Rameshs Grace: A Simple Story of Waking Up

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At this time drama and stage opera were very popular, yet there were very few good companies performing in Gujarat. Bapuji wrote to a friend who was married and settled in Bombay. He expressed his desire in a letter: I am troubling you because I want to get a job in Bombay. Write to me if you think it likely that I can find some occupation there.

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His friend replied promptly, Dear Hariprasad, come to Bombay at your convenience. Please stay with us. In a big city like Bombay it will take only a few days, or a week or two at most, to find some work for you. When he arrived in Bombay he stayed at the home of his friends, and the loving couple treated him like a member of their own family. Though he avoided all unnecessary expenditures, the little amount of money that Bapuji had brought with him quickly dwindled because of the daily expense of city travel.

The day came when he had no money. I am your brother! Feeling it unfair to be an added burden on a friend who was already helping so much, Bapuji would reply, Yes, I have money. The next day, Bapuji would realize what they had done and would feel even further indebted to these very kind friends. It was only natural for a youth turning nineteen to fancy the idea of celebrating his birthday.

After all, this was Bombay, the city of enchantment! Even the utmost modesty and frugality should permit the desire to have a cup of tea in a restaurant. Bapuji felt that even this joy would elude him, since he knew that his pocket had been emptied on the previous day. On his birthday Bapuji and his friend had their usual light meal in the morning and then parted for their respective duties.

On the way, Bapuji realized that his pocket was not empty. His friend had generously placed two ten-rupee notes there. This method of wishing him a happy birthday appealed much to Bapuji! The deep feelings of affection he already had for his friend increased greatly. Now he was filled with delight, and celebrated the day with snacks and a cup of tea! In the evening he brought home some sweets to his kind friends. Such love and affection, so generously showered on him, filled Bapuji with feelings of joy.

He was haunted by thoughts of his two months of futile wanderings in Bombay. He felt ashamed of being a burden on such kind friends. His mind spun with these thoughts and they caused him tremendous pain. He began to hate his unsuccessful life. He felt that it was meaningless and he saw no purpose in living any longer. The only way to be rid of such a pitiful life, he thought, was to embrace death by committing suicide.

With the growing resolve to act accordingly, he passed a restless night. The next day Bapuji set out as usual and roamed aimlessly in Bombay. He felt that his life was useless. He wanted to commit suicide. What despair for a young man who was destined to become a great saint! In the evening he went to his favorite temple. Tears came to his eyes. Through his tears and the shining light of the arti lamp, the form of the Divine Mother appeared to him.

Then the scene of his vision changed to the Sandhurst Bridge near Chowpaty Beach. An electric train was speeding down the tracks. He saw his body tumbling from the bridge. The wheels of the train were crushing away his futile life. Let me kill myself! The arti prayers were over, but Bapuji was grieving so much that he did not move. Though other devotees had left the temple, he still stood there, weeping. Great sobs convulsed his body. Then the saint moved straight towards the weeping Bapuji and gently took his hand.

Bapuji turned to his sympathizer and fell crying into his arms. Come along; follow me. Bapuji stopped weeping and followed him without a word or even the slightest hesitation. They walked out of the temple and down the road. Near a closed shop they found a seat and sat there side by side.

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Then the saint spoke again, ever so tenderly, My son, you have been thinking of committing suicide! Suicide is a forbidden act. How could a stranger read his thoughts? Frightened, Bapuji became pale and looked at the saint. As an immediate reaction he denied the fact and said, No!

His voice broke as he spoke these words. Otherwise, he had not intended to tell a lie. His lips wore a faint smile of total understanding as he said, "My son, you are a sadhak, a seeker of truth and holiness. Tonight you planned to jump from the Sandhurst Bridge and onto the track of an electric train as it passed underneath. But then he confessed, Yes, I spoke untruthfully. Please forgive me. With this admission he bowed before the saint.

Within a few minutes this kind stranger had brought a new faith to him. The saint touched his shoulder affectionately and said, It was only natural for you to hide your plan. You are forgiven. Tomorrow is Thursday. See me between three and six in the afternoon. Bapuji stood still and watched him disappear into the night. Ordinarily Bapuji was not easily impressed, but this man had read his thoughts and reached out to him so tenderly in his darkest night.

