The setting of this novel is Ancient Rome, where Caesar is all-powerful, Christians are heretics who must die, and animals are mere playthings, to be baited, challenged and destroyed...
Two tiger cubs are transported on a frightening voyage from their home to Rome. One (Boots) is tamed, his claws removed, to be an amusing and prestigious pet for Aurelia, Caesar's daughter. The other is mistreated, made even more brutal, and trained to fight and kill in Caesar's arena.
Aurelia becomes more and more fond of Boots, and even more fond of his keeper, Julius. When a childish prank goes awry, Boots escapes. Caesar is furious and punishes Aurelia. He sentences Julius to death in the arena... and Boots, should he return, is to face the same fate.
The climax to this novel sees Aurelia forced to watch her beloved fight for his life, at the mercy of the very beasts he trains. We see two brothers reunited, one a cosseted pet, the other a vicious predator.