It was hard for me to slough off the behemoth carcass of Fall of Giants after devouring it last month, which is why it has taken so long for me to digest a new book. Finally, after getting over a week behind in my reading schedule, I knew there was only one author who could get me out of my slump. That author was Ruthie Downie. You may remember me singing her praises about Medicus, her novel of the Roman Empire. Well, let me tell you, Terra Icognita, the second book in the series, is just as good. Maybe even better.
Terra Incognita follows our medicus, Ruso, on his journey to the end of the civilized world as he knows it, where he falls into the middle of a suspicious crime investigation. This small little Roman outpost also happens to be where Tilla grew up. That’s why I like this book better than the first: it gives us Tilla’s background and allows us to see her torn between her home people and the foreigner that she has come to care about. Ruso also does not fail to delight the reader in his earnest yet bumbling pursuit of justice.
I’m a terrible person at figuring out the murderer, so I was as bewildered as ever and followed Ruso’s leads with delight. Unlike some tv crime shows, every suspect in this book seems plausible. We all know that the first suspect is never the guilty one, but a lot of the time I was not 100 percent convinced. It didn’t help that the first suspect was Tilla’s ex-boyfriend. Yeah, I didn’t like him at all.
So far only one con of the book comes to mind, and I hate to mention it. It was that I thought the sudden appearance of Valens about 60 percent of the way through the book was unwarranted and clumsy. It was like Ruth Downie thought the book was getting too boring (which it wasn’t!) and needed a little comedy to freshen things up. The reason this complaint is not a big one is because Valens was my favorite character in the first book and he is still pretty cool in this one. But at the same time he felt stilted and out of place, and his reason for joining Ruso was a poorly tacked-on subplot.
Oh, and I didn’t feel like Aemilia’s character development was realistic.
But on the whole, the book was great. Amazing. I loved it. If you haven’t picked up Medicus yet, you need to. And then you will want to grab Terra Incognita and the other two books.