He was deeply moved by this mystic saint. Now Bapuji wanted to live. The idea of suicide had totally vanished! The saint usually gave darshan to the general public just once a week, on Thursdays from p. The ashram gate was closed promptly at six and latecomers had to return disappointed. But on this day, amazingly, the gate was still open. Hurriedly, Bapuji went inside. In the darshan hall, seated on a platform, he saw the same kind stranger who had met him the previous evening.

His disciples sat before him on the clean stone floor. Everyone appeared to be eagerly awaiting some special guest. Four months previously the saint had told them that a young man who would be his foremost disciple would come on this very evening. As Bapuji moved towards it the saint said, Swami, my son, it is nice that you have come. Bapuji was surprised. Many people from Madras province in south India are dark complexioned and have names ending in swami.

It is because in the future you are going to be a renunciate sannyasi-swami ". Bapuji remained silent, so the saint continued, Now, if you want to stay with me in this ashram you are welcome. Destiny was smiling on him. He promptly accepted the offer. He had two things in mind: he could learn Yoga, and he could render service to this great yogi. It was like moving from earth to heaven, a journey from suicide to exultation.

One of his wealthy disciples had asked him to use this palatial estate as his ashram. It was a handsome, secluded, four-storied building with a pleasant garden surrounded by a compound wall. The setting was enchantment itself. The public gate in front was kept open only on Thursdays, but a small gate in the back was always kept open for close disciples.

As a matter of fact, the saint was the only occupant of this entire stately dwelling. Now Bapuji became the second, and he was overwhelmed with happiness. He thought that Lady Luck had favored him and his bad days were over. Only two days earlier he had considered himself a failure in worldly life. Now he was filled with enthusiasm for treading the path of spiritual life.

It is really true: only if we can become useless for mundane purposes can we prove to be useful for serving God. The saint planned to begin teaching Bapuji the yogic texts the next day. Accordingly, he scheduled the lessons for an hour each morning and an hour each afternoon. At 10 a. After prostrating himself at the feet of the saint, Bapuji sat on the floor in front of him. Since it was the first session, Bapuji should have remained silent, allowing the saint to initiate the discussion.

But his everlasting curiosity compelled him to speak: May I ask a question? They should be exhausted gradually, and ultimately annihilated.

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When the mind is thoughtless, it becomes absorbed in God. This state is called manolay. But before attempting the actual practice, you should understand the basic theoretical knowledge behind it. Then the saint gave Bapuji his first lesson in Yoga. At the stroke of eleven, the teaching session ended. Just then, a lady disciple peeped into the room and said, "Gurudev, lunch is ready.

They passed two large rooms before reaching the dining room. Here Bapuji was stunned to see two gold-plated and two silver-plated low stools laid with plates, cups, jugs, and other utensils of gold and silver. Before he could recover from his surprise, the saint forced him to sit on a gold-plated stool. If that is so, what is the difference between a seat of gold and a heap of dust? A diamond always remains a diamond, whether it is embedded in gold or silver or lost in mud. The saint was an accomplished yogi, whose mind was influenced neither by rags nor riches.

Only a truly emancipated soul could know and feel such detachment from worldly glitter. The average human would be swept away. Being human, Bapuji naturally felt proud to be sitting on a gold-plated stool and eating from a golden plate. A pauper until the previous day, he reveled in this fabulous wealth. He was so excited that he could not even remember how much, or what, he ate. Afterwards, Bapuji went for a long walk to digest both his lunch and his experience! Again that afternoon he went to the saint for a study session. As he bowed, the saint touched his head lovingly and said, Swami, why are you so fascinated by gold and silver?

They do not even belong to you, and yet you are so proud of them. It is sheer foolishness to be excited and proud over such worldly and illusory things. Forget about gold and silver forever. The next day in the dining room all four stools were gold-plated. Because the saint had taken a seat on a silver one the previous day, his millionaire disciples had replaced them. Money was no problem for them. But on this day Bapuji was unimpressed. Gold and silver were no enticement. His attraction for ostentation had vanished.

He was able to eat in a calm and peaceful frame of mind. Mahatmaji had arrived in Bombay six months before he met Bapuji. When Laxmichand Seth, a Bombay merchant, first encountered Mahatmaji it was an extraordinary event, a milestone of an introduction to this great man.

