Her heart was throbbing behind her ribs. A real, live tiger? But that was impossible! Of all the beasts brought from far-off countries the tiger was the most formidable. There could be no one bold enough to introduce one into Caesar's palace!
Two tiger cubs are snatched from their native jungle and shipped to Rome. On arrival at this strange land crowded with noisy "two-legs" they are cruelly separated. One cub becomes the princess's pampered and adored house pet. The other, fiercer, cub is trained to become the star performer in Caesar's bloodthirsty circus.
Princess Aurelia detests her father's brutal "sport", but must keep her feelings secret - no one dares criticise the almighty Caesar! The only person she can confide in is the slave Julius, her tiger's keeper. But such a friendship is equally forbidden: should the Emperor find out, his anger would be terrible and the punishment severe. But friendship and love cannot be dictated, and neither tiger nor man is destined for a life in chains.
In a world dominated by Caesar's will, all must fight for freedom . . .
This is Lynne Reid Banks at her very best. She has written a hugely powerful and moving story, which boys and girls from 10 years onwards will love. The animals' thoughts seem eerily perceptive. Utterly captivating.