In the winter of 304 c.e., the Roman Empire is divided by Emperor Diocletian into four separate parts. Individual power struggles and manipulations make the once-stable empire a breeding ground for corruption. In the midst of this, Aelius Spartianus, a high-ranking officer and Diocletian’s official historian, is sent to Trier with a sensitive message for Emperor Constantius. En route, he receives a letter from a former enemy telling him of a strange miracle worker named Agnus, a Christian preacher who works in Trier.
Agnus, known as the “fire waker,” has recently resurrected a man from absolute death. In the hiatus from the ongoing religious persecutions, Agnus’s wondrous act incites fury, awe, and speculation. Determined to uncover the truth behind this seeming miracle, Aelius looks for Agnus and his assistant, the deaconess Casta. Before his investigation begins, however, he discovers that the resurrected man has been murdered.
What ensues is a testament to Ben Pastor’s complex skill at interweaving the complicated plots of the Roman government and the treacherous social undercurrents that rise to the surface. Aelius, in pursuit of the truth behind the fire waker’s miraculous ability, finds himself getting closer to the heart of the Empire’s escalating problems: political deception, religious persecution, and whispers of a coup d’etat. As Aelius moves from the city to the battlegrounds, secrets of life and death---and resurrection---are uncovered and challenged, leaving everyone involved changed forever.
Power-hungry emperors, mysterious miracle workers, lovers, concubines, and religious radicals all play their part in this explosive, haunting historical saga. Readers hooked by The Water Thief will welcome internationally renowned and critically acclaimed author Ben Pastor’s newest epic, where she once again brings her thematic skill to bear.