Arimnestos is a farm boy when war breaks out between the citizens of his native Plataea and and their overbearing neighbours, Thebes. Standing in the battle line - the wall of bronze - for the first time, alongside his father and brother, he shares in a famous and unlikely victory. But after being knocked unconscious in the melee, he awakes not a hero, but a slave. Betrayed by his jealous and cowardly cousin, the freedom he fought for has now vanished, and he becomes the property of a rich citizen of Ephesus. So begins an epic journey out of slavery that takes the young Arimnestos through a world poised on the brink of a great confrontation, as the emerging civilisation of the Greeks starts to flex its muscles against the established empire of the Persians. As he tries to make his fortune and avenge himself on the man who disinherited him, Arimnestos discovers that he has a talent that pays well in this new, violent world, for, like his hero, Achilles, he is 'a killer of men'.