Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Downie’
It is best to read this mystery series in order starting with: Medicus and Terra Incognita, but it’s also fine just on its’ own – there is some background information you need but it’s not wholly necessary to understand the plot in this novel.
At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home to Gaul. But with Tilla getting icy greetings from Ruso’s relatives, a family member having mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso household teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it’s hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family’s chief creditor, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins… (From Amazon.ca)
I enjoyed reading the first two and it seems with each book I’ve read from Ruth Downie, they improve each time. Although I found the first two a little on the dry side at times, Persona Non Grata was different. I was more interested in the book, and felt myself turning the pages a lot more quickly than the first two in the series.
I really had to sympathize with Gaius. Not only does he always get the short end of the stick in life, but you can’t help but laugh at his predicaments because things just seem to go from bad to worse when he’s around. His family isn’t the most supportive either but they were such a fun read and there was more than one moment where I found myself chuckling out loud. (Try reading Gaius and his fight with his brother oh my, that was a good laugh.)
There is more of a development in the relationship between Gaius and Tilla. I like how their character development is never quite finished but they develop enough so the reader is satisfied with the way they are throughout the novel. I enjoyed reading about both of them in this book much more. There’s more feeling and emotion between the two. I love how Gaius just wants to take care of Tilla, but she goes out on her own anyway. I like her independence and her strength. The two really do compliment each other nicely.
I enjoyed the plot. Suspects were great and each had a good motive. I was kept guessing although I did have a hunch about the last third of the book. Nevertheless I did like how the book ended and there was more action mentioned to make the plot more exciting and the pace was faster. It was also interesting to note, that early Christians are introduced into the story. I thought that was well done and it did give the plot a much more historical feel to it. When it comes to historical accuracy, I liked it and it seemed pretty accurate to me. Downie’s descriptions are well written and the setting is pictured clearly. I believe she does provide an Author’s Note at the back to explain certain inconsistencies and provides more information.
I do wish there was more to the ‘Dramatis Personae’ at the beginning of the book. It is a little hard to keep track of all the characters (Gaius has a family that could rival The Brady Bunch) plus the suspects, plus other secondary characters. It’s a lot to figure out and I thought the list of characters in the beginning could use a little more clarification.
To fans of Gaius, it’s a great book. I absolutely enjoyed this and the way the book ended paves the way for much more to look forward to. I believe the change of setting is what helped a lot for this book (and quite possibly the series). It’s a great addition to this series, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Ruth Downie just gets better and better with each book!
Although not necessary, you might want to read Medicus before moving onto this one. Medicus does contain background information on the main characters and it might help you and make the characters more “rounded out”. Although you can read this one as a stand alone if you’d like. I enjoyed Medicus myself.
Terra Incognita has our army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso in the Roman occupied region of Britannia, where he can find a little peace and quiet away from the chaos just experienced in the last novel. However, Britiannia isn’t the most quiet place at the moment. First it’s Tilla’s home, and where she originates from with her tribe. Second, her tribe is under the leadership of a mysterious character called the Stag Man who seems to be putting more fuel to a possible rebellion. Then a corpse turns up in an alley and it involves a mad doctor, Tilla’s old flame, and various shady characters of all sorts of types. Ruso then finds himself in the middle of this and it’s upto him to solve this mystery at the possible expense of giving up a growing romance with Tilla.
I sort of found this book to drag through the beginning and middle. Everything seemed to be going slowly and the plot wasn’t really grabbing my attention like the previous book did. I didn’t find it as witty or comical as the last one, although once Ruso’s friend Valens came into the picture, then everything started to lighten up (perhaps Valens is now going to be the official comic relief in this series). It did have some intriguing exciting bits in the beginning, because I was wondering who the Stag Man was and the chaos he was creating throughout the novel. Yet I just felt the plot not moving fast enough and my interest in it was starting to falter a bit. I found myself putting the book down and then coming back to it every so often. Finally I made myself finish it.
I have to say though, the ending sort of made up for the lackluster plot. It seemed all the action was built up towards the end and the intrigue was more obvious too. I have no regrets reading it. I noticed the moment Valens came into the picture, the book started to pick up a little. (Maybe it’s Valen’s job to save the plot). However, character wise, it was nice to see more of Tilla and I love her strength and stubborness. Of all the characters I like her and Valens the most. I think there’s still some work to be done with Ruso. To me he’s a flat character and needs more development. He’s just too two dimensional at the moment for me to really like him yet – at least his sarcasm and wit was still there which provided a bit of “flesh” for this character.
There were some funny parts but not as many as the first, it was a little more serious and darker this time around. It’s a different change as I was expecting another witty mystery. The story certainly could have been shorter.
Overall, it’s not going to stop me from reading the third one. I’ll keep going. The ending has me intrigued again as to what’s going to happen to both Tilla and Ruso. I’m hoping it’s better than this one, as it wasn’t that intriguing or falls short of being a great sequel. Nevertheless it had a good ending that was interesting enough to hopefully get fans to keep reading.
I give it a 6 out of 10.
Today’s Booking Through Thursday and the question is:
What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?
- Hmmm. I don’t really read funny books. There were parts in the book that make me laugh but if you’re thinking of being genre specific then that’s just not possible. However if you were to ask me which one of the recent books I’ve read that made me giggle and snort it would be Medicus by Ruth Downie. A lot of parts in that book just made me laugh out loud. One particular part where the main character is hopping about after being hit in the head and his toe got stubbed I was laughing so hard my boyfriend had to shut me up. Then there’s that toenail part (let’s just not go there) it’s actually making me smile and snicker even now.
What about you guys? what made you laugh?