The dependable Bradshaw offers yet another historical fiction set in the ancient world (Horses of Heaven, 1991, etc.). Here, the stage is Britain in the second century a.d., a time when the restless land is mostly under the harsh rule of the Romans. Caught in the middle, between the haughty Romans and the conquered Britons, is Ariantes, a prince of the Sarmatian people. The Sarmatians, from Eastern Europe, had agreed to supply several thousand warriors for Rome’s armies as part of a peace treaty. Placed in command of a Sarmatian regiment sent to patrol Britain, Ariantes, in order to preserve his people, is compelled to keep the peace between his soldiers and the overbearing Romans; to moderate Roman rule in the province; and to retain his integrity. This becomes increasingly difficult after he falls in love with the Lady Pervica and discovers various lethal plots afoot. Christians, Druids, some grisly warriors, and a number of effete, untrustworthy Romans all figure in the swirling conspiracies. Focusing more on talk than action, Bradshaw neatly ties up most of the threats, giving Ariantes most—but not all—of what he—d hoped. A nicely detailed, if slow-paced, historical romance.