The bloodthirsty Emperor Phocas is preparing for the greatest battle of his life. Enemy armies are racing closer to attack his fortress, the golden city of Constantinople, and traitors within plot his downfall. Clinging to power by masterminding a campaign of terror, he is running out of funds, allies and time . . . but he has one card left to play.
Aelric, a naïve and ambitious young clerk from Britain, is sent to Constantinople ostensibly on a mission to copy old texts for the Church of Rome. On his arrival he discovers the terrible dangers lurking behind the shining streets and glittering facades. A pawn in a secret conspiracy that will change the course of history, he can only rely on his wits, charm and fighting skills to stay alive.