Tiberius is emperor of the Roman Empire; Sejanus his first in command, ambitious to acquire dictatorial power for himself; Pilate, Sejanus' appointee in Judea and Herod the local ruler. And the succession is variously claimed by Gemellus and Caligula -- and, by others, for Quintus Flavius who is the hero of this novel, and who is slow to accept any possibility of acceding to the imperial throne. His desire is the post Pilate is appointed to; at the story's opening he is returning from virtual exile in Marseilles. In this her first novel on Doubleday's list (earlier books were published by Bobbs-Merrill), Miss Powers has written a fast paced, colorful historical and period story, which brings out the intricate play of power politics that laced the whole of the scene of government and administration; she has created credible characters; but she has -- in attempting to convey a sense of contemporary feeling, betrayed any semblance of transporting the reader into other places, other times. Possibly the current popularity of the picture Ben-Hur will provide a demand for other books dealing with those times. The introduction of the contact of Quintus Flavius with Miriam (Mary) and her son, the boy Jesus- the renewed contact at the time Jesus is brought before Pilate, will provide another angle of appeal. For this reader it served no real purpose in forwarding the story or strengthening the background. An adequate but not a particularly significant book.