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Publisher's Summary

The medicus Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are back in the borderlands of Britannia, this time helping to tend the builders of Hadrian's Great Wall. Having been forced to move off their land, the Britons are distinctly on edge. Then Ruso's recently arrived clerk, Candidus, goes missing. A native boy thinks he sees a body being hidden inside the wall's half-finished stonework, and a worrying rumor begins to spread. When soldiers ransack the nearby farms looking for Candidus, Tilla's tentative friendship with a local family turns to anger and disappointment. Tensions only increase when Branan, the family's youngest son, also vanishes. As Ruso and Tilla try to solve the mystery of the two disappearances - while at the same time struggling to keep the peace between the Britons and the Romans - an intricate scheme involving slavery, changed identities, and fur trappers emerges, and it becomes imperative that Ruso find Branan before it's too late.

©2014 Ruth Downie (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Like the other titles in the series, Downie's latest mixes an engaging story line, provocative characters, and a satisfying evocation of time and place." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 09-17-16

A Pleasure to Read

This is book six in the Gaius Ruso series. This historical fiction series is best if it is read in order.

Ruso is a medical officer in the Roman Legion stationed in Briton. He married a native Briton, Tila. In this story Ruso and Tila are caught in a conflict between the Romans and Britons. There is a rumor a body is buried in the Hadrian’s Wall. Ruso’s medical clerk is missing. A Briton boy is missing and the family is related to Tila. With the Britons teetering on the edge of rebellion, Ruso and Tila attempt to discover who took the boy.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The plot spirals and bends enough to keep the reader’s attention. Downie continues to develop the key characters. Russo’s relationship with Tila matures. Russo evolves with each installment rather than remaining a static character. I appreciate Downie’s attention to detail both historical and human. I also enjoyed the dry British humor.

Simon Vance does a superb job narrating the book. Vance is a stage, film and TV actor who is also an award winning audiobook narrator. I always enjoy a book narrated by Vance.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Not my favorite book in the series

I have really enjoyed this series, but this one lacked the medical aspect that in enjoy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Love Downie as usual, but ANGRY with Vance

What did you love best about Tabula Rasa?

Ruth Downie hasn't lost her touch.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I've loved the entire series, but for some reason Simon Vance apparently decided not to review what his character voices sounded like before doing this book. 2/3 of the way through the book, Albanus (a recurring character in all of the books) shows up and suddenly has a heavy accent?! It is the most distracting thing I've ever heard, and I actually stopped listening to write this complaint. Albanus is one of my favorite characters, and I've been waiting most of the book for him to arrive, and now I just want to throw something every time he talks. Seriously, Simon Vance is generally better than this, and I don't understand it. Even the minor characters that have only shown up once or twice before are correct to their original renditions, but Albanus, a major character, is so far off as to be unrecognizable. Why, Simon? Why?!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • Dedham, MA, United States
  • 08-28-14

Great historical mystery with wonderful dry humor

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The time period is not commonplace and the characters are charming.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Tabula Rasa?

An unfortunate surgery.

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

Ruso

Who was the most memorable character of Tabula Rasa and why?

I always look forward to what Ruso and Tilla are up to.

Any additional comments?

Lovely mystery, characters and dry humor.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A new entry in this wonderful series at last!

Any additional comments?

When I read the first in this series, "Medicus," I just had to binge on all the rest of the Russo and Tilla books in a row. Creating wonderful characters and carefully researched settings, Ruth Downie combines mystery with history in a most satisfying and entertaining way. The clash of ancient Celtic and Roman cultures provides a background to her stories that I find endlessly fascinating, and this was no exception. Always beautifully read by Simon Vance - Only bummer is waiting for the next installment. Loved it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The best one yet.

