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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Medicine in Britain During Roman Occupation!

Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)Medicus by Ruth Downie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deceptively understated writing that follows the daily comings and goings of the title character, a Roman Legionnaire who happens to be a medical doctor in a Brittanica outpost in the far-reaching Roman Empire. He is a solemn man, whose life is totally filled by his job. His more easy going room-mate, the handsome one, Valens is always urging him to live it up a bit and find himself some distractions. Rusa, however, is divorced from the ambitious Claudia, whom he has left behind in Africa and is anxious to rise within the ranks to become CMO of the hospital, a position also sought by Valens.
Rusa is in financial straits, primarily the result of poor money management by his now deceased father and his spend-thrift step mother. He is attempting to write a Concise Medical Handbook that he hopes will also help strengthen his pocketbook. He is, you see, almost to end of the last pay period and his brother and other family are attempting to hang onto the family vineyards in Gaul. He must send them money for their living expenses as well as support himself.
While walking through the streets of Deva on his way back to the hospital, contemplating his position and also the mystery of the suspicious death of a woman pulled from the river and deposited in his infirmary, he comes upon a slave dealer and an almost dead female slave who is bloodied and appears to have a broken arm. Though he tries to avoid becoming involved in the workings of the town and its native inhabitants he finds himself using the last of his money to purchase this slave and take her to the hospital where he sets her arm.
So begins a series of seemingly unrelated events with which he becomes involved, not the least of which is this new unanticipated responsibility, the young blonde slave he calls Tilla.
The short chapters, interesting history of Legion life, the medicine of the times, the interaction between Romans and Britons all keep the story moving until its final revelations, which are not entirely surprising though more complex than expected. This is the first in a series of novels telling the story of Rome and its occupation of Britain. It promises to continue interesting and unusual and worth reading.

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