His personal journey changed the European understanding of the world forever. 13th century Venetian trader Marco Polo (Ian Somerhalder) is enlisted to accompany a pair of priests to the court of Kublai Khan (Brian Dennehy), Mongol conqueror of the East. The mission is to convert the most populous and wealthiest nation in the world to Christianity. Yet the priests aren't even convinced that the sophisticated nation of China even exists. After all. God put Europe as the center of the world. How could there be anything but barbarism beyond? Not willing to risk their lives in the increasingly precipitous and treacherous Pamir Mountains, the priests retreat, leaving Marco, his father Niccolo (Mark Jax), and his Uncle Maffeo (Alan Shearman) to push ahead through blinding blizzards and across the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts. Set upon by murderous bandits, ravaged by hunger, thirst, and the blazing sun, they push forth toward the unknown of Khan's fabled heartland. What greets them is an astonishing world like no other place on earth - From religion to war to culture, everything Marco believes about his world is challenged and proven wrong. So too are his rigid notions of Kublai Khan who accepts Marco as an envoy of his court, where he advances as a Mongol grandee, shares in the forbidden love of a Persian princess, and in a historically important and unprecedented move, chronicles his life over the next twenty years, marooned on the far side of the world.