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Synopsis

Rome, 609 AD. Empire is a fading memory. Repeatedly fought over and plundered, the City is falling into ruins. Filth and rubble block the streets. Killers prowl by night. Far off, in Constantinople, the Emperor has other concerns; The Church is the one institution left intact, and is beginning to flex its own imperial muscle.

Enter Aelric of England: young and beautiful, sexually uninhibited, heroic, if ruthlessly violent - and hungry for the learning of a world that is dying around him. In this first of six novels, he's only here in Rome by accident. But here Aelric is, and nothing on earth will send him back.

The question is how long he will stay on earth. A deadly brawl outside Rome sucks him straight into the high politics of Empire. There is fraud. There is pursuit. There is murder after murder. Soon, Aelric is involved in a race against time to find answers before he ends up as just another corpse in the gutter. Where are the letters everyone thinks he has, why are they worth killing for, and what do they contain? Who is the one-eyed man? What significance to all this has the Column of Phocas, the monument just put up in the Forum to celebrate a tyrant's generosity to Holy Mother Church?

When Aelric does at last get his answers, whatever he does with them will shape the future history of Europe and the world.

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