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Medicus

A Novel of the Roman Empire
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Series: The Roman Empire, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (238 ratings)

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Summary

Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on-his-luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. His arrival in Deva (more commonly known today as Chester, England) does little to improve his mood, and after a 36-hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner.

Now he has a new problem: a slave who won't talk and can't cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar.

A few years earlier, after he rescued Emperor Trajan from an earthquake in Antioch, Ruso seemed headed for glory: now he's living among heathens in a vermin-infested bachelor pad and must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.

Who are the true barbarians, the conquered or the conquerors? It's up to Ruso (certainly the most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire) to discover the truth. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own.

©2007 Ruth Downie (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic reviews

"Downie's auspicious debut sparkles with beguiling characters and a vividly imagined evocation of a hazy frontier." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of Alexander McCall Smith will delight in this series debut set in Roman-occupied Britain and featuring wry army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso." (Booklist)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I'm hoping a successor to Falco!

I've been a Falco fan since I first heard the dramatisations of the earlier books on Radio 4 with Anton Lesser (available on Audible, like the whole book versions with a number of narrators of varying quality!). So I've heard them all, and have been looking for another series of historical mysteries especially in Roman Empire times. I don't want just wars, armies and blokes being macho. So some series have been returned to sender!
I don't want Latin chick lit, just some continuing characters I might like or hate.
Ruso seems to fit the bill, so far, and Simon Vance reads well, with a rather neutral English accent which is easy to listen to, but has developed a recognisable accent for the British characters- - sort of mild Ulster or Ulster-Scots diffentiates locals from invaders.
The English hadn't arrived yet!!
Simon Vance has however developed some American pronunciations which come across like an obscenity in a sermon - unexpected wrong notes, like privacy- just a clunk in an otherwise good performance. There does seem to be a tendency for writers of European origin writing about European events to adopt US English, no doubt hoping for bigger sales, Martin Walker's Bruno novels being a prime example, but diversity of language is part of literature!

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting and informative

I am a glutton for a whodunnit! I found that I could put it down but as I listen to them to get to sleep (blocking out all other thoughts) I did keep rewinding. I found the characters well performed and enjoyed it so much that I have downloaded the second novel for my holiday. Appparently, according to reviews, it is even better.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Too long, not humorous enough, gormless hero

As above. Might be ok if half the length and not such a clueless hero.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Held my attention from the beginning

The narrator used a range of distinguishable voices to help keep the story clear and flowing. This is a good story enhanced by the telling

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent in all respects

I would recommend this audio story to anyone. I have read all of the Ruso series. This is the first one. The storyline of all of this series is excellent and the characters and the relationship between them so ver believable. The humor is subtle but there and well done

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Entertaining

Not long into this I remembered that I’d already read the book some years ago and not liked it. Listening to it now, I can’t remember why. It’s a well-plotted and entertaining crime novel. It’s clearly well researched but wears it lightly. Good fun.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good character descriptions, interesting environment, sad and humorous.

I found this to be an entertaining story with characters that formed in my mind easily. The observations of their human flaws was at times quite amusing. It is I think a type of historical detective novel given that the main character solves a murder mystery. Set at the time of the Roman occupation of Britain the author has painted a very believable picture of every day life for the local people and their Roman overlords. A clash of cultures which again is amusing but this is also a story that contains brutality, poverty and the dark hand of fate. I liked the main character who can’t help but do the right thing even though he knows it is not in his own interest to do so. The readers voice completely matched the main character for me and the reading was smoothly done . I would like to hear what happens next for the characters in this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An entertaining story of Roman occupied Chester

Crime stories aren't usually my thing but this very enjoyable novel kept me entertained and finding reasons to keep listening. Interesting story, lovely characterisation, gentle humour, although the story doesn't shy away from the human misery that is slavery, trafficking and enforced sex work which the author's afterword reminds us is still very much a part of the modern world. As I said, crime stories aren't my thing...but my next credit will be spent on Medicus Book 2

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fantastically narrates, slow story

It’s one of the best narrators I have heard in a long time. But I find the story a bit slow going. It’s the daily life of a Roman medic basically but nothing too exciting. I will buy the 2nd book though, it’s quite enjoyable as an audio book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Enter Ruso and Tilla

The strongest part of the book is the relationship between Ruso and Tilla though the ending is obvious from early on. It is an enjoyable romp, the crime is obvious and so are the criminals. I read the book when it was first published and the read is better than the listen.