Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Roma Nova #1


Rate this book
New York, present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after a kidnap attempt, has a choice - being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother's homeland in Europe.

Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family. Just as she's finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her.

But the enforcer has crossed to Europe to pursue her. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it...

An alternate history adventure, first in the Roma Nova series

316 pages, Paperback

First published February 27, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Alison Morton

32 books141 followers
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France and Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction.

"Grips like a vice - a writer to watch out for" says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.

Alison now lives in Poitou in France, where part of her latest book Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series.
Sign up to Alison's newsletter for a FREE ebook: http://eepurl.com/ckNeFL

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
132 (35%)
4 stars
131 (35%)
3 stars
61 (16%)
2 stars
32 (8%)
1 star
12 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews
Profile Image for The Cats’ Mother.
2,061 reviews132 followers
March 24, 2021
Inceptio is the first book in an Alternative History series about Roma Nova, a small country in the Italian Alps established in the 4th century AD by refugees from Ancient Rome, who have perpetuated their unique culture and matrilineal systems to remain politically neutral and economically independent in a world subtly different to our own. This is a new genre to me, and while it’s fundamentally an action adventure with a tough female protagonist, I’ve added it to my Fantasy/Sci-fi shelf because while it’s set in an alternate present reality, the plot is basically the same as every fantasy story I’ve ever read/watched: ordinary poor young orphan living in a dull world discovers they come from a high-born family and are actually super-special with a destiny only they can fulfil. I spent the first half rolling my eyes and sure that this would be all I’d read of the series, but enjoyed the second half enough to want to know what happens next.

Karen Brown works for a New York advertising agency and volunteers as a park warden. She knows little about her Roma Novan mother and originally English but naturalised American father, as they both died when she was young, leaving her to be raised by unfriendly cousins in Nebraska. When she falls afoul of a prominent politician, Karen finds herself the target of an aggressive rogue agent working for the Eastern United States government who is determined to capture her for his own reasons. Rescued by a handsome diplomatic aide, she is offered a stark choice - renounce her American life and begin again in Europe with her wealthy Roma Novan grandmother, or risk her life at the hands of the psychopath. Reborn as Carina Mitela, she vows to never again be a victim, embarking on a brutal training regime and taking on a dangerous new career in defence of her new homeland.

I bought this recently when it came up on special, having heard of it through an author I’m friendly with. I’ve started setting myself random reading tasks for when I’m up to date with my ARCs and this one, set months ago, was “most recent bought ebook”. I liked the idea of learning about Ancient Rome and wasn’t expecting it to be so much of a YA thriller, complete with the obligatory love triangle and Mary-Sue heroine. She is only 25 and so was pretty annoying, but I did eventually warm to her. I do like a bit of speculative fiction occasionally, but found the world-building here to be inconsistent and at times nonsensical.

Obviously the focus here is Carina and her evolution from meek Good Girl to bolshy Badass. It all came rather easily to her - from becoming fluent in Latin within a few months, to defeating her instructors in combat and acquiring advanced military strategic and covert ops skills, and making everyone like her in spite of her often bratty and arrogant behaviour. I wasn’t convinced by the romance either - fortunately it’s not the whole point of the plot. I swithered with my rating but am rounding up from 3.5 because ultimately I enjoyed the action and the writing was good. I’ve already got the novella which comes next in the series having downloaded it for free at some point, so will read that then think about buying the next one when my TBR shrinks a bit.
Profile Image for Paul Bennett.
Author 6 books60 followers
February 4, 2014

Once again I have wandered off the ancient Roman historical fiction reservation although in this multifaceted tale there is an element of alternate history in regards to The Roman Empire. Before the collapse of the Western Empire and the Ottoman victory in the East, a group of Romans comprising twelve of the oldest families leave Rome and setup a new country in the region between Italy and Austria, Roma-Nova and it has survived into the 21st century.

Karen/Carina/Cara/Pulcheria is living an unassuming life as an office cubicle worker when she is suddenly thrust into a maelstrom of danger and intrigue. Her journey to a new land, a new culture, a new life is the basis for this wonderful book. This story has elements of history, romance, international and political intrigue, rogue/shadowy covert agencies, a coming of age/coming to grips with the reality of who you are, a really nasty bad guy; a wealth of plots to keep you entertained.

The action is plentiful, the emotions are highly charged and the characters are full of life. The journey of turning Karen into Carina is not an easy one but is done in a most entertaining fashion. Of course she is helped along by a great supporting cast especially her nemesis, a member of a covert intelligence agency who plays a kind of counterpoint to Carina’s growth and finding herself; as his chief mission in life is to destroy her. Some nice plot twists as the story progresses enhance the excitement.

It’s nice to occasionally wander away from the familiar and comfortable; even more so when the author produces an itinerary as fun to read as Inceptio. I am looking forward to delving into the sequel, Perfiditas. 4 stars.


