Vespasian is serving as a military officer on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, suppressing local troubles and defending the Roman way. But political events in Rome - Tiberius's increasingly insane debauchery, the escalating grain crisis - draw him back to the city.
When Caligula becomes Emperor, Vespasian believes that things will improve. Instead, he watches the young emperor deteriorate from Rome's shining star to a blood-crazed, incestuous, all-powerful madman. Lavish building projects, endless games, public displays of his relationship with his sister, Drusilla, and a terrified senate are as nothing to Caligula's most ambitious plan: to bridge the bay of Neapolis and ride over it wearing Alexander's breastplate. And it falls to Vespasian to travel to Alexandria and steal it from Alexander's mausoleum.
Vespasian's mission will lead to violence, mayhem and theft - and in the end, to a betrayal so great it will echo through the ages.