Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)” as Want to Read:
Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Semper Fidelis

(Gaius Petreius Ruso #5)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,735 ratings  ·  174 reviews
Back at his post as a doctor in the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain, Ruso uncovers a new danger even closer to home than the neighboring barbarians. As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it's clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia's imperial army. Is the much- decorated Centurion Geminus pre ...more
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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 Semper Fidelis, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Semper Fidelis

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,735 ratings  ·  174 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
S.J.A. Turney
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book 5 in my tour of the life of Ruso and Tilla. It's a rollercoaster ride, for sure. I've followed Ruso and his slave/housekeeper/girlfriend/wife from Chester to Northumberland, to the south of France, then London, and now to York. It's like a pit-stop tour of some of my favourite places guided by two of my favourite characters and penned by one of my favourite writers.

If you don't know how much I love Ruth's books by now then you're clearly new to the blog. The Ruso mysteries are at the very t
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Really fun crime mystery in the interesting setting of Roman York. And we get to meet the Roman Emperor Hadrian in this one!
Assaph Mehr
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Back with the Legio XX, Ruso is doing inspection rounds. We are treated to a view of life in the various outposts and training of recruits for the Roman legions. As usual, Ruso gets dragged (reluctantly!) into looking at some unsavoury aspects of life and death.

What to Expect

Well-researched details about Roman life in Roman Britain under Hadrian (who makes a cameo appearance), murders and other nefarious deeds, a plot and sub-plots that twist and build up - all for a great read overall.

The POV o
Another enjoyable entry in the author's Ruso series.

Ruso is back with the XX Legion in Britain and has decided to make an inspection tour of the legion's medical facilities so as to avoid crossing paths with the Emperor's retinue. In the wake of the recent troubles, Hadrian has come to the island to supervise the building of the Wall and settle the VI Legion there as reinforcements. While in Eboracum (York), he stumbles across several mysterious deaths and injuries amongst the British recruits a
This finds Medicus Ruso back in the XX Legion and with a vexillation to Eboracum where the VI Legion is taking over. He and his wife, Tilla, are involved in solving the mystery of why so many British recruits are dying in suspicious circumstances. There's a good portrayal of Emperor Hadrian and his wife, Empress Sabina, visiting Eboracum and Hadrian devising plans for his Wall. Downie gave us a memorable conception of Sabina, an important character in this novel. ...more
Downie set the story of Semper Fidelis book 5 of the series, in 2nd century Roman Britain during Hadrian’s rule. The protagonist Gaius Petreius Ruso, a Roman Army Medical officer and wife Tilla, a native Briton are back with the 20th legion. The Emperor Hadrian and Empress Sabina are visiting England. Ruso and Tilla are posted to fortress Eboracum (modern day York) only to find things are going seriously wrong there for the legion’s British recruits. Mysterious injuries and deaths have occurred. ...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ruth Downie has done it again. Semper Fidelis is another great story in this mystery series. Just a quick warning, there are a few spoilers in my post.

If you have not read any of this series don’t start here. Go back to book one where you first met the two main characters, Ruso and Tilla. Russo is a depressed, unhappy person. His father squandered all of the family money before he died and Ruso as the oldest son is the one who has to keep the family afloat. He is doing this by serving as a docto
Monica Hills
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This was not my favorite book in this series. I like the characters a lot especially Tilly. This one brought in emperor Hadrian and his wife which was interesting. I did get a little confused at some parts as I lost track of who was who. It had some good elements but I have liked some of her others so much better.
2020 bk 8. Ruso is back in the Army, with the Twentieth. The Twentieth Legion is stationed in the backwoods and preparing for a move. It also has a band of recruits from among the Britains. It also has big problems. Suicides that are swept under the rug, mysterious "training deaths' and officers who want to hide what is happening. A chance visit by Hadrian and his Empress lands Ruso and Tilla in more hot water before the issues of this mystery are resolved. I have to admit that this book seemed ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of the adventures of Ruso and Tilla. Somewhat more enjoyable that some others in the series, although all are readable.
Linda Baker
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Semper Fidelis, #5 in Ruth Downie's Gaius Petreius Ruso series, set in Roman Britain. I was especially eager as we spent the week after Christmas in Corbridge, Northumberland and visited the major Roman excavation there. I had a much better idea of what a Roman town in Britain looked like and it added to my enjoyment of an already favorite series. Corbridge also brought home the rigors of Roman Legion life. Northumberland is no place to be in a tunic a ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the most exciting book yet in the Gaius Petreius Ruso series. I was scared half to death during half of the book, having no clue how everything will be solved.

