In the dirt of the Flavian Amphitheatre, known to history as the Coliseum, lies the bloodied body of Spartan priestess Lysandra—cut down by Rome's adored Gladiatrix Prima, the beautiful and deadly Illeana, the Midnight Falcon. At the edge of the underworld, the goddess Athene offers Lysandra's spirit a stark choice: reside eternally amid the fields of Elysium, or return to a life that is full of pain and sorrow—but will secure Lysandra a glorious place in legend for generations to come. Meanwhile, the legions prepare to embark for the Dacian frontier as the Emperor Domitian seeks revenge for Rome's worst defeat for almost a century. With them is the former tribune Gaius Minervius Valerian, anxious to wipe away the disgrace of being the sole survivor of his own command, annihilated by a swarm of savage warrior horsewomen. And now it seems that Lysandra's destiny also lies to the east, as well as the prospect of a final and bloody reckoning with an old and hated adversary.