Four years have passed since Lysandra's epic but inconclusive battle with her hated rival Sorena in the arena of Halicarnassus and after which both combatants were granted their freedom by the ambitious consul, Trajanus. Now Sorena has found refuge among the Dacian hordes of Decebalus where she leads a vicious troop of horsewomen. Into her hands falls the young tribune Gaius Minervius Valerian and she ponders whether to deal him a slow and painful death or release him to journey back to Rome in shame and ignominy as the sole survivor of the empire's most humiliating defeat for half a millennium. Meanwhile, back in Halicarnassus, Lysandra has become accustomed to easy living and suffered a creeping and insidious addiction to alcohol that, together with her unabated hubris, is sapping both her self esteem and the friendship of those she loves most. But now the Emperor Domitian has called for a command performance at Rome's newly built Flavian Amphitheatre known to history as the Coliseum. Lysandra is invited to fight Rome's adored Gladiatrix Prima, the beautiful and deadly Illeana known as Aesalon Nocturna, the Midnight Falcon. Her record is devastating: thirty bouts; thirty wins- no draws or losses. Lysandra has to face up to all that she is and all that she must become as all roads lead to Rome.