Ruso and Tilla arrive to Ibaracum to learn that a Centurion is abusing his recruits. Ruso, who is a lovely man with a hugely developed sense of duty, puts his neck on the line to do the right thing. And let me tell you, that things go terrible for him! I was mad at Tilla, who just keeps pushing Ruso thinking he's invincible. I tho
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Once again Medicus, with the help of his wife, Tilla, solved the crime. The Roman world is safe and all can sleep well! I really like Ruth Downie's serial. I looked forward to this book coming out and I look forward to the next one. I like mysteries and I like historical novels, Miss Downie's books give you both. ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this was the best yet in this series. I downloaded the audobook from Audible and I could not stop listening. It ate my Friday. Fans of historical mysteries, ancient Rome, or just good character-building should check out the adventures of Ruso and Tilla.
Another excellent entry in this series featuring a doctor in the service of the Legion serving in Britannia. Ruso is a great reluctant hero and Tilla is always highly entertaining. The plot was quite suspenseful and quick moving and the look at Hadrian and his wife interesting.
Beth Amy
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another good one

When we last left Ruso, he was in Valens' house writing letters about a position as a civilian doctor...anywhere except where his last investigation took place, a place where he was offered a house and a practice that fits an old quote I once heard, the source if which I can't recall, but which also describes some types of nursing: "Money is too expensive to be earned that way."
Now, he's back in Deva as a military medic. He was able to renew his contract, and he's familiar with t
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-unlimited
This installment was a little darker than the others in the series. The book explores some serious and deep issues and therefore, the characteristic humour found in the other books was dimmed somewhat. Some of the issues explored which were more relevant to life in the armed forces (such as pack mentality and the use of torture) whilst others were more general (such as the nature and role of leadership).

Downie handled the grave and weighty topics very well and created a believable and powerful
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Gaius Ruso, Medicus to the Twentieth Legion, and his wife, Briton barbarian, Tilla are once more in Britannia. Though Ruso's commission had expired while he was on sick leave at home in Gaul, his friend and fellow Medicus, Valens, pulled some strings and got him reinstated. The two find themselves in Eboracum ( modern day York ) awaiting a visit from Emperor Hadrian and his Empress, Sabrina. The Legion has had its ranks increased by the recent recruitment of young Britons but there seems to be s ...more
Andrew Doohan
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Another enjoyable journey through the daily life of a Medicus of Rome's Twentieth Legion, currently stationed in the province of Britannia.

Our hero, Gaius Petreius Ruso, and his Briton wife, Tilla, are visiting one of the smaller locations occupied by the legion in the hope of avoiding the presence of the emperor on his journey through the province. In doing so, Ruso is drawn into some unsavoury practices that directly impact on the local recruits into the legion, makes enemies of other officers
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This is now the 5th volume in the misadventures of Roman medical officer Ruso and his Briton wife Tilla, and it was about comparable to the previous volumes: entertaining, a dash of humor and action, a bit of mystery, nothing too spectacular but a worthwhile read. I returned to the series after about a five year break because eight days after the date I finished this I am going to England so it seemed like a fun thing to read before the trip (even though we are not going to Eboracum [York], wher ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing

Normally I find every day characters in historical fiction who just happen to bump into famous people stretches my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point and usually find it annoying.

However, I was very pleased here at how well it works to have Ruso and Tilla meet Emperor Hadrian and Empress Sabina in Book 5 of the Medicus series.

Downie has laid the groundwork since Book 1 that the emperor was going to be coming to Britain, and, historically, if a Roman was going to meet their emperor, H
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
The more books I read in this series, the more impressed I become with it. The details of Roman Britain are well researched, the writing excellent, and I really do have a mad crush on our hero, Ruso, the Medicus. In this story, he and his native wife Tilla have rejoined the XX Legion in Eboracum - present day York. Before long, they hear of some suspicious injuries, deaths and a desertion among the recruits, who are native Britons. Ruso, with his connections in the military ranks, and Tilla, who ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the fifth book in the Roman historical series centred around medical officer Gaius Ruso and his British wife Tilla. Once again Ruso becomes involved as unofficial investigator, this time into the deaths of a number of young British recruits in the Roman Legions at the time of Emperor Hadrian. Ruso asks questions no one wants to hear and is himself imprisoned for a murder, whilst his wife Tilla, ignoring his instructions not to get involved, seeks out the Emperor's wife Sabrina.

A great ta
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite entry in the series so far.