Though he had little formal education, he was a wise, virtuous, and polite man. On his daily visits to a temple in the Madhavbagh area of the city, Laxmichand unfailingly gave alms to the beggars who sat in front of the abode of the Gods. One morning, while offering charity after worship, he saw an ascetic who sat leaning against a pillar a little distant from a group of beggars. He approached him and offered him some money. Mahatmaji, I know you are not a beggar. You are an ascetic, a monk. I understand that. I am offering the money with the thought that you, too, may sometime need it.

Kindly accept it. If you feel this is not enough, or have another requirement, please tell me. I will try to fulfill it, said the polite businessman. When you need money, you too are a beggar. You cannot offer anything to me. The wealth that I posses is so great that no one in this world can match it. Since you are running after money, you are the beggar, not I.

From their conversation Laxmichand realized that this was not an ordinary monk. So he told him again, "Mahatmaji! With this understanding I donate to whatever extent possible. It is only you who should be pleased. After worship it is my practice to offer a gift to every needy person sitting here.

It gratifies my mind. If you have an abundance of riches go straight to your home and save your son with it. If your money can save your son you are not a beggar but truly a rich man. Laxmichand was puzzled.

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He asked, What are you talking about? I just came from my home. It is my routine to come here for worship before going to my office, said Laxmichand. All right, said Laxmichand. He thought that the monk was an eccentric. As he got out of his car, he saw the manager of his firm running to him.

There was a phone call from your wife asking that you should return home at once , said the manager. The boy was lying unconscious. Doctors attending him were not optimistic and told Laxmichand: He is unconscious and is not responding. Breath, heartbeat, and pulse are not discernible. We do not have much hope.

If your money can save your son then you are not a beggar. Realizing the situation, he drove back to the temple and found the Mahatma sitting by the pillar in the same posture. When Laxmichand approached, the Mahatma asked, Why have you returned? What happened? Laxmichand fell prostrate at the feet of the Mahatma. Each of the three other women begrudged Cassandra for her success, believing her to have rewritten their shared history for her glory.

It wasn't really a surprise to me that they closed ranks upon her but it certainly came as a surprise to Cassandra. I got the picture that Cassandra saw only what she wanted to see, not what was actually in front of her.

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Towards the end of the book the story took a turn for the suspenseful, which although not my favorite genre, was, I felt, well deserved. As the women begin to slowly leak the unfortunate story of Callie's tragedy to Cassandra, the plot began to move and weave in ways I never saw coming. The secrets that had been hidden begin to come to light, and all the people that Cassandra had carefully canvassed become unmoored and careless with their stories.

It was interesting to see who held information and to what lengths they would go to keep it buried. Finally the players begin to turn upon each other, leaving old notions and ideas shattered in their wake. The stunning conclusion to the story left me feeling very satisfied and I marveled at the author's ability to keep so many intertwined events clear and relevant. Overall, I found this book a really pleasant diversion that was able to make me feel an abundance of conflicting emotions and anticipation.

The very literary quality of the writing combined with the elements of suspense and interpersonal relationships within the story made for a great reading experience. I think that readers who like a good dose of realism in their fiction would probably enjoy this book, as well as those who normally gravitate towards mildly suspenseful reads. I think that Lippman did a fantastic job cobbling all of these various elements together in her story and I would definitely recommend this book.

It was a highly entertaining read. About Laura Lippman Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned to her hometown in to work as a journalist. After writing seven books while still a full-time reporter, she left the Baltimore Sun to focus on fiction. Learn more about Laura Lippman and her books on her website. Posted by Zibilee at PM 15 comments. Shortly after their wedding, both Paula Butturini and her husband John Tagliabue are struck by separate tragedies and their new life together is drastically altered. As they begin to heal, Paula discovers her passion and fondness for delicious and uncomplicated food.

Food becomes Paula and John's lifeline, and as they become whole again, they learn to cook and eat not only for the nourishment of their bodies, but also for their souls. Just when things seem to be getting back to normal, John spirals into a dangerous depression which seems to only get worse over time.

Paula, barely hanging on to her own sanity, reaches back to food to help guide her through the difficult times and to provide John with the sustenance that he needs to overcome his depression. As Paula describes her husband's downward spiral, she also describes the meals that she cooked for both him and herself, hoping against hope that the food will be able to overcome the pain and disillusionment once again. Candid and deep, Keeping the Feast describes one couple's journey out of the depths of despair and into the sunlight of new hope.

