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Terra Incognita: A Novel of the Roman Empire | [Ruth Downie]

Terra Incognita: A Novel of the Roman Empire

The edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Gaius Petreius Ruso's slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle there: Her tribespeople, under the leadership of the mysterious Stag Man, are fomenting a rebellion, and her former lover is implicated in the murder of a soldier. Ruso, once again pulled into a murder investigation, is appalled to find that Tilla is still spending time with the prime suspect.
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Publisher's Summary

It is spring in the year 118, and Hadrian has been emperor of Rome for less than a year. After his long and reluctant investigation of the murders of a handful of local prostitutes, Gaius Petreius Ruso needs to get out of town. With that in mind, he has volunteered for a posting with the army in the far reaches of Britannia - a calmer place for a tired man.

But the edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the independent tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Ruso's slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle there: Her tribespeople, under the leadership of the mysterious Stag Man, are fomenting a rebellion against Roman control, and her former lover is implicated in the grisly murder of a soldier. Ruso, once again unwillingly pulled into a murder investigation, is appalled to find that Tilla is still spending time with the prime suspect. Worse, he is honor-bound to try to prove the man innocent - and the army wrong - by finding another culprit. Soon both Ruso's and Tilla's lives are in jeopardy, as is the future of their burgeoning romance.

Terra Incognita shines light on a remote corner of the ancient world, where Ruso's luck is running short - again.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears: listen to the first book, Medicus.

©2008 Ruth Downie; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A lively sequel to English author Downie's historical mystery Medicus....Immensely satisfying." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Who would guess that life and death in the far reaches of the Roman Empire could be so darn funny?" (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (441 )
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4.5 (244 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michelle Los Alamos, United States Minor Outlying Islands 06-03-08
    Michelle Los Alamos, United States Minor Outlying Islands 06-03-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Roman Britain discovered"

    I am a great fan of the mystery novels of Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor and John Maddox Roberts, all set in pre 453 AD Rome. It was happenstance to discover the first volume, Medicus, in Ruth Downie's new series about a military physician in Roman Britain at the beginning of Hadrian's rule. Our hero is a provincial, not a "city of Rome" plebeian or patrician. He comes with a set of personal problems, family and financial, that form a back drop to his motives and actions and shape his character as a reluctant hero. Terra Incognita is the second volume. Not quite as interesting as the first, it, nevertheless, develops the story line in a happy, somewhat predictable, and amusing fashion. There is intriguing detail about the customs of the British tribes and the Roman occupiers of this misty isle. It is increasingly easy to imagine our physician staying in Britain after the legions withdraw, a distant ancestor of, perhaps, a noble Saxon family. I look forward to future adventures of the medicus and his housekeeper. Good work Ms Downie.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucy Austin, TX, USA 05-10-08
    Lucy Austin, TX, USA 05-10-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Great book, fabulous reader"

    I listen to books at night after I turn off the light, and I try to find verbose tales with loose plots that will put me to sleep after about 30 minutes. The next night I rewind the iPod to find the spot where I fell asleep. Unfortunately, Terra Incognita didn't meet my needs because I couldn't fall asleep while listening to it and I kept restarting the timer on the iPod to the point that I was listening two hours at a time. Don't buy this book if you want to lull yourself to sleep. Also, the reader is so terrific that for the first time ever I searched for books read by him just to hear his voice again. He's one of the elite few whose women's voices are distinct without being fake. The man should be given a Oscar!

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-23-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-23-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "A step back in time"

    It is interesting learning what life was like in Britain under the Roman rule. I also find it interesting to learn more about the state of medicine at this time. Gee, the English loved their beer/mead then also. Russo and Tila have gone to a northern out post temporary with the tenth. This is Tila's home area and we learn more about what happened to her family and to her when captured by raiding clan. Simon Vance does an excellent job with the narration. Enjoy a good story and learn some facts about the past in a most delightful way.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 06-05-08
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 06-05-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Huge Fun"

    A fun listen. Good plot, good characters and an excellent narrator, Simon Vance. The historical aspects are quite interesting. Ruso gives a "Roman" perspective on the occupation of Britain in ancient times. I look forward to more books about Ruso and Tilla.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lehua Volcano, HI, USA 05-14-09
    Lehua Volcano, HI, USA 05-14-09 Member Since 2002
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    "Textured, absorbing, scary, funny"

