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This romantic tale of tenth-century Rome concerns itself with the fortunes and adventures of Tristan of Avalon while in the Eternal City on a pilgrimage to do penance for his love of Hellayne, the wife of his liege lord, Count Roger de Laval. 
Tristan's meeting with the Queen Courtesan of the Aventine; her infatuation for the pilgrim; Tristan's rounds of obediences, cut short by his appointment as Captain of Sant' Angelo by Alberic, Senator of Rome; the intrigues of Basil, the Grand Chamberlain, who aspires to the dominion of Rome and the love of Theodora; the trials of Hellayne, who alternately falls into the power of Basil and Theodora; the scene between the Grand Chamberlain and Bessarion in the ruins of the Coliseum; the great feud between Roxana and Theodora and the final overthrow of the latter's regime constitute some of the dramatic episodes of the romance.

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