I was not really sure how this book, a memoir that dealt with pain and frustration, could have anything whatsoever to do with food, but after reading it I think that Butturini did a great job with the melding of these two distinct parts of her story with grace and ease. In the book, Butturini does her best to explain the tragic circumstances that surrounded the early years of her marriage. Both Paula and her husband were journalists during that time, and both of them were dealt a pretty severe blow in their professional endeavors.

Paula was severely beaten by the police while covering a riot in Prague and her husband John was shot by a sniper in Romania. When the couple retreat to Italy to begin a long convalescence, they discover that although their foundations have crumbled, they can find pleasure amongst the simple things in life, mainly food.

Paula describes her sun-soaked mornings in Italy, roaming the covered markets for fresh ingredients that she later transforms into the feasts that so excite and heal herself and her husband. She catalogs her wonderful finds with an enthusiasm and wonder that bounces off the page, taking the time to impart the specifics of dozens of different items that she finds on her daily journey and walks her readers through the steps the food takes in becoming part of her gustatory offering to her husband.

As they both begin to heal, food remains a stanch pleasure that never recedes into the background of their lives, and they find themselves trying new and different things. Using the treasured recipes of family and friends, Paula delights in her creativity and produces meals that wash succulently over the reader. With excitement she relays the wonder of her surroundings and her meals, never suspecting that things are headed for a nose dive once again.

Then, it happens. One day John shrinks into silence and depression so deep that medications and doctors can't touch it. Paula relates with despair that she does not know how to help her husband and turns once again towards food to be her magical elixir. One of the most shocking things about this section of the book was the fact that John goes to almost primitive lengths to address his condition. Finding no help from pharmaceuticals, he decides to take his chances with electro-shock therapy, which has helped him in the past.

Still he suffers, and the only thing Paula can do is keep him grounded by providing the wonderful food he loves and try to keep him rooted as strongly as she can into the present. I really admired Paula's perseverance. I think that most people dealing with the circumstances that she had would have probably turned tail and run. She never did that. Instead, she plotted a course and stuck to it feverishly, not knowing if it would ever work. She translated a lot of her grief into her cooking and turned something hideous and awful into something healing and rejuvenating.

I think I most admired the way she stuck by her husband through all of these awful times. She mentions that she could have left him, that the thought had crossed her mind many times, but she believed that she was John's only salvation and she stuck it out amidst the pain and frustration that she must have felt every minute of every day. In the end, this story is about survival and wholeness, and though it takes the determination of one woman scratching out success from tortured outlets, the couple learns to revel in the time and healing they have carved out for themselves.

It is by no means an easy or uncomplicated read. Emotion and frailty pour from the pages in wave after wave of defeat. But somehow, they manage to become whole again and learn that life can be fruitful and rewarding, despite the difficult path they have traveled. In my reading of this book, I think only one thing could have made it better, and that would have been the inclusion of some of the recipes that made the book so colorful and mouthwatering.

Other than that, I would have to say that I found it a particularly engaging and emotion filled read. This is not a book for foodies alone. I think it would greatly appeal to those readers who have battled with mental and physical ailments and for those who like to read triumphant stories of redemption. I think that Butturini does a great job with juggling all of the practical concerns that overtake a heart in turmoil without turning herself into a pitiful and woeful character.

What she manages to capture in this book is essentially what she manages to capture in her life: hope and healing. A very engrossing look into the lives of an everyday couple pitted against destruction. This book was provided as a complimentary review copy. Posted by Zibilee at AM 13 comments. Labels: Food Literature , Memoir. The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar - pgs. Ostensibly, the move is a career opportunity for Frank, but the real reason seems to be an effort to put Benny's death behind them.

Although Ellie finds comfort and solace in her volunteer activities and close friends, Frank finds India harder to negotiate. He is working for a company that is mindlessly exploiting the country's natural resources, and labor disputes and anger abound among his workers. Frank's only happiness is his odd relationship with the young charismatic son of his housekeeping couple, Ramesh. Frank has taken the boy under his wing for tutoring and mentoring, despite the anger and resentment that it causes Ramesh's father, Prakash. As Ellie struggles with Frank's emotional distancing from herself, she also comes to resent Frank's growing obsession with the young Indian boy.

