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Terra Incognita

(Gaius Petreius Ruso #2)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,515 ratings  ·  349 reviews
Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso strikes out for the uncivilized borders of Roman Britain in this highly anticipated sequel to Ruth Downie's New York Times bestselling debut.

It is spring in the year 118, and Gaius Petreius Ruso has been stationed in the Roman-occupied province of Britannia for nearly a year. After his long and reluctant investigation of the murders of a han
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a fun book and a quick read.
It is the story of a Roman medicus and his "servant" Tilla. Ruso, the Roman doctor, finds himself in the middle of a murder when he is taking his servant back to her Brigante village and hopefully to see her father again. On the way they stop at an Inn and Tilla goes outside during a storm to check on a woman whose baby she has just delivered. Then all hell breaks loose as Tilla comes face to face with, who she believes, is the Great Horned God Cernunnos !

Jul 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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
MANY MILES SOUTH of Coria, Ruso gathered both reins in his left hand, reached down into the saddlebag, and took out the pie he had saved from last night.

fraudio> rosado mp3>
hist fic> ancient hist> roman> britain

Narrated by Simon Vance

From wiki: Coria was a fort and town, located 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of Hadrian's Wall, in the Roman province of Britannia. Its full Latin name is uncertain. Today it is known as Corchester or Corbridge Roman Site, adjoining Corbridge in the English
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.
Assaph Mehr
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ruso continues his contract as a medic with the 20th legion, this time up on the northern border. Between wild barbarians, jumpy centurions, and his shady housekeeper, he gets dragged again into solving murders.

What to Expect

The novel is set Britannia at the start of Hadrian's reign. Ruso is always reluctant to look at those murder (he's a doctor, dammit, not an investigator!) but since no one else would he feels obliged. Things naturally become much more complicated than anyone expects, and Rus
Blaine DeSantis
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Second book in this series and this time we follow Medicus Ruso to the hinterlands of Britain, as he asked to transfer from the setting in the first book to this remote area. Why? To get away from some of the issues he was involved in at Deva and also to please his housekeeper Tilla who is from this area.
It does not take Ruso long to get embroiled in a murder of a Roman Legionnaire and other issues. Ruso is the proverbial reluctant hero, as he always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong t
2019 bk 321. Ruso volunteered to head north with the troop. That is right, he volunteered. Little did he know that he was heading into Tillie's home territory and into a mystery, no make that several mysteries involving Tillie and her extended family. This novel is set along the northern edges of Roman Britania - the borderlands. When a member of his unit is injured, he, the injured man, Tillie and others must stop at the last fort before their final destination. A murder of a Roman Soldier had ...more
Margaret Metz
Jan 17, 2011 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
Kathy Davie
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2012 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
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 Fe
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Ben Kane
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
**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
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Simon Binning
Gaius Petreius Ruso is medicus to the Twentieth Legion in the north of Britannia. Having been involved in solving a murder or two in the Legion's base at Deva, he heads further north to Coria, a small fort near the still-disputed border. The locals - for the moment - live peaceably alongside the incoming Romans. But further away, the tribes are biding their time, and a mysterious rider has been seen, taunting the Romans and stirring up the native population.
As soon as Ruso arrives, he finds that
Helen Hollick
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ruso and Tilla are absolute delights. Ruth Downie has created a wonderfully witty, engrossing series that will have her readers turning the pages to discover not only who the murderer is, but also laughing at the delicious humour. But don’t be deceived by the wit, Ms Downie knows her stuff as far as the detail and the facts behind the fiction go.

This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The second in the series is quite as enjoyable as the first.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruso, a Roman army doctor or medicus, is posted to the North of Britain. On his arrival, he finds that a soldier has been killed, and the current doctor is determined to confess to the murder. Inside the fort, Ruso is tasked with sorting out the infirmary, while outside the local natives are thought to be plotting a rebellion. Against his better judgement, Ruso is dragged in to investigating the murder.

Enjoyable story - the plot is quite straightforward and the initial mystery often gets lost in
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
January 2017.. I am rereading all the Medicus books in order..

"Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso strikes out for the uncivilized borders of Roman Britain..But the edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the independent tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Ruso's slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle "

This book finished the series for me..thanks Ruth Downie for the recent sale! Waiting for the next in the series,hopefully.

I do love the
Apr 03, 2011 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
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:
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
May 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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! ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I enjoyed "Medicus" the first in the series of these novels, I was wary of continuing to read the whole series. "Terra Incognita" changed my mind. The second novel fleshes out the characters far more (which is to be expected I presume). As a big fan of Steven Saylor's work, I looked to Ruth Downie as a possible complement and I would say I have found it. ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Ken Cartisano
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. To those unfamiliar with the writer or the series, I suggest you start with the first book in the series, The Medicus. I started them out of order, and it ruins a few of the surprises from the earlier books, even still, each book stands alone as an excellent story.
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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)
  • 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)
  • Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)

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