Historical fantasy from the coauthors of Imperial Lady (1989) in which the jumping-off point is the defeat of a Roman army under Crassus at Carrhae in 43 B.C., and the consequent humiliating loss of their Imperial stand, or Eagle. The defeated Romans, led by the young tribune Quintus, the old centurion Rus, and the vacillating aristocrat Lucilius, are marched away into the east. But Quintus carries with him an ancient statuette of the god Krishna; the spirit within the statuette gives Quintus a vision in which the avatars Draupadi and Ganesha ask for his help. In return, the avatars will help the Romans to regain their lost Eagle. Quintus accepts and, after saving the entire company from the treacherous attack, forms an alliance with his nominal captor, Ssu-ma Chao. Through a great journey and many hardships they learn that Draupadi and Ganesha are beset by evil-sorcerer Black Naacals, whose triumph would mean the end of the world. But to confront the Black Naacals, the Romans must brave the demon-infested desert and seek the valley of Paradise. Too much padding, especially toward the end, but plenty of authentic historical detail, good characters, and restrained fantasy elements. Altogether, a superior piece of work.