Jennings (Spangle, etc.) takes over 900 pages to tell the epic story of Thorn, a fifth-century Goth wanderer who becomes friend and counselor to Theodoric the Great, the Ostrogoth king who temporarily revitalized the decaying Roman Empire. Thorn, a most unusual hero indeed, is a hermaphrodite. While Thorn's dual sexuality may prove off-putting to some readers, particularly because of his many and often graphic sexual encounters (even though most are recounted with good humor and sly wit), his nature does provide for some interesting perspective on events. He learns of his unique nature when he is raped in a monastery and then becomes himself a seducer in a convent, all at the age of 12 and all without knowing exactly what he's doing. Sent packing, Thorn spends valuable time as companion to a crafty and knowledgeable old Roman centurion-turned-woodsman and a winter passing himself off as a rich nobleman in a city on the edge of the Empire (learning to exploit both his male and female aspects all the while). When he finally joins his countrymen, the Ostrogoths, he discovers that their young king, Theodoric, was the stranger who saved his life in the woods after he was bitten by a poisonous snake. Thorn immediately enlists in Theodoric's cause and serves him throughout his historic conquest. His ability to act as either man or woman serves him, his king, and their cause very well indeed. In the moat improbable adventure of all, he encounters an evil ""twin"" who shares his sexual duality. An impressive, often violent saga that allows readers to experience a richly re-created time and place through the eyes of a hero unlike virtually any other in fact or fiction. Along the way, it also offers some thought-provoking critiques on Christianity and its origins.