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[The author is known] This is the third of Ruth Downie's books, and it has maintained the same high standard. These are fun reading or listening as the case may be and I have all three on my mp3 player. I am awaiting the next installment. If you are a history, historical fiction or love things Roman, it is a great series, written with whit and a bit of irony.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
As a fan of Lindsey Davis and Stephen Saylor, I am thrilled to have found Ruth Downie. In her third book featuring Roman medicus during the reign of Hadrian, she takes it to the next level. The first two books were enjoyable, but this volume is in an entirely different league. The change of setting from Roman Britain to Transalpine Gaul (modern Provence), takes Ruso into the bosom of his very dysfunctional family (who had been alluded to in previous books). While it's possible to read this book as a stand-alone, I would highly recommend reading the books in order in order to appreciate the characters' histories and development. I have a background in Classical History, and while I won't pretend there aren't some anachronistic elements, I was impressed by how much research Ms. Downie must have done to recreate the period. Unlike the more free-thinking Falco of Lindsey Davis's books, Ruso seems more a product of his era and culture.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is a story that is slow to build. Ruso and Tilla return to his family home. A letter and a broken foot sends Ruso into the stifling summer heat of the South of France and his family. He and Tilla face his rackety family, the family's intractable debt problem, the heat of summer, and the hostility of the locals. Ruso feels obliged to sort it all out. Tilla's problems include Ruso's family and the mysteries of Roman customs.
All will be well, but not without a lot of luck and hard work. On the way the readers learn much about the life of Romans at work and play in the South of France. Simon Vance tells a good tale and, although this was my first audio tale of Ruso, I am sure I shall listen to more of the Medicus and Tilla.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a very interesting story, giving a great insight into ordenary life in the Roman Empire, coupled with a compelling mystery, expertly read.
I was very disappointed in this addition to the series.
Ruth Downie squanders the previous quirkiness of the characters and their relationships; Ruso, Tilla and Valens.
Ruso and Tilla go from quirkily mismatched to frustratingly uncommunicative; and it doesn't work. Tilla is forever being tricked into foolishness, sneaking away, behaving like a naive idiot (uncharacteristically - even given the new location); things between Ruso and Tilla are forever being "misunderstood"; mainly because Ruso is busy with his internal dialogue and Tilla is consumed with doubt about her status. Her spunk has been stripped away to be replaced with a sort of dumb petulance. My god I was wishing someone would clip all the players over the head; and not wishing in a good way.
All the characters are unlikable, and willfully stupid; it seems that's the main contrivance to drive the plot.
Ruso spends the book fixated on his inner dialogue; mulling over ALL the possible outcomes via endless internal questioning; while at the same time missing key conversations because he has stopped listening ... then the conversations either prove pivotal, and he missed it; or have to be repeated when Ruso "realises he's been asked a question but wasn't listening".
The rehashing, and the repeating of relationship interactions (how many times do we have to have the conversation, internal and external, with his step mother going over the same attitudes; or with his brother?).
Simon Vance's narration, so good previously, doesn't help.
Vance has radically changed his approach. Tilla, Ruso and Valens are all different voices; as is the "Narrator". The style was so different, and poorer, I had to check the other book I have to see if was the same reader.
Sadly the basic plot could have done without all this squandered opportunity. It didn't need padding, nor contrivances. It would work without them.
It was frustratingly tedious. I persevered for about half the book then jumped to the last hour to get the ending.
I hope the next installment gets back to value. I'll have a listen and see.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful