The Stone Virgins

Armenia, 305 AD. What brings Aelius Spartianus to the most remote ends of the Roman Empire? Officially his task is to meet Ter Vishap, a powerful warlord who could play a decisive role on the world stage after Emperor Diocletian’s abdication. But the soldier-historian’s real mission is entirely different. As he treks the lonely route toward the far Caucasus mountains, solving the “incidental” murder of a Persian merchant named Sanazar becomes Aelius’ investigative obsession. Traveling into nowhere up the fabulous path of Xenophon’s Ten Thousand, the protagonist of The Water Thief and The Fire Waker reaches after an exhausting voyage the land of the Amazons: a place rich in silver and gold, but also burning pitch, naphtha lakes, and merciless thieving tribes. Will officers from the XV Legion, once serving with Ter Vishap – whom they knew as Paullus Curtius – give Aelius the right directions? Will Hesperus Battades, mining engineer for the Roman army, share all he knows? And how does beautiful Tarantula, the bewitching mountain dweller, know the young officer’s real task? Every step taken toward the solitary pass known as Stone Virgins leads Aelius deeper and deeper into an infernal maze, toward the resolution of a murder as significative as it is obscure, in the extreme wilderness where he is awaited by Ter Vishap, a blood-thirsty Minotaur who plans to destroy an entire world...
  Aelius Spartianus Series

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