“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.”
– Emperor Marcus Aurelius
It all started with Marcus Aurelius — a warrior, philosopher and emperor whose Meditations are still pored over by readers who seek out ancient wisdom to help make sense of modern life.
Marcus’ idea, that by looking backwards we can see forwards, made us wonder. What if we could craft, not only a gripping and credible space opera about a Rome that never fell but instead expanded into space, but also a book that would speak about the nature of civilizations, how they’re driven forward on the shoulders of giants, why they collapse, and how, if a hero appears at the right time, she can make the difference between an empire’s survival or destruction.
We chose as our hero a young noblewoman turned gladiator. Accala Viridius breaks free of the constraints of tradition and enters the arena to take revenge upon the men who murdered her mother and brother. Accala is brilliant, trained in philosophy by her mother and martial arts by her father, but she’s also flawed — headstrong and determined to have justice at any price. She doesn’t start out a hero, she must first walk a dark path, willingly enslaving herself to her enemy’s gladiatorial team to earn her shot at revenge, only to find that her choices lead to addiction, madness and destruction. She even loses her head (but thanks to the intervention of mystical alien beings, not her life).
As Cicero says, “where there’s life, there’s hope”, so with her new alien allies assisting her, Accala — as a woman with a destiny and the aid of the gods — gets a second chance to set things right. Can Acccala work out how to be the hero the empire needs before her enemies win the gladiatorial games and seize the imperial throne for themselves?