The ageing Emperor Tiberius, in his fortress-villa on the island of Capri, still rules his empire. He knows he must choose his successor. Should it be the woefully inexperienced young Caligula, or someone with power and might? In Rome, the powerful Sejanus, Prefect of the Praetorial Guard, is plotting and waiting – impatiently.
Tiberius sends the Tribune, Lucius Gracchus Valerius, to the East to rally the legions on his behalf and to seek support among the people, especially in the troublesome region of Judea. Pontius Pilate, the Procurator and a friend of Sejanus, must be secured. He, however, has his own troubles. A new teacher has appeared, Jesus, whose message and following is unsettling the Jewish establishment.
Lucius meets the Centurion, Marcus Tullus, an expert on the area and its people and, as a Roman, unique in having the respect and affection of the Jews. Unique, too, in that he is drawn to the teachings of the prophet Jesus, whose life is reaching its climax. Together, the two must thwart the plans of Sejanus' own legate, as well as resolve the conflicting personal loyalties that confront them.
Set amidst the vast panorama and intrigue of the Roman Empire, this scholarly and compelling first novel, its narrative interwoven with threads of early Christian, Platonic, and Eastern thought, vividly recreates the reality and insecurity of Roman rule at the time of the Crucifixion. The Centurion is an impressive debut.