Monday, March 20, 2017
Posted by JaneGS
Medicus, by Ruth Downie, was a thorough treat. Part of my Reading Northumberland project, Medicus is the first in a mystery series featuring Roman army doctor Gaius Petrius Ruso, serving in Britannia in the mid-second century. It takes place in Deva (aka modern Chester) shortly after Trajan's death and just before Hadrian's visit, during which he orders the building of his wall.
I did start to read this novel a few years ago and stopped reading only a quarter of the way into it when I got interested in another topic. I'm so glad that I revisited the book as I prep for my Hadrian's Wall Path hike this July, as it was so much fun to read.
I enjoyed the central character, Ruso, who is well-meaning but plagued with problems as his good intentions get in the way of career advancement, familial obligations, and medical integrity. I enjoyed reading about his life on the Roman frontier, his roommate and medical colleague, the charming Valens, and his adjustment to his move from his last posting in Africa to the very different town in Britain. Downie provided a good bit about the remnants of the Druid religion, and I liked visiting the villages of the Britons. She did a good job of showing both sides of the story--the Roman occupiers and the Britons, some who resist and some who assimilate.
The mystery was interesting too--involving slaves, prostitution, graft, murder, and love. What more do you need for a thumping good mystery? Oh, yes, good writing and great dialogue--Downie provided both.
I definitely plan to read more in the series for fun and knowledge as I prep for my trek.