ROME 46 BC
Dreaming of service to the great Gaius Julius Caesar, the young Tuscan knight, Quintus Dellius, secures the patronage of the youngest of his generals, the dissolute Cornelius Dolabella. Dellius distinguishes himself in Caesar’s Spanish war against Pompey, becomes a tribune of cavalry in Caesar’s army and looks forward to an assured and glittering career.
But when his hero is assassinated the Roman republic is plunged into chaos as both his heirs and enemies jostle for power. In the civil wars that follow, Dellius is soon caught up in a maelstrom of shifting allegiances and the young soldier will need to discover reserves of both tenacity and ruthlessness if he is to survive.
As he journeys from the orgiastic salons of Rome’s Palatine Hill to the Palaces of Alexandria, the rocky fortresses of Judea and the bloody field of Philippi, he manages to incur the enmity both of Egypt’s queen and Rome’s future emperor, but also to snare the affections of a beautiful and cunning young senator’s wife, Livia Drusilla.