    This adventure was even better than the last. Downie offers multiple points of view and all are interesting. Tilla continues to be one of the funniest characters going, and their relationship is priceless. Wonderful in every way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aryn Pullman, WA; United States 04-20-08
    Aryn Pullman, WA; United States 04-20-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Another winner"

    The book is entertaining, well-written and well-researched without being stuffy. Has it all: adventure, mystery, complicated relationships and strikes a great balance with all of it. The reader also strikes the right balances with speed and cadence. Definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good story and a little history.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 05-17-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 05-17-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

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    "Frustrating Lead Character. A Good Thing?"

    Warning… listen first to "Medicus" the lead off book in this tale of legion doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso's tale of Roman times. Ruso's a frustratingly dumb guy while his slave and love interest Tilla is a smart blonde. And each of them are kind of encased in the frustrations of their culture which create frustrations which we can see from our perspective as outsiders looking in.

    Ruth Downie is VERY clever in making her setting a part of the ensemble cast of her books and its mysteries. My own frustrations with Dr. Ruso's ineptness of course is planned to increase the tensions in Terra Incognita. And after all, without tension, there's really no plot, right?

    For some reason we are more likely to believe that characters are really ancient Romans if the reader is British, and Simon Vance provides that filter well. In all, this is a believable trip to another place/time peopled with intriguing characters. I'll probably listen to another in the series. But, remember my warning…. Read "Medicus" first, I liked it more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Marietta, GA, United States 11-13-13
    Susan Marietta, GA, United States 11-13-13 Member Since 2010

    I've become an avid "reader" since I discovered audiobooks a few years ago. Also a cat lover - at left is Prince Harold

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    "Love these Medicus books"

    A murder-mystery in ancient Rome, or at least an outpost of it. Love the characters, the story, and the attention to detail of life 2000 years ago in the Roman army and its interactions with the "natives." Great read. Re the performance, the accents of the Romans are more proper and erudite vs the accents of the natives of Britannia (Northern Britain, Scotland,) which are reminiscent of today's accents from those places, even though it's all in current-day English.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 03-16-13
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 03-16-13 Member Since 2001

    BJS

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    "Great historical novel of Rome"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Very much so. If you have listened to or read the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts and enjoyed you will enjoy this as well. This is more centered around a Roman Doctor Russo who was stationed in Briton. Ends up solving crimes for the empire. He also marries a "Barbarian" Briton woman, but she's really the best thing in his life and he knows it. You have to read this series in order just like any other series or it will not make sense.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I really love both Russo and his wife Tilla. In many ways she makes Russo more earthy and realize what is really important.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators, when I'm looking at a new book I see who's narrating and since he's in my top ten I usually will take great interest in purchasing. He brings emotions and each character to life.


    Any additional comments?

    I think Ruth Downie is has done very well in this series and her research about Rome in
    Briton is also very good. If you want to read great novels by great authors on the Roman Empire the three top are Robert Graves, John Maddox Roberts and Ruth Downie. They all have separate areas in their books but all are well researched with time lines and what was happening. I have most of the books by all three authors. I guess that is a major hint that I love historical novels

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Illinois USA 03-20-12
    Amazon Customer Illinois USA 03-20-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Good sequel -- excellent narration"
    If you could sum up Terra Incognita in three words, what would they be?

    decent sequel


    What about Simon Vance???s performance did you like?

    Simon Vance is an excellent narrator. His voices for each of the characters are pitch perfect--not too over the top but unique so that you know throughout the book who is speaking. I love his narration of these Ruth Downie books and it's why I intend to listen to all of them in order.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. Ruso and Tilla make an excellent romantic duo, but they are not together much in this book. Instead, Tilla is off doing her own thing. I found that a bit disappointing since the beauty of the earlier book was the romantic tension between the two.

    This book has some moments where I felt Ruso was out of character. He questions a suspect to a murder by dunking the man's head in a barrel of water. Ruso it seems to me is supposed to be the hero of the story and better than that--he's a doctor and will not beat his slave when they disobey him. Aside from that this is an interesting murder mystery and the characters are believeable.


    Any additional comments?

    I look forward to Persona Non Grata, the next book in the series. I'm very glad Simon Vance is narrating all four.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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