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Thursday, July 28, 2016

How Did Felix Lose His Head? Gaius and Tilla Investigate in Terra Incognita( Known to Tilla, However!)

Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaius Petreus Ruso, Medicus to the 20th and his slave, Tilla find themselves in the far reaches of the Roman Empire--up near Hadrian's Wall in Brittanica. It is the homeland of Tilla and she has returned after many years --several spent as the slave to a neighboring warlord who kidnapped her and the last year or so as Gaius' slave. The wives of Tresla, who first enslaved her, were jealous and sold her to an intinerant peddler who, in book 1, gladly sold off this outspoken woman who could not seem to conduct herself with the proper subservient demeanor.
Now, back home, where she is not allowed into the fort where Gaius is serving as temporary relief to the present medicus or doctor, Tilla reconnects with her remaining family and neighbors of her youth. She and Gaius have arrived just as the Romans are in the throes of determining who killed Felix, the trumpeter. The resident doctor has confessed but he seems to be out of his mind--talking about his triangles that don't meet and the fish he requires to wrap round his head. Gaius is required to perform the autopsy on a corpse which is mysteriously missing its head--which cannot be found.
As if these aren't plots enough, we find that a barbarian god in the form of a Stag has caused a wagon accident that injured many and killed a carpenter whose wife Tilla has just delivered of a newborn girl. Who is this Stag Man who rides into the community but vanishes like the air and what is his purpose.
Lastly, will Tilla marry Gaius eventually--he has asked but she has refused. He is relieved to not have been accepted and is glad he did not need to withdraw the offer since these barbarians require a payment of five cows for a negated proposal. Gaius does not have the cows nor the wherewithal to purchase them. It seems Felix may have lost his head under just the same circumstances. Gaius' pal Valens, who appears on the scene trying to escape the Second Spear, father to his girlfriend finds that it is better to just marry her and be done with it, when she appears in his wake.
All is solved in the end, though, as usual, Gaius' contributions are neither recognized nor rewarded by his superiors. Indeed, others, again as usual, take credit for his work. So, with murder solved, all other problems put to rest, Gaius and Tilla again head south to Deva,where he will take Valens place as medicus.
On to Book 3 to see how our Roman medical officer and his native housekeeper, slave and lover fare on their return.

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