Young James, an earl's son, is a bit bothersome and always asking the oddest questions.
Desperate, his mother sends him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey, hoping the strict regimen will do him a world of good.
But Cranford Abbey has been falling into disrepair. The newly appointed Abbot Aelian takes it upon himself to save the abbey with the use of his secret weapon: a recipe for golden apple cider passed down in his family for many generations.
Abbot Aelian has everything he needs-almost. One obstacle stands in his way: unicorns that happen to feast specifically on the golden apples.
Abbot Aelian and his monks try to form a battalion to fight off the beasts; next they import heroes to fight for them.
But the heroes run off, monks are injured, and a herd of ravenous unicorns continue munching.
James, however, knows a small hero who possesses the skill to tame the beasts.
It is up to James to convince the reluctant abbot, and not only save Cranford Abbey but hopefully find a way to return home.