Sam has waited all his life for the man he knows waits for him somewhere. When he visits the island of Skate to do some work for Denton, a mysterious young aristocrat, he is taught how to submit to other men; acting out an elaborate fantasy in which the young men become wrestling slaves as in ancient Rome and Denton their master.
At first, Sam is reluctant, but before long he is submerged in a world where sex and status are interwoven. He must learn how to win and how to lose. If he is to have his beautiful prize - the wrestler Robert - he must learn how the Romans played their games.