Early fifth century AD. The Western Roman Empire has been overrun by German tribes. Too weak to expel them, the Imperial government has been forced to grant federate status to the invaders. Aetius, the last of the great Roman generals, becomes the virtual ruler of the West over the heads of a weak and vicious emperor and his ambitious mother. In a series of brilliant campaigns, he takes on the German tribes and forces them to settle peacefully. Meanwhile, his old friend Attila, leader of the Huns, launches a devastating attack on the Eastern Empire, before turning on the West. He is confronted by Aetius, now his bitter enemy. In the epic battle that ensues, the stakes for Attila and Aetius could not be higher as the fates of empires of both Romans and Huns hang in the balance.
This arresting novel deals with the rivalry between two great men whose friendship turns to enmity. Attila becomes corrupted by power, while Aetius is ennobled by it. Ross Laidlaw's masterful portrayal of these two figures is based on his extensive knowledge of the period and is written in a narrative style that vividly evokes the brutality, decadence and desperation of this fascinating time in European history.