Tabula Rasa translates to “clean slate”… Well folks here we are another terrific tale in the Medicus series. I’ve said it before catching up with Tilla and Ruso is always a joy. But I have to say right out this offering is my favorite so far. By now I feel I really know them. Where they are as a couple and where they want to be. As always Ruth Downie writes with great humor and warmth, she conveys the difficulties dealing with each other’s cultures so believably. I recommend this book without reservation.
While stationed to one if the forts during the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. Tilla has found a family of sorts, something she’s longed for, and which is a nightmare for Ruso, whose time away from his own family is just the way he likes it. I especially love the details of the building of the wall. No novel set in England can be written without the weather becoming a character. Downie make you feel the misery of what living in one of these camps during late fall must have been like. How the men and their followers must have longed to leave and go back to winter quarters, and to civilization, or what passed for civilization to the Romans in Britain. To exacerbate the situation Ruso secretary has gone missing, and a young Briton with ties to Tilla also goes missing and so Ruso is ordered to find out what happened to the boy, by his commander. They don’t need the locals up in arms any more than they already are, now do they? As always it’s great fun to watch the mystery play out, many characters from past books are present and add to the fun.
Plus I could listen to Simon Vance read a phone book, he is perfection as usual.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Another Great Entry in the Series

I have been listening to this series for the last two years, and I can't wait for the next edition. These books are not intellectually deep, though the author obviously takes care to include accurate historical details about the era. The premises of this story is that the main character, a doctor in the Roman army, and his British native wife solve various murder mysteries. This book continues that trend--a new location and a new murder mystery. I do not generally like the mystery genre, so I can't comment whether this is a quality mystery novel--I was drawn to these books by the Roman connection. What I can comment on is that these books are highly entertaining and relatively fast-paced making an overall great read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I loved this series!

Who would have thought that the life of a medicus in the Roman army could be so entertaining. But it has been due to such fine writing and completely perfect narration. A truly beautiful marriage 😊
I look forward to the next book with great anticipation as I have grown very fond of the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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pretty good

I really enjoy this series and have listened to every book. SImon Vance is one of the very best narrators there is. So, it's hard to understand why he suddenly gave the recurring character Albanus some type of unidentifiable accent in this book. As A follower of this series, this was distracting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Warren
  • Cary, NC, United States
  • 09-02-14

perfectum fabula

Would you consider the audio edition of Tabula Rasa to be better than the print version?

Never read a print version

What was one of the most memorable moments of Tabula Rasa?

Search for 15 year old boy by Russo

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

On par

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The tri death ceremony

Any additional comments?

Perfect story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Adrian
  • 03-24-17

Throughly enjoyable

I cannot recommend this audio book highly enough. I am a big fan of Ruth Downie and her Ruso series. Thrilled to get this on audio. Thank you Ruth Downie for writing it and Audible for making it available on audio.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dene.F.
  • 03-06-17

Great but.....

This is only relevant for those that have listened to the previous books in this series.
I have given the performance an average mark of 3 stars instead of the probable 4 stars it deserved because 1 small thing that really peeved me greatly.
A character that only had a small part in this book but has been in previous books also completely changed in voice and attitude. He went from a middle class insipid southerner to a voice of indeterminate local with a more aggressive edge of nature.
How can this happen in a series? My problem I know but Ridiculas none the less.
Aside of that I enjoyed it greatly and am sad I only have one book left to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 10-26-16

Good story but narration below par

Simon Vance wasn't on form for this book. It was like a long running radio drama (e.g. The Archers) with new actors in crucial parts, without efforts towards continuity- Brian Aldridge turns Australian overnight or Joe Grundy becomes Norwegian!- Albanus in particular seems to have developed an accent which could be considered of lower status than in previous books. Tilla too sounds different and overall I feel there's less subtlety in vocal characterisation.
The story is interesting, and having recently repeated that journey "over the top" home out of England I can appreciate the bleak conditions exper

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • claire dee
  • 03-23-17

disappointed with with the accent change!

I have enjoyed the accents and characters so far but was unhappy Albanus became German!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful