The knight Antonius Block is back from the Crusade in the Holy Land and is waiting for a figure with a cerulean face and a long black coat. It is the Death, ready to take the valiant man with him, but he proposes a challenge to chess, managing to postpone the fateful moment and to obtain further time to live. The game takes place during the various moments of the journey that the rider has undertaken together with his squire Jöns, to return to his castle after ten years of war. A journey through a Sweden ravaged by the plague of the fourteenth century, during which Block, whose faith is now in crisis, meets three acrobats, the capocomico Skat, a girl accused of witchcraft and young spouses Mia and Jof, with his little son. The events of these and other souls are intertwined along the way, before the knight and his companions reach the castle and their ineluctable destiny.