In this book, trouble is brewing in Syria, on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. The troops are in a deplorable state, while their senior officers are running numerous rackets - behaviour that threatens to undermine the army's control of the region. It's decided to dispatch two centurions, Macro and Cato, to Syria to restore the competence of the cohort. On arrival Macro and Cato are caught up in suspicious incidents which leave them unsure if they will survive to carry out their mission. And they learn that there is a new problem to deal with. Bannus, a local tribesman, is brewing up trouble amongst the followers of Jehoshua, who was crucified in Jerusalem seventeen years earlier. Bannus is pushing the faction towards violent opposition to Rome. Across the border, Rome's long-standing enemy Parthia is poised to invade. Macro and Cato must stamp out corruption in the cohort and restore it to fighting fitness to quash Bannus - before the eastern provinces are lost to the Empire.