Monday, March 20, 2017


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.


  1. A mystery series set in the Roman Empire sounds quite good. Interesting. I hadn't heard of this one. thanks.

  2. This has been on my reading list comma after a friend recommended the series. I need to put it back on my library list.

  3. The premise of this book sounds different and original. I would like to give it a try.

    I also have returned to novels that I had previously abandoned. Sometimes it is well worth doing.

  4. Hi jane, sorry, I accidentally deleted your comment -I've replied on my blog, Sue.

  5. Ooh, I am jealous that you'll get to hike along Hadrian's Wall! I hope you'll share your experiences with us.

    This does sound like a great way to prepare for that, or for armchair traveling. It could be an interesting complement to Rosemary Sutcliff's The mark of the Horse Lord, another book set in Roman Britain.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Lory. I have a number of Rosemary Sutcliff's book on my TBR before the trip, but not this one. I just read up on it in Amazon, and it sounds great.

    2. I'm sure she has a number of other relevant titles too, but I haven't read a lot of her work yet - though I definitely want to.