A mass (mob?) blood-and-dust epic spectacular of the Byzantine empire before its sack by the Latins during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, this centers on the empyrean feats of Andronikus -- archetypical ""pathfinder"" or ""profane superman"" of the Comnenus dynasty, whose Silver Age climaxes with his crucifixion by the rabble. For Arnold, whose earlier historicals featured the Mayerling story and the world of Camelot, the gossip quotient is minimized or at least sublimated to the detailed theological and political intrigues of priests and princes (a pantheon of Turks, Russians, Greeks, Franks, Germans, Irish, et al. the civilized world); to battles, treaties, taxes, expeditions, riots, rumors -- though there's certainly enough salacity and philandering, not to mention a love affair between cousins Andonikus and Theodora with a latter-medieval romantic touch (they're excommunicated for being ""notorious and pertinacious sinners, incestuous and rebellious against the law of God""). The ambiance is crenelated with holy relics, state jewels, wanton perverse acts leading to pandemonium and carnage, all incipited and explicited -- in a pious drone like an Italian B dubbed-in voice-over -- by one senatorial scholar Nicetas Acominatus, and it seems to go on in secula seculorum.