Sunday, January 26, 2014

Medicus by Ruth Downie

This book was fantastic! Medicus, by Ruth Downie, is the first in series of books about Roman life in Britannia. In particular life among Roman Legions as they work to secure the remote province. The main character, Gaius Petreius Ruso, is a doctor recently transferred to Deva (what is now Chester, England) assigned to the 20th Legion hospital. He brings with him the baggage of an ex-wife and the debt of father. With his family in Gaul owing money on the farm his father left to them he volunteers with the intent to send earnings back to his brother to save the family farm. Ruso settles into a meager life of attending patients and living with old friend Valens, another doctor assigned to the Legion. But it isn't long before Ruso's curiosity gets the best of him and he intervenes on behalf of a slave, ultimately buying her with the intent of treating her and selling her. He names her Tilla and rehabs her broken arm and eventually finds he has no desire to sell her. However, she proves more trouble than a simple slave and soon the Medicus is poking his nose into the disappearance of other slave girls from a local bar owned by Merula. From there the story introduces the reader to life in Roman Britannia, the less than wholesome life of a slave of Rome, and the corruption of Roman officials. Ms. Downie weaves a wonderful story including references of history and development of character that capture the imagination.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Current Readings and Goals

Right now I am reading Business and Society, 14th edition, by Anne T. Lawrence and James Weber for my coursework with Liberty University (BMAL 560, Corporate Responsibility). For personal reading I am lost Ruth Downie's Medicus, A Novel of the Roman Empire, and am impressed and addicted to her story telling and descriptions of Roman Britain. My goal is to post at least twice a month and read two books per month not including academic works. I have more than enough books on my iPad and hard copy to keep me busy for some time and I am looking forward to the challenge.

The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski

I wrapped up The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski a couple weeks ago. It's another Payne and Jones action on the trail of history and treasure story. This one centers on the possibility of the existence of Ludwig II, the Swan King, and his hidden treasure. Some of which may be property of foreign nations. Most of the action in the book takes place in Bavaria, with references and wonderful descriptions of Schloss Neuschwanstein, Schloss Linderhof, and several other castles and buildings ordered built by Ludwig. The story starts off fun enough with Payne and Jones asked to look at a bunker discovered by old friend Kaiser, a prior service supply soldier stationed in Europe who know ran an underground supply exchange across the globe from Germany, that contained gold and art long since lost to World War II. An eager foot soldier for Kaiser's main rival notices the commotion in the forest by the bunker and sees this as an opportunity to move up in his organization. Unfortunately for him Payne and Jones react well to adversity. Unfortunately for the story this is where the violence seemed to occur for the sake of violence. Kaiser's main rival Mueller, and his organization learn Kaiser was present for the commotion along with Petr Ulster from the Ulster Archives. Interest piqued but without really knowing what Kaiser found Mueller has his men chase Payne and Jones to the Linderhof palace. Payne and Jones can still handle themselves even with their backs to the wall so the confrontation at the Linderhof Palace doesn't really last long. Ultimately Payne, Jones, Petr Ulster, and a woman called Heidi (who in typical fashion is attractive and flirtatious with Payne) they met at the King's House on Schachen, eventually follow the clues found to a jeweler in Munich who'd been taught to wait for someone to show up with the right information so he could pass on the crown made for Ludwig II. Payne and Jones enlist another old friend, Nick Dial from Interpol, to help clean up the trail of bloodshed before wrapping the action up. All in all it was a fun quick read with the typical action and predictable banter. However the banter at times seemed too generic and contrived and the violence seemed needless. This book seemed more of a springboard into stories featuring Kaiser and Mueller. Not the best Payne and Jones but still a fun read.