All over Athens the cocks were crowing, the sky was turning from dark-blue to oyster-grey, and the city was waking to one of its great events, the annual festival in the vast open-air theatre. Alexis, son of Leon, was full of anticipation as he dreamed of having his own plays performed there one day. But he was to be involved in more than playwriting before the day was over, for among the spectators at the horse race, by the light of the flaming torches, he heard Hippias, the arrogant dandy, and a stranger with a beaked se and over-high cheekbones, plotting to overthrow the democracy of Athens. For the rest of the year, two things possessed Alexis: his comedy The Gadfly, and the plans he laid with his friend Corinna to trap the conspirators and save his beloved city. His exultation and anxiety grew together as the fateful Theatre Festival arrived once more. Geoffrey Trease has combined a fast-moving dramatic story with a vivid and accurate picture of a great historical period.