First US edition
William Morrow (US)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Grass Crown|
|Followed by||Caesar's Women|
The first half of the novel focuses on the actions of Lucius Cornelius Sulla: his return to Italy in 83 BCE from war against Mithridates VI of Pontus, his successful civil war against the forces of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo and Gaius Marius the Younger, and his accession to the Dictatorship and subsequent constitutional reforms. The narrative emphasizes Sulla's failing health and deteriorated physical appearance, as well as his ruthlessness toward his enemies in taking control of the state, including the infamous proscriptions of Rome's wealthy commercial class, many of whom had supported his rival Gaius Marius.
The novel also depicts the entrances onto the political and military scene of Pompey the Great, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar. They interact with Sulla and each other against the backdrop of Sulla's dictatorship, the Senate's war against Quintus Sertorius in Spain, and the slave revolt of Spartacus. The book concludes just after the first joint consulship of Pompey and Crassus in 70 BCE.
The book's title is a reference to an often repeated theme in the series, and expresses the Roman belief that Fortuna, the Goddess of Luck, would take a hand in the lives of those who please her, helping them along when they needed it most.