The novel is more complex than the other entries except, perhaps, the fourth, because Ruso and Tilla end up investigating several deaths that may or may not be connected. Moreover, the novel features impending visits by Hadrian and his wife, Sabina, which adds both interesting political and interesting social dimensions to the story as we get a glimpse of the interaction between the aristocracy and the common masses that rejects standard portrayals (which g
H Gibson
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nothing will ever replace Sano Ichiro in my heart so much so that I'm holding off reading the last two books in the historical mystery series because once it's over, it's over. However, I'm really taking to Gaius Petreius Ruso in Ruth Downie's Medicus series, also historical mystery. By book five, Downie is still pouring the heat on Ruso. He really takes a hit in this book, but it makes her protagonist and the outcomes that much more believable. She even ends this one on a note of tension betwee ...more
Jim Bogue
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another great read in this fine series. Ruso (our hero the legionary doctor) and his British wife Tilla arrive at a new posting. Immediately things start to go wrong. It hosts a training unit of new recruits, native British who are now citizens. And the recruits think they have been cursed.
Ruso in his way and Tilla in hers set out to find out what’s really happening. Ruso finds a Roman officer who at least seems to care about his men. And then the Emperor Hadrian, on a tour of the province, show
Dawn Bozuhoski
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
It was ok. Not as good as the first four. I still liked the characters, but really didn’t understand the jump to this setting. It just didn’t feel coherent. The biggest issue I had is that *every* mystery series has at least one book where the main character (and/or close friend/love interest) is accused of the crime and the book is centered around getting them off. Personally, I just don’t like that episode in any of the series. It is predictable, and to me, tedious.

That said I still like the
Freddie Silva
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are a few good writers of historical crime novels, but Ruth Downie is my favorite. The Gaius Ruso mystery series is set in ancient Rome. Gaius Ruso is a Medicus by trade, but he is also a bit of a busybody and can't seem to ignore a mystery. Add in his proud native British wife Tilla, who is equally nosey, and you get an entertaining read.

Each book follows a different crime that needs solving and furthers the adventures of this pair of sleuths. A series worth reading if you are looking fo
D.L. Morrese
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ruso has rejoined the Twentieth Legion as a medicus, but mysterious deaths and then an apparent murder put him once again in the role of investigator. Unfortunately, his questions are threatening to disclose secrets that some very powerful people want kept, and Ruso himself comes under investigation. A visit to Britannia by Emperor Hadrian further complicates the situation.

This enjoyable series of murder mysteries never ceases to satisfy. Each one builds from the last and further develops the ma
Another fun outing for Ruso and Tilla. I do find the light, modern tone of these novels occasionally a little jarring: would the ancient Romans really have called something (view spoiler), or is that a "modern translation" that sounds super-modern? Did Roman hospitals really work the way they're described or is there some present-projection-into-the-past going on? I can happily believe that I underestimate the modernity of ancient Rome in some ways, but sometimes it ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Grove of the Caesars (Flavia Albia Mystery #8)
  • The Germanicus Mosaic (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #1)
  • The Ghosts of Glevum (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #6)
  • Ovid (Marcus Corvinus, #1)
  • The Red Hill (Thomas Berrington #1)
  • A Pattern of Blood (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #2)
  • The Spook Who Spoke Again (Flavia Albia Mystery, #2.5)
  • The Legatus Mystery (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #5)
  • Death of an Eye (Eye of Isis, #1)
  • The Raider Bride (The Norsewomen Book 3)
  • The Falcon Queen (The Norsewomen Book 2)
  • The Chariots of Calyx (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #4)
  • Murder in the Forum (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #3)
  • Enemies of the Empire (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #7)
  • Enemies at Home (Flavia Albia Mystery, #2)
  • Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)
  • A Roman Ransom (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #8)
  • A Coin for the Ferryman (Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain, #9)
See similar books…
Ruth is the author of nine mysteries* featuring Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British partner Tilla. The latest is a novella, PRIMA FACIE. She lives in Devon, England. 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 wh

Other books in the series

Gaius Petreius Ruso (8 books)
  • Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)
  • Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)
  • Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #3)
  • Caveat Emptor (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #4)
  • Tabula Rasa (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #6)
  • Vita Brevis (Medicus Investigation #7)
  • Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
16 likes · 2 comments
“The Empress Sabina had long ago formed her own theory about the nonsense in travel books. No traveler, having gone to the expense and trouble of venturing where most civilized people were too sensible to go, was going to come home and admit that it had been a waste of time. Instead, he had to pronounce his destination to be full of strange wonders, like the elk with no knees that could be caught by sabotaging the tree against which it leaned when it slept (Julius Caesar) or the men from India who could wrap themselves in their own ears (reported by the elder Pliny, who seemed to have written down everything he was ever told), or the blue-skinned Britons (Julius Caesar again).
Strangely, no traveler had ever brought one of these creatures home for inspection. Doubtless they were impossible to capture, or died on the journey, or the blue came off in the wash.”
“That was one of the bad things about being able to read: people could nag you from a great distance.” 1 likes
More quotes…