Set in the mystical lands of Persia, a rogue prince and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.
Adopted from the streets of Nasaf by King Sharaman of Persia, young Dastan grows up amongst royalty and quickly earns his place as a mighty warrior and prince. As his brothers Garsiv and Tus plan battle strategies, a spy sends word that the Holy City of Alamut has been supplying weapons to enemies of Persia. Taking matters into his own hands, Tus orders an attack on the sacred city and upon its fall Dastan encounters the beautiful Princess Tamina. When King Sharaman dies under mysterious circumstances shortly after, and Dastan is accused of his murder, he flees with the princess on a harrowing mission to clear his name. Learning from Tamina the true motives behind Alamut's invasion, Dastan must embark on a perilous quest to stop an evil mastermind's plot for ultimate power with a mystical weapon that can control the very fabric of time.
In Persia, in the Royal City of Nasaf, the fair King Sharaman rules the empire with his brother Nizan. Sharaman has two sons, but adopts the orphan Dastan that becomes part of his family. Years later, the Holy City of Alamut ruled by Princess Tamina is under siege of the troops led by Tus, Garsiv and Dastan, after their uncle Nizan had intercepted a spy carrying weapons for Alamut. Dastan invades the city with his men to avoid a massacre and the Persian army conquers the city. Dastan gets a dagger from an enemy and King Sharaman comes to Almut very upset with the invasion of the holy city. Then he arranges the marriage of Dastan with Princess Tamina. When Dastan gives a holy cloak delivered by Tus to his father, the mantle is poisoned and kills Sharaman. Dastan is accused of betrayal but he escapes with Princess Ttamina. Sooner he finds that the dagger is a powerful device to travel and change time and that Tus is not the traitor and he engages with Tamina in a quest for justice.
At the height of the Persian Empire's power and influence, the King's adopted son Prince Dastan leads an attack on the sacred city of Alamut under orders from the Crown Prince, Tus, after it is revealed the city may be the source of arms for their enemies. The battle is quickly won and Dastan takes possession of an interesting dagger, one that Alamut's Princess Tamina is keen to recover. Dastan is soon on the run however when his gift to the King poisons him, putting Nizam on the throne. Tamina tells him the importance of the dagger - it can transport the bearer back in time. With his new found weapon, Dastan sets out to change past events and learn the identity of the man who betrayed them and killed his adopted father.
A young fugitive prince and princess must stop a villain who unknowingly threatens to destroy the world with a special dagger that enables the magic sand inside to reverse time.
- The plot follows Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street urchin in Persia, historically in the Persian Empire in the sixth century. After showing courage in the market place, he is adopted by the king. Fifteen years later, Dastan, and his royal blooded foster brothers Garsiv and Tus lead the Persian army in an attack on the sacred city of Alamut, under the assumption that the city's people are selling weapons to their enemies, as shown by Nizam (Ben Kingsley), the King's brother and adviser. As Garsiv leads the initial assault, Dastan decides to lead a surprise attack with his friend Bis (Reece Ritchie) against the orders of his brother. He manages to open the eastern gate of Alamut and prevents further casualties. During the fight in the city, Dastan defeats one of Princess Tamina's (Gemma Arterton) guards who was in the possession of the mythical Dagger of Time. The dagger gives its owner the ability to go back in time for a short period so that the user can try to correct any mistake or redo any moment. Alamut falls to the Persians, Tamina is captured and is offered as a wife for Tus, which would make the city of Alamut a part of the Persian Empire.
The Persians celebrate their victory, but during the celebration Prince Dastan is fooled into presenting a poisoned gown seemingly given to him by Tus to King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), which fatally burns the king. Prince Dastan is held as the perpetrator of his father's murder. He escapes the castle with Princess Tamina while Bis, his best friend, is killed trying to save them. Together, they embark on a journey the Prince wants to prove his innocence, while Tamina wants to safeguard the Dagger of Time. On the first night, Tamina attempts to kill the prince and recover the dagger, but Dastan accidentally activates the dagger and learns about its ability to rewind time for one minute and in doing so, prevents Tamina from attacking. Dastan believes that Tus knew about the dagger and framed Dastan for their father's murder in an attempt to seize the throne and the dagger, thus becoming the most powerful ruler of Persia.
During their journey, the duo meets a group of merchant-bandits, in the valley of slaves, including entrepreneur and ostrich racing-organizer Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) with his friend Seso (Steve Toussaint) who hails from the Ngbaka, masters of the throwing knives. Dastan offers Tamina up as a slave in return for their hospitality. However, the bandits try to take the Dagger of Time and take Dastan to the newly crowned Tus because of the reward for his capture; they fail in the process, while the two escape.
Dastan and Tamina return to Persia for King Sharaman's funeral. Dastan tries to convince his uncle Nizam that he was not the cause of his father's death, only to discover the dagger was taken by Tamina. Instead, he notices the burns on Nizam's hands, which indicate he was the one who set up the murder of the King. Furthermore, Nizam has set up an ambush for Dastan along the Persian streets, and after a conflict with his brother Garsiv, Dastan escapes.
