Friday, July 11, 2014

Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie

I loved the immersion into Roman Britain Ruth Downie provided again with "Semper Fidelis." The protagonist once again is Gaius Petreius Ruso, or Ruso; with his wife Tilla playing another strong role. Ms. Downie does a wonderful job of painting life in Roman Britain and Semper Fidelis is no exception. Her portrayal of Ruso, the Emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina, Tilla, Geminus a Centurion, and the rest of the cast were all well developed and real. The mystery surrounding deaths of recruits and a cursed legion proved far too much for Ruso's curiosity to ignore. Leaving his duties as supervising doctor he began questioning the circumstances of death and disappearance. Along the way his wife Tilla discovers information pertinent to the plot endangering her life. Ruso faces jailing, torture, loss of social status, and the loss of his wife in this well written mystery. In a subtle hint the story ends in what I believe to be a wonderful surprise for both Tilla and Ruso.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch

I'm roughly 100 pages shy of finishing the second book in the Hangmans Daughter series by Oliver Potzsch and  I have to admit I am struggling. Although I enjoy the history and description of German life during the period the book drags on towards  the end leaving me struggling to finish. 

Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie

I finished Ruth Downie's fourth book in her Roman series, "Caveat Emptor," some time ago. It was once again a great story. I love the history and honest view of the reality of Roman Britain. Ruso's turn as an investigator put him in several sticky situations. Particularly given his penchant for strong ethical decision making. Ruso and Tilla as newlyweds made for interesting circumstances effecting the investigation and Tilla's status amongst the Roman bureaucracy. The most  serious being Tilla's name on Mettelus the spy's list of potential lawbreakers. 

Ruso's turn as investigator, hunting the missing money from Verulanium and the suspected thieves leads him on and adventure frought with danger, intrigue, and local history.

Simon Vance again provided a brilliant reading, keeping me involved from the get go. I recommend this and all the Ruso series by Ruth Downie to any lover of historical fiction.   

Friday, April 4, 2014

Persona Non Grata by Ruth Downie

I listened to Ruth Downie's "Persona Non Grata" by Ruth Downie and read by Simon Vance. As usual Ms. Downie brings a wonderful description of life in imperial Rome, this time in Ruso's home in Gaul. Ruso, the unwitting protagonist of Ruth Downie's Roman murder history series, decides it is a good time to take leave from the 20th Legion in Britain and brings Tilla, the native he saved in the first book, to his home in Gaul. Ruso received a letter requesting his urgent return and arrives to a house deep in family debts and not expecting his return. The confusion becomes mystery when Ruso works a deal to stave off legal action on the family debts with the main creditor just minutes before the creditor drops dead in Ruso's home. Ruso's brother, step-mother, and step-sisters all cause Ruso irritation and seem to get in the way of his efforts to solve the murder and keep the family name clear. Once again the characters, physical description, and Ruso's inner monologue are all delivered with the wonderful and detailed method that Ruth Downie delivers every time. Simon Vance did a wonderful job reading each character and delivering unique tone and depth to each. Overall the audio version of Persona Non Grata was wonderful and worth the listen.

March Reading Delay

I had some major surgery putting a slow down on hobbies a few weeks ago. I did, however, listen to a couple more audio books. Going to post a good summary on each. While rehabing I am reading another Oliver Potzsch book in the Hangman's Daughter series and unfortunately watching a lot of really bad daytime TV.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch was a wondrful look at life in small town Bavaria during the 17th century. The main character, a hangman descended from a line of hangmen named Jakob Kuisl, is kind hearted, common sensed, and hard working. He is intelligent and views his profession with a sense of realism. He privately struggles with the demons of his trade by drinking heavily in private. When he isn't torturing a suspected criminal for a confession or executing the convicted he is a healer of sorts creating potions and medicines cheaper than the town doctor. 

Jakob works with the son of the town doctor, Simon, a school educate doctor (albeit not graduated) unlike his father who never went to university to study medicine. The pair work together to solve the murder of children and prove the local midwife is falsely accused of both the murders and of wichcraft.

The title of the book comes from Jakob's daughter, Magdalena, who is a midwife in training but is stubborn like her father. She and Simon have an unapproved, discouraged, courtship as hangmen families are pariah. Much like her father Magdalena views the world in a practical sense and doesn't get caught up in hysteria. She provides the bridge between the two heroes and aids when she can.

In the end the Magdalena is abducted by the villain to force Jakob to find answers. The tale spins around old views, class struggles, and a town living more in the past than moving to the future. The town elders want a witches confession retrieved by the hangman before the Count's secretary arrives and the hangman isfighting against time to learn the truth.   

While many people found parts of the book tedious and some of the language out of place I lovedthe immersion into Bavarian culture of the time wonderful. Onto The Dark Monk, thenext book in the Series!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie

Ruth Downie once again lead me on a wonderful trip through Roman Britain. Her description of life during this era is simply wonderful. The main character, Ruso, volunteers to join an expidition north towards the eventual line of a finished Hadrian's Wall and again finds himself looking into another odd murder. Along the way his housekeeper, a native he calls Tilla, rediscovers her native people and an old lover. Ruso, Tilla, and a host of Romans and Britains all spin in circles either looking for or trying to hide the truth of the murder. Meanwhile Tilla's rediscovery of her people, her childhood home, and her less than scrupulous uncle  cause mixed feelings and come between Tilla and Ruso. Murder, marriage, and a clash of cultures continue in this wonderful story by an outstanding author.