‘The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace.’ Tacitus, The Histories
AD 68. The Emperor Nero’s erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes – and Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome to bring it to a close.
With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival of his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, the governor of Hispania. The Empire prays to the gods for peace . . . but its prayers are in vain.
For while Galba promises stability and prosperity, his rule begins with a massacre and ends a few months later in chaos, carnage and his murder. This is a time that will come to be known as the Year of the Four Emperors – a time of vicious civil war that will tear Rome apart and test Valerius’ skills and loyalties to the limit.
Fortunate to survive Galba’s fall, the one-handed tribune, titled ‘the Empire’s Sword’, is sent on a desperate mission by the new emperor, Otho. He must persuade his old friend Vitellius, charismatic commander of the armies of the north, not to cross the Rubicon. But Vitellius’ legions are already on the march and not even Valerius can halt the coming bloodbath that will see Roman fighting Roman and leave a field of forty thousand dead . . .