I’m Alison Morton and my first novel, INCEPTIO, an alternative history “what if” thriller, was published in March 2013 by SilverWood Books. It’s the story of a 25-year-old who crosses cultures, battles with an entangled emotional life and faces a relentless, vindictive pursuer. On the way she finds out quite a lot about herself.

And, of course, like the best of novels there’s a twist in the tale…

So what makes my book gripping, page turning, a ‘good read’?
- The ordinary person baffled and menaced by an unknown outside threat. Who is this guy who wants to destroy her?
- An alternate timeline of history. How would a small colony surviving from antiquity change the world?
- Universal human needs and goals – survival, security, love, self-knowledge, a place in the world and the urge to make things right
- A personal quest

A lot more about INCEPTIO here and reviews here and here and the UK launch at Waterstones Tunbridge Wells here

Simple stuff, then ;-)

Up to now, most of my published writing output has been about France, property, business and translation. After selling my translation business at the end of summer 2009, I started writing my first Roman novel.

I’ve always been a ‘wordsmith’. Translating professionally for much of my career has made me pretty nit-picky about words, grammar, punctuation, document cohesion, theme and structure.

Oh, the qualification stuff: BA in Modern Languages Studies (French, German and Economics), post-graduate Diploma in Translation (Business & Legal options), MA in History (with a distinction!) and Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

I’m a contributor to the Alternate History Weekly Update a site I thoroughly recommend – it’s friendly and knowledgeable.

I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association under the New Writers’ Scheme in 2010 and have found it supportive, collegiate and brimming with knowledge and experience. The July 2010 conference was not only good for the famed parties and networking opportunities, but above all for the wealth of high quality talks and workshops. Ditto the July 2011 one, but I added in quite a bit of Roman exploration while I was at Caerleon.

I completed a six day writing bootcamp in June 2010 at the Circle of Missé and a week’s Arvon Foundation course on popular fiction in October 2010 followed by taking part in the Festival of Writing at Yorkin March 2011 and the Historical Novel Society Conference in London in September 2012.

I moved to France in May 2010 but as all my friends and colleagues know, I’m always back and forth to the UK.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,436 reviews828 followers
October 19, 2015
Whose catchphrase was it?...you are awful...but I do like it! That. I went through this book very quickly and it was a very pleasant way to spend my Sunday. But I won't be reading any more of the series. It was silly. The main character's life is turned upside down. It turns out she is Special. She comes from a Special place and is from a Special family. She has Special skills and within a year has learned fluent Latin, and become a Special and deadly spy, then, gifted military officer, the best there is, using her Special skills of running really fast and wielding 50 cm carbon- tipped steel blades. And she turns out to be SuperRich. And she immediately pairs up with Mr. Special
The alternative history aspect is also lacking. There were a few token titbits of romanisation, such as people exclaiming 'oh Juno!' once in a while and Saturnalia instead of Christmas. Instead of e mail, they have info mail. Roma Nova actually sounded like a cross between Monaco and Switzerland.
I feel like I've been mean now...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
23 reviews11 followers
March 30, 2015
I absolutely love this book. I'd say my favourite thing about it is Karen Brown's evolution into Carina Mitela. We see the naïve Karen transform into the no-nonsense, tough and capable Carina. The character growth from start to end of the book was excellently written. I'm looking forward to reading more of Carina's adventures.Furthermore, the concept of a modern day Rome run by women is an intriguing. I take my hat off to Alison Morton for coming up with the idea. Carina Mitela jumps up to favourite heroine status along side Zoe Sharp's Charlie Fox.
Profile Image for Helen Hollick.
Author 52 books508 followers
November 27, 2013
I've had this on my Kindle for quite a while - just needed time to read it. And what a read! Forget finding time - everything else took second place - I loved this book! It is well written, fast-paced, absorbing and intriguing. The characters are believable - and the plot and setting equally so, even though belief of reality must be entirely suspended.

What I found most thrilling was that this is not a run-of-the-mill thriller, nor is it historical fiction, but the idea of combining an alternative history with a darn good thriller is fantastic.
Why on earth is Alison Morton self published? This is high quality mainstream stuff, just proving that Indie writers are every bit as good as - if not better than - traditionally published authors!

Well done Alison - more please!
Profile Image for Patrícia.
229 reviews41 followers
April 8, 2013
So different from everything I’ve read so far. Truly, truly unique)**

Wow, what a story!
I don’t think I have enough good words to fully express how special this book is—at least, not yet. It’s not only spectacular—for me—because it’s part of my first ever Blog Tour, but it is so mainly due to how different and fresh and original it truly is when compared to most of the books I’ve been reading lately. I have never read anything like Inceptio before. The way Morton developed the story with something new and thrilling always happening, the characters that ultimately are so believable, and the creation of Roma Nova by itself, all these things together are somewhat pretty amazing.

