New York, present day. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice - elimination by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother's homeland in Europe.
Founded 16 centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety and a ready-made family - at a price. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant Special Forces officer Conrad Tellus, who rescued her in America, isolates her.
Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But, crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it....
©2013 Alison Morton (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
What an original concept this book is! And the narration really put me into the story. Well done and well performed.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one.
Alternate histories can be tricky but this one worked well; the Roman Empire in the modern world was believable and appealing. The EUS is a xenophobic and paranoid place. Given the chance, why would you not up-sticks and move to Roma Nova? This country is just… cool. It’s kept up with and even surpassed the rest of the modern world in some ways while still keeping its traditions and principles. And I can really get behind a story set in a society where the women and men are on equal footing (as Roma Nova is a matriarchal society, the women have an edge though).
The characters are varied and nicely fleshed out. Karen’s adaptation to her new home and its traditions is admirable. Anyone who’s lived in a culture different from their own knows how hard those adjustments can be. Karen didn’t just adapt, she embraced it and you could feel how richer her life was for it. There are so many characters that it was a little hard to keep track of them so a 2nd go with this book is definitely in order for me.
Ms. Thorburn has a very nice and melodic voice. The accents are good and each character has distinctive voice. When she sticks to reading, she’s excellent.
What I didn't like about this book:
1. Karen’s transformation from ordinary office schlep to bad*ss soldier woman is not believable. In one chapter she’s cowering and dying and 90 minutes later she’s mastered hand-to-hand combat and is working undercover… c’mon.
2. Karen comes across as arrogant and obnoxious after her transformation. I really struggled to like her during some parts of the story. Maybe that's a problem with narration and the written would be different?
3. Karen’s reasons for entering into her new (post transformation) career don’t make sense to me. While any reasonable person knows drug smuggling is an awful thing, I just don’t understand her motivation for throwing herself into dangerous under-cover work.
4. Renschman is a pretty bad villain. Not bad as in ‘what a great character; he’s so scary’ but bad as in ‘you’ve failed multiple times; please just give up now ‘. And he’s one of those villains who won’t stop talking (no wonder he’s thwarted so often). But I get his motivation so he’s not totally unbelievable.
5. Some of the sub-plots ended pretty abruptly. I think the author was trying to smoosh too much into the 1st in a series. The way it ended made me wonder if this was originally meant to be a stand-alone book.
6. While I enjoyed the narration, I found the stammering, heavy breathing, gulps, occasional snorts and giggles and general over-emoting very off-putting. This is just a personal preference and it's not bad enough to make me not want to listen to the next in the series.
7. Pronunciation is a bit off sometimes (I’ve never heard ‘antipathy’ pronounced much the same as ’anti-pasti’) but that was more amusing than annoying.
"Intriguing concept, a fast-paced thriller"
I wasn’t too sure how I would get on with this book as I’m not a great fan of fantasy or sci-fi (Amazon’s classifications), but frankly, I wouldn’t class this book as either. Inceptio fell into a genre that was new to me – not time slip, but ‘alternate history’, and I found this fascinating. I read contemporary fiction and I’m quite partial to the odd novel set in ancient Rome too, so this was quite an intriguing concept – and the book didn’t disappoint.
Inceptio is a fast-paced thriller that twists skulduggery in an alternate modern-day America together with the passion and pride of the people of Roma Nova, a notional European country established by breakaway Romans sixteen centuries ago. There was plenty to grab the interest – a complex plot with lots of twists and turns, a heroine who has to defy impossible odds, a strong love interest and some dastardly villains.
I wasn’t convinced by the transformation of a perfectly normal, rather unsuccessful young American girl into a Roma Novan superhero in an amazingly short space of time (although I very much enjoyed it!), and I wasn’t really sure I liked her new persona either, but neither of these points kept me from enjoying the tale. Roma Nova was a curious place, in many ways so modern that its genesis didn’t seem very relevant, though the inhabitants obviously had a real sense of nationhood. I would have liked a stronger sense of the place and its culture, history, food etc – but I loved the idea that it was the women who ruled the country (!) and that it had evolved as a technologically advanced nation.
I was given this audiobook free in return for an honest review – that said, I would not have even started listening to it unless I had liked the narrator, as narration is such an important element for me. Caitlyn Thorburn’s treatment was far from perfect, but overall it made for a really enjoyable listen.
