The reign of Nero in Rome is shown here in its violent excesses, cruelty and violence through the story of Abou Ben Merouane. Abou was prone to trouble-making, but he knew how to handle the wild beasts his father collected in Africa for the Roman arena- and how to train and handle his grandfather's race track stallions, so it was natural that he be sent on a ship which was carrying both caged beasts and horses to Italy. But once more be courted trouble, this time with an unsought passenger, son of a nobleman close to the throne. That the youth was killed by a lion-and the ona escaped to ravage the ship was not Abou's fault, but he was charged with murder by the only other survivor of the debacle. His skills ultimately saved his life- and that of the slave girl he had purchased from a cruel master. Fast paced, not always convincing adventure, but the settling in authentically researched, and while the characters are two dimensional, the plot moves right along. Recommended for details of place and time.