Meanwhile, back in Persia, Nizam, aware that Dastan knows he was responsible, tries to convince the newly-crowned King Tus and Garsiv that Dastan is trying to overthrow them and must be killed without a trial to avoid a rebellion. When this fails, Nizam hires the Hassansins, a group of highly-skilled warriors who once served as hired killers for Persian royalty. Nizam had kept the sect hidden for his own ends after Sharaman had them disbanded.
Dastan catches up with Tamina and explains that the villainous brother of the King, Nizam was behind it all. The attack of Alamut was based on false allegations provided by Nizam and promoted with a motive to attain the Dagger of Time and use it with the massive Sandglass, which is hidden under the city of Alamut. This way, Nizam would go back in time before he had saved Sharaman from being attacked by a lion and undo the act, hence ensure that he becomes the King of Persia. However, Tamina reveals that the Sandglass is the vessel holding the Sands of Time, which the Gods conjured to punish humanity for its sins. A pure hearted girl, offering her life, convinced them to seal the sands; should the Dagger of Time be used to pierce the Sandglass, the sands would be released and destroy the entire world. The holder of the dagger may also turn back time as far as they please. The pair then put aside their differences and agree to work together to protect the dagger.
Dastan and Tamina are again captured by Sheik Amar, Seso, and their group because of the chaos they caused back at the valley. Sheik intends to claim the reward for turning them in to renew his business. But that night, when everyone is asleep, the Hassansin leader (Gísli Örn Garðarsson) attacks the group in an oasis by controlling a number of vipers. Many of the group die, but Dastan uses the dagger to rewind time, and, foreseeing the attack, manages to kill all the snakes single-handedly, saving Seso in the process. The Hassansin leader then leaves in a sand dervish.
The next day, the pair, now accompanied by Sheik and Seso, travel to the secret sanctuary in the mountains near India, where it's possible to seal the dagger by returning it to the stone where it came from. In order to do so, Tamina would have to sacrifice herself, but it fails as they run into Garsiv's men. Dastan, however, manages to persuade his brother that he is innocent, only for Garsiv to be killed by a flurry of spike-knives thrown by a Hassansin. The Hassanin attack, killing many of the group, while their leader manages to snatch the Dagger of Time from Tamina (who was knocked unconscious in the battle) by using a trained snake. However, Dastan is saved from the last Hassansin by Garsiv, who then succumbs to his injuries.
Tamina and Dastan, as well as Sheik Amar and Seso, return to Alamut to reveal the truth about Nizam and the dagger to Tus. First, they must get the dagger, which is kept in the sacred temple, guarded by the Hassansin who killed Garsiv. Seso, the master of throwing knives, fights the spike-wielding Hassansin to obtain the dagger. He manages to kill the Hassansin after a well aimed throw, yet is fatally wounded in the process. Seso manages to throw the Dagger out of the window to Sheik and Dastan before dying. Sheik Amar then distracts the guards by serving as a decoy while Dastan shows the truth about the Dagger to his brother Tus by killing himself, only to have Tus rewind time with the dagger. Afterward, Tus is killed by Nizam, and Dastan is incapacitated by another Hassasin. The Dagger is once again in Nizam's hands, but Dastan manages to defeat the Hassasin with Tamina's help. She realises that the Hassansin had been a spy inside the city of Alamut and must have been the one who told Nizam about the Dagger.
Nizam goes to the Sandglass caves beneath Alamut, as Dastan and Tamina race to stop him. Tamina opens a secret gate leading to the chamber, allowing them to take a short cut to the Sandglass. En route, they encounter the leader of the Hassansins; however, after a close fight, Dastan gets the upper hand and stabs the Hassansin before throwing him into the chasm. Dastan and Tamina then kiss. They then manage to reach Nizam as he pierces the Sandglass with the Dagger. During the final confrontation, Nizam knocks Tamina over the edge of the chasm and Dastan desperately catches her hand. Knowing he cannot stop Nizam and save her, Tamina professes her love for Dastan and lets go, sacrificing herself to stop Nizam. Dastan fights Nizam as they both hold their hands on the Dagger. Dastan then uses the Dagger's button to open the Sands of Time container and use its power against Nizam. The Sandglass slowly cracks and the sandstorm is shown destroying Alamut. Dastan is then able to use the Dagger and turn back the time as the Sandglass breaks, ending up at the point when he first held the Dagger during the siege of Alamut.
Dastan uses his knowledge to reveal Nizam's evil plan to his brothers, gaining their acceptance by revealing what Tus told him about the meeting with their father prior to the attack. Exposed, Nizam attempts to kill Dastan but ends up dying by Tus' blade. After apologizing for the ransacking of her city, Tus suggests that perhaps Tamina should become Dastan's wife as a sign of good will. The Prince returns the Dagger of Time to her as a gift, as she looks at him surprised. The two of them are next shown talking to each other and Tamina expressing her surprise about Dastan's sudden change in behavior and hinting that he may have discovered something to which he replies that they are in control of their own destiny.