The Eagle and the Dragon: A Novel of Rome and China

The Eagle and the Dragon: A Novel of Rome and China

by Lewis McIntyre


Publisher Lewis F. McIntyre

Published in Literature & Fiction/Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction/Historical, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


An epic journey across the mysterious worlds of the first century. From the storm-tossed Indian Ocean to the opulent Hanaean court, from the wild grassy steppes north of China to the forbidding peaks of the Pamir Mountains of Bactria, they fight to for their lives, hoping to find the road that will lead them back to Rome.

Sample Chapter

The sailor came down to the hold, not with dinner, but with a key. He unlocked each man in turn while two sailors stood guard, holding back a bit in case the Romans tried to make a break. The three men rubbed their wrists and ankles, trying to get the circulation back into the pinched flesh.

“To what do we owe this honor, sailor?” asked Antonius, in Greek. “Topside. Captain wants you,” the sailor replied with a strong accent.

The three followed, Galosga and Gaius aiding the none-too-steady Antonius up the ladder through the hatch onto the deck. They blinked in the dim light of a stormy evening near sunset, clouds glowering gray and gloomy. A steady wind keened over the deck, humming in the rigging, spitting stinging spray from the crests of waves. Gaius noted that only the artemon and the mainsail remained deployed, half-furled by brailes. All the other sails were bound fast to the yard. The sailor separated Galosga from the Romans, and led them into the master’s cabin, what had formerly been their quarters. He then left, slamming the latch shut firmly to keep the weather and water out.

The stateroom was dark, the windows shuttered, glass removed and stowed. An oil lamp swung lazily from the overhead with the ship’s motion, casting a fitful glow throughout the darkened room. Ibrahim was seated at the desk. “Antonius Aristides. How pleasant to see you again! Come in, sit down, both of you,” he said in Greek, motioning to the empty chairs.

“No, thanks, I’ll stand. Been sitting all day,” Antonius responded in Latin. He spat, working the thick gobbet of spit into the polished floor with his toe.

“Suit yourself, Roman dog.” Ibrahim refused to change languages, and continued in Greek. “We have a bad storm coming, and I will not leave you to drown, chained in the hold of a foundering ship. However, make no mistake.” His arm snaked out of his robe and a small knife flashed through the air over the desk to land with a quivering thunk, transfixing Antonius’ spit inches from his big toe. “I have no qualms about killing you, and I may do so yet. But no man deserves to die in chains, alone, not even a Roman.

“We will need every man to work the ship, if we are to live,” Ibrahim continued. “You two will work with my sailors, hauling lines and doing what you are told. If you try to make more of this than it is, I will throw you overboard. Understood?” The deck pitched upward vertically and rolled to starboard, the ship shuddering as the bow stumbled back down into a big wave. The spray spattered over the quarterdeck above their heads.

Ibrahim studied the two men intently, as they studied him. Then Gaius responded, also in Latin, “So be it. We shall talk later!” It was not a question.

Ibrahim produced two coils of rope from under the desk. “You will wear safety lines at all times tonight. That is not just for you, but for all the men as well. These waves can wash you over the side with no warning.” He handed them the ropes, fitted with bronze hooks at the end. Outside, to give emphasis to his words, a wave broke over the starboard rail with a boom and a crash of splintered wood. Shouts of men could be heard in half a dozen languages, swearing as the water rushed about the deck. The ship staggered to port under the blow, buckling the men’s knees as the bow plowed once again into a wave, and the load of water hissed off the deck. It was going to be a long night.

“Now out!”

Outside, the darkness had grown much deeper, although it was just sunset. Rain spat fitfully, propelled by the wind into horizontal stinging pellets. The sails were now fully reefed, the bare poles and rigging moaning in the sustained winds. The seas were mountainous, waves rolling by in slow, unhurried grace like passing elephants, plodding but unstoppable, as the wind ripped white spindrift from their tops. The Europa rode up and down the sides of these huge rollers, pitching and bucking like a tethered horse. And tethered she was, to a host of sea anchors deployed from her bow and stern. Occasionally she would catch a wave from the wrong angle and it would explode in a dark torrent over the gunwale, boiling fiercely, running down the scuppers and back out overside. Everything, the sea, the sky, the ship and the men themselves, was in shades of black and gray.


Excerpted from "The Eagle and the Dragon: A Novel of Rome and China" by Lewis McIntyre. Copyright © 2017 by Lewis McIntyre. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Lewis McIntyre

Lewis McIntyre

This is the first literary work published by Lewis McIntyre, a senior engineer and a retired Naval aviator living and working in southern Maryland with his wife Karen, who doubles as his editor, literary critic and inspiration. Besides writing and working at Patuxent River, Lewis enjoys biking, running, hunting and amateur radio.

View full Profile of Lewis McIntyre

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