With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace--and the politicians... For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome's--and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous.