Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)” as Want to Read:
Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Terra Incognita (Medicus Investigation #2)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,274 Ratings  ·  246 Reviews
“Downie’s attention to day-in-the-life period details, judiciously doled-out twists, and dry British humor make Incognita one hell of a toga party.”—Entertainment Weekly

Following her widely acclaimed, New York Times bestselling debut, Ruth Downie sends beleaguered army doctor Gaius Petrius Ruso to the uncivilized borders of the Roman Empire, where the Roman-controlled Bri
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Terra Incognita, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Terra Incognita

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 08, 2011 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery/historical fiction fans
Terra Incognita is the second installment in Downie’s series about the hapless legionary physician Gaius Petreius Ruso and his slave, the British Tilla (aka Darlughdacha). This time he’s traveling north to Hadrian’s Wall with a cohort of the XX Legion; as it happens, he’s also heading into Tilla’s homeland, whose natives are being incited to revolt by the Stag Man. An accident strands Ruso at the border fort of Coria for several days, and he’s asked to write a pro forma postmortem for the garris ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-historical
c2008. Why these books have not yet been adapted for a TV series, I do not know. The story is certainly character driven as the "crime" is not unsolvable for the reader but chugs on to a satisfying conclusion. But the background and the characters are most definitely the stars. As ever, when a book starts to make me shout at the characters, then I know it is doing its job. I wanted to shake Russo when he was so offhand and suspicious of Tilla's gift. And I was still thinking about it sometime af ...more
Kathy Davie
Feb 22, 2011 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second in the ancient Roman mystery series, Gaius Petreius Ruso, Terra Incognita has Medicus Ruso and Tilla marching North with the Twentieth Legion due to unrest on the border. Ruso has volunteered for this mission primarily to give Tilla the chance to reconnect with family---a very disheartening reunion involving betrayal within betrayal and revolutionary plotting.

Ruso finds himself under siege on several fronts: a soldier has been ritually murdered; Tilla is not allowed into the fort proper a
Margaret Metz
Feb 04, 2011 Margaret Metz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm awaiting the fourth novel, which I won in a contest, and so I thought I would read the first one and see about "catching up" on the series before I read the one I'd won. I'm so glad I did. These are really well written historical novels that manage to capture the essence of the time period without sacrificing the character of any of the people involved.

These are secular novels, but they are fairly clean. I have to say fairly because that time period included things that many people would fin
What I really like about this series is the wonderful sense of humor and characterization that Downie layers these books with. Honestly, the mystery is rather simple, but it is like one of those Masterpiece Theatre things. Nice and funny. Comforting and totally enjoyable. One of those books were it seems the author liked writing and is happy people are reading it.
Ben Kane
Aug 07, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having greatly enjoyed the first book in this series, I felt compelled to move on to the second. *mild spoilers ahead* The story takes up the story of Ruso, a somewhat hapless surgeon with the Twentieth Legion in Deva (modern-day Chester). Sent north with a patrol, he finds himself in an outpost manned by auxiliaries and beset by rumours of tribal uprisings. The area happens to be the homeground of Tilla, his slave and now lover. As Ruso tries to come to grips with the injured soldiers and mad d ...more
May 10, 2009 Valorie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, ancient-rome
Title: Terra Incognita
Author(s): Ruth Downie
Genre: Fiction - Historical, Fiction - Mystery
Finished: May 10, 2009
Rating: 5 Stars

In Terra Incognita, Medicus Ruso and his housekeeper Tilla travel from Deva with the Twentieth Legion to join the Tenth Batavians in Coria, which is located just at the British boardlands and has little else for Ruso but good wine and trouble. Once there, Ruso finds himself involved in another murder investigation. This one involves a dead trumpeter by the name of Felix
Nov 13, 2013 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite enjoyed this story for the actual mystery, the history and the characters but the real gem in this and the first book is the interaction between Tilla and Ruso. They aren't truly a couple but just like paired people everywhere, they have NO IDEA what the other one is thinking at any given time and end up completely misunderstanding each other on a regular basis.

The author uses this as sort of a levity inducing prop that keeps the story from being too dark and grim. And the story is a bi
**3.5 stars**

I don't know why I keep liking the books so much. Yes, there is humor but it's subtle and understated. The mysteries are decent but not crazy and unbelievable. It's just a combination of a solid plot, some humor and the main character, who is so noble but trying to hide it. He makes it seem as if doing the right thing is a chore but always comes true at the end.

The romance aspect is a bit of a mystery because the reader has almost no clue as the feelings of Tilla, Ruso's lover. Is s
Jamie Collins
I enjoyed this second book from Ruth Downie, a historical mystery set in Roman Britain at the beginning of Hadrian's reign. It picks up immediately after the events in the first book, where army physician Guius Petreius Ruso acquired an unwanted reputation for investigating suspicious deaths.

