A long, long march with the Thirteenth Legion of Rome in the reign of Caligula--who has arranged a Mission Impossible in order to dispose of the Legion's commander, Manlius Varro. The formidable Thirteenth has been ordered to push beyond the boundaries of the Empire, through hostile territory, to find the remnants of the Legion of Crassus (routed by the Parthians in 53 B.C.). And, among the Legion's odd assortment of recruits, there is above all Lilia, a Roman merchant's daughter whose husband, fortune-hunting poet Tibillus, has been tricked into signing up. Brave little Lilia insists on following her man, she becomes the darling of the regiment (even suited with her very own armor and weapons), and eventually she'll save the life of a giant, Roman-hating Hun while being adored by various soldiers and the army's ferocious dogs. Meanwhile, back in the war tent, noble Manlius and his aide Quintus soberly plot strategy, diplomatic and military, to survive the obstacles which Caligula has placed in their way. The Legion is directed on a fool's errand, an unnecessary detour to Jerusalem (St. Paul puts in a cameo appearance); and there are crises in moving through divided Armenia and Parthia (now part of Iran). But at last they move on. . . to glory and death on the great plains of China. Munn has done a boggling amount of research about Roman military routes and practices--every buckle and cuirass, transport, weaponry and formation--and his enthusiasm is contagious. True, the characters are fresh-minted from C. B. de Mille's silver screen, but with enough military equipment and ballistics to invade Gaul thrice over, antiquarians and military action buffs should cheerfully ease on down the Appian Way.