The war that began in 218 B.C. with Hannibal's march across the Alps is one of the familiar stories of history, but its details are little known. A struggle between an emerging barbarian power and an old culture, it pitted a Roman army of mostly farmers against the highly trained officers of Carthage. Hannibal's empire, founded on her control of the sea, would lose the fight against the Romans' new methods of naval warfare. Only through the wit of their beloved leader would the Carthaginians recover economically from the war, but internal strife would drive Hannibal to exile and eventually to suicide. Brilliantly evoking the world of the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War, Bryher creates a common man's view of the greatest struggle in which ancient Rome engaged through the lives of two Greek traders.