615 AD: a vengeful Persian tyrant prepares the final blow that will annihilate an Empire.
Aelric - the young adventurer from England - is now almost as powerful as the Emperor. Seemingly without opposition, he dominates the vast and morally bankrupt city of Constantinople. One step at a time, in his fortified palace, he is pushing forward reforms that are the Roman Empire's only hope of survival, and perhaps also of its restoration to wealth and greatness.
But his domestic enemies are only waiting for their moment to strike back. And the world's most terrifying military machine is assembling in secret beyond the mountains of the eastern frontier.
The plot to destroy the English upstart begins with an ancient and apparently accursed Babylonian treasure - and continues with kidnap, revolution and a brutal invasion. Can Aelric overcome his greatest challenge yet, and can he call on new and unexpected forces to save the Empire? And how will he find a personal happiness that has so far eluded him?