Ruso has obligingly moved to a more northerly posting, where the natives are restless, so that his own personal Briton can visit what's left of her homeland. He finds there an infirmary not up to his standar
Aug 10, 2009 Sjo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This is a disapointing follow up to Ruth Downie's debut Medicus where she managed to create a fascinating Roman era Britain, complete with a character Gaius Ruso, who is either a nosy Roman military doctor, or Quincy in a toga. Unfortunatley, in the second installment, she pursues a side story involving Ruso's barbarian love interest Tilla, and we delve into too many barbarian / tribal type cliches when Ruso heads into hostile territory to find her. Yes, they wear fur, dance at the moon, are hon ...more
Apr 22, 2011 J.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaius Petreius Ruso, a divorced army doctor attempting to sort out family debts and his personal life, volunteers for temporary duty on a northern outpost in Roman Britain. In addition to a change of scenery, Ruso sought to bring his housekeeper/slave Tilla back to her home village.

En route to the posting, an act of sabotage seriously injures a soldier. Thessalus, the resident medic, is under guard as a madman and claims to have murdered another soldier. Ruso is asked to temporarily fill in unti
Dec 30, 2012 Yune rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ruso volunteers to serve a temporary assignment up north, where his slave Tilla's home lies, to duck out of the public eye for a while. I was neutral about this idea at first, and soon grew disappointed. Downie doesn't have the deft touch with cultural misunderstandings that, say, Gillian Bradshaw has (see: The Island of Ghosts for a story about Rome-occupied Britain, from the perspective of a conquered Sarmatian). The British here seem to speak in a stilted manner, are presented as superstitiou ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Serene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last one I am going to read. While I like elements of the series, the character Tilla really annoys me. She is really unbelievable. While I'm sure slaves grew to have trusted places in their master's households, I just don't find her relationship with the medical officer in the army that believeable. I also still feel the series feels too modern for me. The main character's values seem like those of a modern guy.

I also liked the character of Thessalus. He was an interesting characte
Aug 01, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'm really enjoying this series. Another review described the protagonist as "hapless," and that about covers it. He's a good doctor, but he just stumbles around in a fog otherwise. Very entertaining.
I like the idea of this series more than I'm liking the books themselves. Ruso's persistent ineptness when it comes to women is tiresome and Tilla's stubbornness, deceit and willful ignorance can be monotonous.
I love the setting, especially in this book, at Hadrian's Wall. The descriptiveness that the author brings to her writing in regards to the people and places is wonderful and in my opinion, is the stories saving grace.
This was a good mystery set in Roman Britian with characters that coul
Rebecca Huston
A very enjoyable book in the series. This time Ruso and Tilla head north to the outposts along Hadrian's Wall (at least, where it will be). A missing head, a runaway wagon, unhappy natives, beer and brewing and the mysterious Gathering all play a part in this one. Those who like a good stir of humour in their stories should enjoy this one. Four stars overall and recommended.

To read the longer review, please go here:
Feb 01, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am reading the series in order, and this was another solid entry. I can't say that the mysteries are terribly interesting in and of themselves --- Downie plots like Agatha Christie. The characters mill around in their setting talking to each other about the crime, as opposed to a procedural or anything like that.

It's the setting that has me hooked. Downie pulls off Evelyn Waugh's trick in Helena. These are recognizable modern-day Britons (Gaius is technically a Gaul, and there are occasional f
Glenn Younger
Dec 28, 2014 Glenn Younger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes murder mysteries set in ancient times
Perhaps it's because I read "Terra Incognita" on the same day I finished book one, "Medicus", and so I was coming off of an excellent story, that made this sequel feel slightly flat in comparison.

Medicus Ruso was still self effacing in a likable way. There was another complicated murder to solve despite Ruso's desire to stay out of it. The army bureaucracy and politics were still in place to entertain. Even the cast of characters were still vividly unique.

So why not five stars like I gave book
Apr 30, 2016 Norma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, reviewed, roman, 2016
""Sorry not to help you, sir""

The Roman medicus, Ruso, travels north with his female slave and finds himself embroiled in a messy murder, a possible native uprising and the ravings of a seemingly mad resident doctor to the Legion. Who killed, and beheaded, Felix? What happened to the head? And, in the absence of the actual culprit, who will be executed for the crime?
I first read this book under the title, Ruso and the Demented Doctor, and revisited it this time with the audio version narrated by
Paul Bennett
May 19, 2015 Paul Bennett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaius Petreius Ruso, currently attached to the 20th Legion has arrived in the northern reaches of Britain, the fort at Coria along with his slave/housekeeper/lover, Tilla. This is her homeland and she is naturally looking forward to going there. For Ruso, this should only be a short stay as the 20th is moving on to another outpost, Ulucium. However, events intervene and the hapless doctor finds himself stuck at Coria and enmeshed in the investigation of the mysterious murder of a legionnaire of ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
RATING: 4.49 out of 5.0 rounded down to 4.0

SUMMARY: These books are really mysteries set in the time of the Roman Empire. A Roman doctor in the Roman Legion is stationed in England on the edge of the Roman Frontier. In the first book he acquired a native slave girl. He agrees to take her home for a visit by volunteering for a temporary posting at a frontier border fort. Of course murder occurs and the good doctor has to stumble around to find the guilty party before an innocent native is charged
Jul 17, 2015 Marlowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Britannia’s Twentieth Legion is heading north, to the very edges of civilization, and taking Gaius Petreius Ruso and his slave, Tilla, along with it. As in Medicus, he soon finds himself pulled into a murder investigation. Only this time, Tilla may be connected.

Terra Incognita is a wonderful sequel, capturing much of what made Medicus such a great novel while simultaneously finding its own unique value. As with the first book in the series, the murder comes almost secondary to the comedy and dra
Jun 08, 2009 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the setting for these books - Roman Britain, so interesting! - and the characters are interesting, the pace light and breezy, but I have to say I'm not real moved by the actual writing. This was worth reading, but I didn't ever feel super compelled to pick it up - kinda had to slog through it. Still, though, it gives you a god feeling for what things were (maybe) like, and I love that!
A fun, Roman mystery series. I particularly like that Downie doesn't immediately give in to making her characters adhere to modern cultural values. Yes, there's some of that going on, of course. And she does, at least in the early novels, run into the problem of the fact that Ruso and Tilla's relationship is constantly fraught (for some modern readers) with questions about consent (can a slave consent to a sexual relationship with a master?). The novels handle this really well, though, and the s ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fun installment in the Ruso series. Ruso has transferred to northern borderland in Britannia. He and Tilla are a couple now, but there are complications. First, a solder/trumpeter named Felix has been murdered and - ugh - his head is missing. Second, this is Tilla's home and she still has family and friends here. She develops an annoying tendency to vanish for long periods at a time without telling Ruso where she's going. Third, the chief suspect in Felix's murder is Tilla's former boyfr ...more
Alison Dellit
Moving at a faster clip than the first entry in the series, and dealing more intricately with the various dynamics between colonisers, collaborators, resisters and the colonised, this book held my attention all the way through. I like how Downie resists the urge to give her protagonists enlightened modern views on slavery, without denying them morality and their own sense of justice and injustice.
Not everything works - Tilla's continued affection for her Medicus is not really felt or explained,
Jul 04, 2008 Dfunky1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The characters are three-dimensional and the story intriguing. This text is delightful within its genre of historical mysteries.
Jan 20, 2016 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I picked up this series. The characters are as engaging as in Louise Penny's Three Pines series even though they're from the year 118 in Roman-occupied Britain. Ruso is an unlikely sleuth. He'd rather mind his own business, tend to his patients, manage his housekeeper Tilla, and find a way to make a little cash for his strapped relatives back in Gaul. Unfortunately for a man who's sworn off marriage, he's fallen for the stubborn and independent Tilla who, besides being female--an ent ...more
Lucy Crowe
Jun 05, 2015 Lucy Crowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoyed the first novel in Ruth Downie's Roman Emppire series that I had to dive into the next, Terra Incognita. What a wonderful read! Russo and Tilla are great characters, and their almost-love story is approached in a true-to-life manner (which is to say that the reader is never quite certain of its outcome). The love story is, of course, secondary to the mystery, and I truly enjoyed every bit of that aspect as well. Unsnarling the tangle of who committed murder, who thinks they committe ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Alexandria (Marcus Didius Falco, #19)
  • The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6)
  • SPQR V: Saturnalia (SPQR, #5)
  • Ovid (Marcus Corvinus, #1)
Ruth is the author of six mysteries* featuring Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso. The latest is TABULA RASA. She lives in Devon, England, and is married with two grown-up sons. A combination of nosiness and a childish fascination with mud means she is never happier than when wielding an archaeological trowel.

She is sometimes called R.S. Downie, but she isn't the person with the same name who w
More about Ruth Downie...

Other Books in the Series

Medicus Investigation (7 books)
  • Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)
  • Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #3)
  • Caveat Emptor (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #4)
  • Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
  • Tabula Rasa (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #6)
  • Vita Brevis (Medicus Investigation #7)

Share This Book

“One of the many difficult things about women was that they tended to pick the most unsuitable times to tell you something they considered to be important, and then became irrationally upset when you failed to remember it.” 13 likes
“Back from where? you're not going out again and leaving me here are you?? Holy Hercules I sound like somebody's wife” 8 likes
More quotes…