Now he has a new problem: a slave who won't talk and can't cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar.
A few years earlier, after he rescued Emperor Trajan from an earthquake in Antioch, Ruso seemed headed for glory: now he's living among heathens in a vermin-infested bachelor pad and must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.
Who are the true barbarians, the conquered or the conquerors? It's up to Ruso (certainly the most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire) to discover the truth. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own.
©2007 Ruth Downie; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Downie's auspicious debut sparkles with beguiling characters and a vividly imagined evocation of a hazy frontier." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of Alexander McCall Smith will delight in this series debut set in Roman-occupied Britain and featuring wry army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso." (Booklist)
I am a big fan of novels from this era in history and bought this book based on numerous great reviews. Sadly I did not even finish it - after seven hours of "waiting for the story to take off" I threw in the towel. Its simply too slow moving and uneventful to keep my attention. The main character seemed less interested in the story/plot than me, so no sense of urgency is created and the mystery/crime angle never feels part of the story. I really wanted to like this book, but it turned out to be like some movies where all the best bits are shows in the trailer, and the actual movie disappoints.
The slowness with which the barest of plots was moved forward.
Pleasant, excellent articulation, well paced. The narrator is very good.
Tedious passages where the Medicus ponders his next move.
A very simple and predictable mystery, with no challenges or surprises for the reader.
Oh my goodness what a boring book. Narrator has a nice British voice but it did lull me to sleep while driving so that is a point against. For a novel about the Roman Empire the author didn't seem overly concerned with placing details in context. It just seemed like a modern day tale, picked up and transplanted into the Roman Empire for no conceivable reason that I could detect, since it lent nothing at all to the story or characters, except I suppose the part about buying and selling slaves. All of which would be sort of fine if the story was interesting or engaging in any way... But alas! Simply a godawful listen. Really disappointed.
Interesting story that seemed to ramble with the plot coming in and out of focus but always moving forward. The performance was enjoyable and the character personalities were believable. I am glad I purchased this book.
The book synopsis would lead you to belive this is a book about the medical services in the Roman Legion. it turned out to be a murder mystery with the Medicus participating as the would be detective. Felt like a case of bait and switch to me.
This was a perfectly pleasant little historical mystery with engaging characters tuned to appeal to a progressive, 21st century audience.
Medicus is set in 1st century Roman Britain. Gaius Petrius Ruso is an army doctor stationed with the legions. He's got family troubles, money troubles, job troubles, and all he wants is some time to finish this book he's been writing, and maybe a promotion to Chief Medical Officer of the garrison hospital. The problem is, he's also burdened with a basic sense of decency that doesn't allow him to turn his back on an abused slave girl. And of course, when he ends up taking her in at his own expense, he's much too decent to rape her, beat her, or sell her, or do any of the other things that Romans actually did with their slaves.
While ostensibly a historical novel, Medicus is written, throughout, as if it were basically a contemporary story. The author deliberately takes historical situations but frames them the way their modern equivalents would see it, so Gaius, while practicing ancient Roman medicine, sounds very much like a modern medical doctor, and his career difficulties (wanting to be promoted to CMO, having an affable playboy colleague who scores all the women and the promotions, bureaucratic tussles with a penny-pinching hospital administrator, etc.) could come right out of a modern medical drama.
Where this runs aground against the supposedly historical setting is where the author tries to inject some consciousness about colonialism and sex trafficking. The Romans brutally occupied Britain and subjugated the native peoples, and while Gaius never really questions the economic underpinnings of the Roman Empire or the basic inferiority of the uncivilized natives, he's a "good Roman" who thinks it's not nice to mistreat them, and when he discovers just how miserable women who've been forced into prostitution to serve the needs of the local garrison are, he feels appropriately bad about it.
This is a frequent problem with historical novels - modern listeners won't sympathize with a protagonist who has the actual historical attitudes of his time and place. No doubt there were nice Romans who didn't beat or rape their slaves, but Gaius Ruso really doesn't act like a Roman military officer, he acts like a modern medical doctor who is a bit bemused to find himself living in Roman Britain.
Complaints about historicity aside, Medicus had lots of characters, some of whom will no doubt return in future books, and enough twists to keep things moving. There is a good amount of humor, and if you listen to it as a Roman-themed medical detective drama without any expectations of immersive verisimilitude, you will find it enjoyable.
Gaius and his "slave" Tilla are obviously going to be dancing the romantic tension dance for the next few books.
Simon Vance, as always, does an excellent job narrating.
The premise of this first book in the series is a Roman doctor, attached to a legion stationed in Brittania. Without intending to he finds himself investigating a murder, while at the same time rescuing a female slave with a compound fracture of the arm. By books end he solves the murder and successfully treats the slave's arm (no mean feat in the days before x-rays and antibiotics).
Wonderfully well written. Very enjoyable. I'm up to book 3 now, and probably in for the series.
If you're in the mood for a slow, winding, description-driven book, that goes nowhere much, this could be for you. The language is nice and pleasant, the historical setting interesting. Simon Vance does the different voices and accents brilliantly. But even he can't rescue this story.
I'm 5 hours into it with 5 hours to go and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. I can't stand it. Pleasant enough as it is, I don't think I'll be finishing it. It feels like such a waste of time!!!!
If you prefer books that are plot-driven, where every detail moves the plot forward, this is definitely not for you (or my husband).
You know that feeling when you get to the end of a book and you loved the story and the narrator so much that your next listen is something you ... put off for a while? It feels like nothing will be as enjoyable.
I loved everything about this book. I truly enjoy historical fiction and a lot of what Ruth Downie depicts in this novel was surprising. Sometimes, I felt like I was reading a contemporary novel because of the sophistication of medical practices and governmental bureaucracy, not to mention the use of "tablets." The characters are very relatable and the humor mixed into this murder mystery of the Roman Empire makes the book enjoyable for a wide audience.
Simon Vance is an extraordinary narrator, nuancing the voices of his characters with personality as well as familiarity.
Give it a listen. It will be time well spent.
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