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A Novel of Two Powerful Civilisations
on 3 October 2006
Few authors can be better equipped to write about the history of ancient Greece and Rome than Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Professor of archaeology at the university of Milan, he has carried out many excavations and expeditions in the Mediterranean region. He has produced many factual books on historical matters, mainly military and has still found the time to write several novels and this is one of the best yet.
This book has a storyline that must surely be unique. It begins with the personal bodyguard of the Roman Emperor Publius Licinius Valerianus and their commander caught in a trap after Valerianus had agreed to meet his adversary, to negotiate peace and save the city of Edessa. However Marcus Metellus Aquila, legate of the Second Augusta Legion and his men manage to break free and find shelter at an oasis, where they meet a mysterious exiled prince. With nothing left for them, the Romans agree to become the prince's private militia and volunteer to guide him back to his homeland, China.
While they are there they see things that no other European has ever seen. They see cruelty, violence, but on the other side they see men of great intelligence and tolerance and beautiful women, unlike any of the women in Rome. But everything is at stake, even the very survival of the world's two greatest empires . . .