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.