The early fifth century. 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 vicious but weak emperor and his ambitious mother. In a series of brilliant campaigns, he takes on the German tribes and forces them to settle down 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 which ensues, Attila is beaten and dies soon after. Time runs out for Aetius too when he is murdered by his jealous emperor. The empires of both the Romans and the Huns rapidly disintegrate into chaos. This arresting historical novel deals with the rivalry between two great men whose friendship turns to enmity as one (Attila) becomes corrupted by power, while the other (Aetius) is ennobled by it. Ross Laidlaw's masterful portrayal of these two figures is based on his intimate knowledge of the times and is written in a narrative style that vividly evokes the brutality, decadence and desperation of this fascinating period of history.