Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata is the third book in Ruth Downie's Medicus series, after Medicus and Terra Incognita (links go to my reviews).

In this installment, Ruso, a medic in the Roman army, heads home to Gaul in response to a letter from his family, with his "barbarian" lover Tilla in tow. Once home, he finds out that no one really wants him there. Things go from bad to worse, as they always seem to do around Ruso, when the creditor he's trying to negotiate with is murdered in Ruso's home. Further complications arise: Tilla gets caught up with the wrong crowd (aka Christians), Ruso's half-sister falls in love with a gladiator, and his stepmother keeps trying to fix him up with their wealthy neighbor.

I loved the first one and liked the second one, but thought it had lost a bit of its luster. Now with the third book, I was a little bored. It took me a while to get through it, as I kept losing interest (partly due to my own lack of interest in reading in general, I'll admit). For starters, I felt more annoyed by Ruso and Tilla's exploits than intrigued. Ruso is so hapless, it was hard to root for him. And, out of her element, Tilla seemed a little shrewish, not the feisty heroine from the first two books. There were also many, many secondary characters to keep track of. In the midst of this, the mystery seemed to get lost.

Other readers, especially those in a better reading mood than I, may disagree. I still highly recommend the first book and think there was a lot to like in this one (the setting, in particular). I just expected something more.

Buy Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie on Amazon.

I did really like this slideshow on the author's website of some of the real places in this book.

Note: I received Persona Non Grata from LibraryThings' Early Reviewer program.

1 comment:

  1. I think I might try the first book first, they sound interesting to me,thanks for sharing.


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