Rome, AD 51: Vespasian brings Rome's greatest enemy before the Emperor. After 8 years of resistance, the British warrior Caratacus has been caught. But even Vespasian's victory cannot remove the newly-made consul from Roman politics: Agrippina, Emperor Claudius's wife, pardons Caratacus. Claudius is a drunken fool and Narcissus and Pallas, his freedmen, are battling for control of his throne. Separately, they decide to send Vespasian East to Armenia to defend Rome's interests. But there is more at stake than protecting a client kingdom. Rumours abound that Agrippina is involved in a plot to destabilise the East. Vespasian must find a way to serve two masters - Narcissus is determined to ruin Agrippina, Pallas to save her.