Marco Polo, a young Venetian trader, is abandoned by his father for the merchant Silk Road in the hands of the Mongolian emperor, Kublai Khan, who is at war with China. Kublai recognizes Marco's observation skills, and teaches him the Mongolian culture.
At court, Marco learns more about the culture that surrounds him. In Xiangyang, Chancellor Jia Sidao aspires to control the new emperor of the Song Dinasty, but his ambitions are put to risk by the Empress Dowager's presence. Meanwhile, Kublai faces his brother's treason.
Kublai mourns the loss of his brother Ariq. He doesn't show up at the feast held in his honor by Kaidu. Mei Lin finds a way to get closer to Kublai. Marco meets Khutulun, Kaidu's daughter, and later fails to find the man who is receiving jewels from Kokachin.