Would I go back for more? You bet!
"Three Cheers! Even better on Audible!"
I read Inceptio soon after it was first published and immediately became hooked on the series (thank goodness it is a series - I think I could become quite bereft without a regular new Roma Nova fix) Books I enjoy I like to re-read, but with fading sight this is becoming a problem - thank goodness for Kindle and the ability to increase the font size, but now hurrah for Audible! No more straining to see the words a relaxing enjoyable experience of listening to some of my favourite characters instead! I admit I was dubious when I first downloaded this one: would narration detract from how I imagined the author's (and tha characters') voice. No! Not in the slightest, in fact the book is now even better (if that's possible!) So three cheers for Audible, Three Cheers for Ms Morton and Three Cheers for Roma Nova!
The realisation that Rome had survived into the 21st century, an amazing, and I think Unique, concept, with unique characters and a unique plot.
All of them!
a wonderful, exciting, read from cover to cover.
"Not bad for a first novel"
Alison Morton’s Inceptio, her first novel, is a coming of age wish fulfillment tale, but don’t hold that against it. There’s a long literary tradition of people waking up to discover they’re a princess. Of course, this is slightly unlikely to happen to anyone, especially someone like me. But it’s the basis of the novel, so I’ll let it ride.
The novel’s set in an alternative reality, which does rather appeal to me. The Roman empire didn’t all die; one small corner has survived into the present. The history intertwined with the story successfully: it’s never imposed, details are only mentioned when relevant. It feels carefully constructed, rather than the more common mish–mash of randomness thrown together to aid the plot. Whether that’s correct, I don’t know, but it’s those lights behind the curtain that make me want to read more.
Unsurprisingly, as a coming of age wish fulfillment novel, the lead character comes of age—except it’s more coming of age ten years after she’s come of age. The heroine changes and grows throughout the novel. She has to work for her progress, and does so, as she develops from victim to oppressor. Having said that, too many things fall into her lap. Perhaps that’s fair enough; this is, after all, a wish–fulfillment novel.
The depth of the characters are not forced on the reader. That’s partially because they have good but not great depth, enough to make them thoroughly believable but insufficient for insight into their foibles. You can read the novel on the surface, and as such it’s a fun romp. Like the alternative history itself, there’s extra weight to the core characterisations to give something to chew on if that’s what you want to do.
There are some subtle touches that I appreciated, such as her heroineness realising that such–and–such aren’t being élitist, they’ve simply done the work and are now rather good at it. In other words, the characterisation works, so that I’m willing to keep exploring the author’s alternative reality in the company of this silver–spooned overachiever, even though she’d be that very irritating type of dinner guest who unknowingly reminds you that you’re deeply inadequate in the secret princess department (ignore me, I’m being English).
The weakness is in the colour of the plot. It’s all there, and it works, and I saw no inconsistencies, but too much plot followed familiar tropes. I fear the author learnt the behaviour of certain iconic professions from bad television. The plot certainly isn’t in Mordor She Rote territory, but I do wonder if the novelist peeped from behind the settee a little too often when such braindeadifiers were transmitted.
There are a couple of places where the author gets things plain wrong. In one case, she has the heroine casually do some computer security stuff on the spot that, at the scale concerned, would take a lot of work and planning to get correct. I suspect the author didn’t check the subject out, but felt something should be said, so said something. She should have either done the research or let the matter lie. Still, this isn’t an uncommon error amongst new novelists, and it does no more than make me raise my eyebrows while still following the story, and anyway she can always say that this alternative history is a little more alternative than I’ve realised.
Inceptio is actually rather impressive for a first novel: the various mistakes and rough edges can be forgiven as the author develops her skills.
I listened to the novel as an audiobook. It was narrated by Caitlin Thorburn, who was fine. She took me on the adventure: I followed the story and characters without problem. The production wasn’t the best, but it was certainly good enough.
I like this novel, despite having no chance of ever being a princess. I’ll grab the next. It’s that underplayed but delicious alternative history that gets me.
"Cliched characters, dialogue & plot"
An original idea and better writing!
I don't think the issue was Caitlin Thorburn. I found her irritating but I suspect this was due to the story simply not being engaging.
boredom, disappointment, irritation
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