Frank, oblivious to those around him, begins to contemplate dangerous plans for himself and Ramesh. He begins to put into motion a series of events that will devastate the life and family that he loves, changing the fates of the people around him forever. Both lucid and frightening, The Weight of Heaven expertly examines the mind of man filled to the brim with compulsion and the chaos he leaves in his wake. It's funny, I consider Indian fiction to be one of my favorite genres, but looking back, I see that I have not really read any books that fit this description in the almost three years that I have been blogging.

I felt that this book was a bit of a departure for the author. Instead of focusing intently on the vagaries of India and its inhabitants, this book mildly veers off into the suspense genre. Though suspense is not really my favorite genre, I did end up enjoying the book very much. About a third of the story, plot wise, focuses on American business practices in India.

Umrigar uses her fictional framework to show what can only be called American bullying and slyness in acquiring and exploiting a specific natural resource of the country. It turns out that this resource is something that sustains the local people and that they are being restricted from using it, as American interests have bought complete ownership of the land and everything on it. This causes major problems in the local economy and the well-being of the people.

I felt these sections to be very candid and thought provoking. It is only fairly recently that the American population is getting a whiff of what other countries think about us, and I have to be honest in saying that sometimes we do come across as a bullying and exploitative group. Umrigar shows this in her writing without name calling and ostracising, and in her efforts to humanize these issues, makes her point very eloquently. I found the relationship between Frank and Ramesh to be very puzzling at first. Frank, a grown man, was constantly searching out the young boy to play and study with, ignoring his wife's protests and reservations.

Upon closer inspection, I began to see that Frank was actually trying to recreate the life of his son, using the young boy as a stand-in. What was once strange became harrowing when Frank's obsession began to grow out of control. His usurping of Ramesh, despite the anger of the boy's father, seemed at first selfish and then began to become alarming.


As Frank's preoccupation with the boy grows, his life begins to spin out of control, first at work and then at home with Ellie. I felt like Frank was more than a little mentally unbalanced, though he managed to hide his true intentions and feelings from almost everyone, including Ramesh. The end of the book had a pretty substantial twist that left my mouth dry and my heart pounding. It is at this point that Frank has become totally unhinged and makes some choices that not only leave lasting repercussions, but also change the barometer of the story.

Umrigar effortlessly turns the tide in her tale from a quiet and thoughtful character study into a full-fledged and riveting drama. Watching Frank turn from a seemingly benign father figure and husband into a cold and calculating schemer turned my insides cold and left me feeling a sense of dread that was fully realized at the story's conclusion. Umrigar dealt a forceful blow in her tale and the story never felt any less organic for all her skillful manipulations of the narrative.

I think this book has a lot of cross-genre appeal and that many would find the story hard to put down. With her clear and concise writing and her expert handling of emotional and charged situations, Umrigar manages to create a powerful and energetic story that both engages and frightens with it's believability. I also think that those who enjoy Indian fiction would love this book, despite its focus on American characters. I know that this book is one that I will definitely read again, with an eye towards monitoring Frank's downward spiral more closely. A unique and tense read. Posted by Zibilee at PM 12 comments.

Labels: Book Tour , Indian Fiction. Our Hart by Lloyd Lofthouse. After the death of his beloved concubine at the hands of a disgruntled assassin, Hart moves his remaining concubine, Ayaou, and himself to safer quarters; But this does not abate his feelings of fear and desolation for the safety of Ayaou. Robert is perplexed over who would wish to do his family harm, but he does not have the luxury of time to ponder these things, for he is needed in governmental capacities in China.

Working his way up from an interpreter to Inspector General of Maritime Customs, Hart befriends some of the most powerful men in China and brings revolutionary ideas and change to a country where time seems to have stood still. Although his star continues to rise, he is held back by his love of Ayaou, knowing that by marrying her, his career will falter. Still, Robert staunchly refuses to leave Ayaou and fathers children with her, hoping that one day he will be able to bring his relationship with her into the light.

