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Centurion Aurelius Castus - once a soldier in the elite legions of the Danube - believes his glory days are over, as he finds himself in the cold, grey wastes of northern Britain, battling to protect an empire in decline.
When the king of the Picts dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to guard the Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians beyond Hadrian's Wall. Here he will face the supreme challenge of command, in a mission riven with bloodshed and treachery that tests his honour to the limit.
As he struggles to avert disaster and keep his promise to a woman he has sworn to protect, Castus discovers that nothing about this doomed enterprise was ever what it seemed.
Rome is in peril. The old order is changing - and Aurelius Castus has been summoned back from Britain to find himself caught up in a treasonous conspiracy threatening to bring down the Emperor Constantine.
Rewarded for saving the emperor's life in battle, Castus is promoted to the Corps of Protectores, the elite imperial bodyguard. The swords around the throne.
But he soon discovers the court to be as dangerous as the battlefield; behind the gilded facade of empire, there are spiralling plots, betrayals and seductions. A nest of traitors. And one relentless enemy.
Battle For Rome
Aurelius Castus, promoted from the ranks for valour and loyalty, is now a tribune in Constantine's army. But great honour brings new challenges: Castus is tormented by suspicions that his aristocratic wife, the mother of his child, has been unfaithful. And as Constantine becomes increasingly devoted to Christianity, Castus is forced to ask himself whether he is backing the wrong man.
All know that the coming war will decide the fate of empire. But Castus's own battle will carry him much further - into the shadowy realms of treachery at the heart of Rome itself.
Ian Ross has been researching and writing about the later Roman world and its army for over a decade. He spent a year in Italy, teaching English, but now lives in Bath. Visit his website: www.ianjamesross.com or find him on twitter: @IanRossAuthor