Gaius Pedius has always hated his job...
On the chilly, northern frontier of Britain, Pedius works for the Roman emperor as a mapmaker and surveyor (second class). Usually his days are spent either settling boundary disputes between quarrelsome neighbors or finding the least objectionable build-site for a legion's new latrine. But recently, the gods have decided to torment him. As punishment for some unknown crime, they inflict visions on him– scenes from the lives of anonymous people now dead. In a brutal world where humans are normally disposable and violence is commonplace, these unwanted, intimate glimpses personalizing the lives of strangers fill Pedius with a troublesome compassion.
When the emperor's youngest son orders him to investigate a suspicious death along Hadrian's Wall, Pedius is drawn into a dangerous imperial conspiracy. Traveling along the monument, from one side of the province to the other, Pedius uncovers evidence of a second death, and a third, and a fourth... all seemingly connected to a peculiar new religious cult in the area.
Assisted by a beautiful commander's daughter dabbling in espionage and a handsome cavalry soldier turned deserter, Pedius must infiltrate a mysterious religious cult in the area. If he is unmasked as an imperial spy, or if he displeases the emperor, or if anyone discovers his blasphemous secret, not even a surveyor (first class) will be able to locate Pedius' corpse...