In this poignant tale of love and duty, Llloyd Lofthouse illuminates one of the most fascinating and forgotten men in history, the loyal and ingenious Robert Hart. The more I delve into historical fiction, the more I realize that there are so many people and places that I have no experience with, and I am always surprised to discover that there is so much richness in these seemingly quiet stories.

My experience reading this book is no different. I am not sure how I had never heard of Robert Hart, but after reading this second installment of his story, I have found another character in the annals of history to ponder over and admire. This book was written in fairly simple language. Starting out, I had felt that this might be a hindrance to the tale, for it might fail to capture the more complex nature of the plot.

As I read on, I discovered that the choice of unadorned language really made all of the elements of the plot stand out in a way that complicated sentence structure wouldn't. It was not a simple story but the fact that it was told in such a simple way fully highlighted the impact of heroism and devotion of the main character.

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Lofthouse managed to be very through and complex through the use of minimalist language, which I really ended up enjoying and remarking over. Though the focus was mainly on Robert Hart, I was a bit more interested in his concubine Ayaou, and not due to a fondness for her.

I found her to be whiny and self-absorbed and thought that Robert was really a saint for putting up with her. Between her running away when she didn't get what she wanted and being petulant because she couldn't figure out what direction she wanted to take her relationship in, it seemed remarkable to me that Robert continued to love and adore her throughout. It became ever clearer to me that they were not really a good match, and why others, including his family in Ireland, would object to their marriage. Though Robert does some amazing things in his career in China, I thought the most amazing thing he was able to do was love Ayaou unconditionally for so many years.

To me it was remarkable that he was such a glutton for punishment. Hart himself was a wonderful character to be invested with. He had a quiet determination and a no-nonsense attitude towards his work for the consulate. Where countless others failed, he was able to triumph due to his strict moral code and the fact that he understood Chinese culture so fully. As he worked his way up the ladder, he became more and more well regarded until he was hobnobbing with the emperors. When the elite of China began to call him "Our Hart," it was clear to me that he had managed something that no other Westerner was able to do: blend in so perfectly that he became in essence, Chinese.

He never failed to rise to the occasion, and no matter what he was asked to sacrifice, he did so with aplomb. He pushed through some pretty magnificent changes in China and was responsible for building most of China's railroads, post offices and schools. Much was said in this book about the disparities between Eastern and Western culture. Robert's success is mostly due to the fact that he thought of the Chinese as a worthy people with a culture that was not to be absorbed and destroyed, but rather a culture to be honored and preserved.

Throughout the story, many other figures are highlighted, and most of these men had a reprehensible attitude towards the country and its inhabitants. Men that thought of the Chinese as savages, good only for hard labor and extermination. These men came from all over the world to subjugate China and steal its resources, never willing to preserve and replenish the beauty that had existed for thousands of years.

I enjoyed this look at a time and place that was fraught with uncertainty and was pleased to get to know the force of nature that was Robert Hart. I think that those readers with a discerning eye for Chinese history would be greatly impacted by this book and learn a lot about not only the area, but the politics of the time period.

Don't let the simple style fool you, this is a story full of bravery, honor and sacrifice. A very compelling read.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The narrow lane has been widened and paved. Simply speaking, I felt that Ramesh was trying to say to us that he was the only one who had right understanding, and not the gurus who had gone before him. It is not personal. Rating details. You [must] follow meditation assiduously TVB was short tempered and would scold people for falling sick.

Posted by Zibilee at AM 10 comments. Labels: Historical Fiction. Winner of The Believers. If you did not win this time around, please keep checking back, I will be hosting some other great giveaways in the near future! Posted by Zibilee at PM 5 comments. Labels: Contest Winner. The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane - pgs. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who were born into Roman slavery. They are unexpectedly sold one day by their malicious owner when they are just fifteen: Romulus to a school for practicing gladiators and Fabiola to a high-priced brothel, where she will meet a rich and powerful man who holds the keys to her future.

Tarquinius is an Etruscan seer and warrior. Fleeing from his life as a slave and farmhand, he arrives in Rome seeking retribution for the death of his mentor, Olenus, who has taught Tarquinius everything he knows. Soon Tarquinius will find that all his gifts are put to the test in his desire to seek revenge and eventually return to his homeland. Brennus is a powerful Gaulish warrior who has just been sold as a slave to the gladiator school after having watched his village and clan be destroyed by the invading Roman army.