I really liked Morton’s writing. It is not only quite different from what I’ve come across so far, as it also shows that everything she puts on paper turns out to be important somehow. I also very much enjoyed the true balance between dialogue and narrative, especially because, as a reader, I felt all the good, the bad and the utterly scary thins going on on Karen’s life and, to me, that’s one of the most imperative components in a book. Plus, every single character I found it to be extremely well built and solid. It never mattered how significant their part was in the story, it never mattered how big or small their “physical” presence throughout the book was, all the background, all the crucial information about what motivated them, what made them want to act, want to love, want to protect, is there. This allows the reader to somehow connect with the central people in the story, and to allow himself a chance at being part of the adventure instead of only watching, reading about it.
I particularly liked Karen. She’s an enormously curious and active figure, with a strong personality and a huge amount of bad luck, especially in the first half of the book. Since everything happens to her all the time, the way she responds to problems and to all the new stuff occurring in her life ends up being one of the most interesting aspects of this book. She’s that edgy, exceptional kind of character that in a crazy way captivates the readers attention and even when the book is over, when there’s no more pages left, she’s still pretty much in readers’ thoughts. Renschman was a huge contributor to that unique alliance between reader and heroine. He’s such a damaged man, who helplessly watches everything getting out of his control, that becoming the “evil” character, the villain, was precisely what we could do best. And what a scary guy he turned out to be! It gave me the creeps more than once.

Another element that completely caught me by surprise was the alternate reality—I was aware of this when I first started the book but I could have never imagined how plausible and appealing Roma Nova would turn out to be in the end. I’m a woman so… this would definitely be the most amazing and exciting place for me to live in; but that aside, this is a country that speaks for itself and that’s unbelievably beautiful for the way it keeps its inheritance alive. I couldn’t help myself to fall deeply in love with it—and not because Nonna and Conrad are locals!
Intriguing, imaginative and with a sturdy political side to it—that completely fascinated me—this is the perfect book to anyone who is looking for something different and unusual. I can’t wait for the sequel!

**If you want to check the tour stop and try your luck on winning a signed copy of Inceptio, go here:
Profile Image for Debbie Young.
Author 35 books209 followers
April 6, 2013
"The boy lay in the dirt in the centre of New York's Kew Park..."

A great opening line, to make the reader do an instant double-take, on a par with the one caused by the clock striking thirteen in George Orwell's "1984". Kew Park, as in London's Kew Gardens, not Central Park? - how did that happen? I was immediately drawn in to this intriguing alternative history scenario.

And what a premise it was! - that ancient Roman society and culture was not extinguished with the fall of the Roman Empire but transferred by a small determined group of traditionalists to a new territory, Roma Nova, north of Italy, where it still survives to the present day. The development of what we call the USA has also taken a rather different course, and that's where the story begins, before crossing the pond to Roma Nova. (I'll be intrigued to see what American readers make of this concept, by the way!)

Though still speaking Latin, the Nova Romans are far from untouched by 21st century life, operating futuristic technology, and populated by fatigue-wearing, gun-toting copes who fight to maintain the integrity of their nation's principles and traditions. (Their Saturnalia celebrations are a great draw for the tourists, apparently!)

What kept me turning the pages was the pacy story of a heroine who overcomes an extraordinary set of challenges, with just enough romantic interest thrown in to add an extra dimension without slowing the action.

By chance, I took this book to read on a holiday in the tiny principality of Luxembourg, fiercely proud of its individuality and its heritage, despite being surrounded by much larger, more powerful states. I found myself thinking, in an unguarded moment, that Luxembourg should be on good diplomatic terms with Roma Nova. For a moment there, I'd believed it was real and was half-way to planning my next holiday there. Quite a trick to pull off, Alison Morton! Looking forward to the sequel already...
2 reviews4 followers
March 1, 2013
I really enjoyed this book, fast moving, unique and well thought through.. I read it in 3 days and I was away part of this time. A first novel but the start of a promising series. I was unsure what to expect but the description attracted me:I was not disappointed. Give it a go! So when is the next one coming out!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Ducie.
Author 29 books81 followers
May 10, 2013
This is the first book set in the fictitious country of Roma Nova, located in a semi-mountainous region north of modern-day Italy. Although the story is set in the present, it has its roots in the fourth century AD, when all pagan religions were banned by the Emperor Theodosius. A small group of pagans fled Rome and set up this Matriarchal colony which has propsered and strengthened over the centuries. It is resource-rich, technologically advanced and fiercely protective of its independence.

The heroine of Inceptio is Karen Brown, a tough New Yorker who falls foul of the authorities of the EUS (Eastern United States) when she is falsely accused of assaulting the son of a powerful politician. Then she discovers she is descended from one of the original twelve senatorial families of Roma Nova, a heiress to an industrial fortune and in great danger as she approaches the date when she will finally inherit. In desperation, she flees to Roma Nova together with the mysterious Conradus to whom she is attracted, but not entirely sure she can trust. The dangers follow her to her new home and a thrilling set of adventures begins.

Alison Morton has written a great thriller, with many of the classical elements of a story by Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy. There is drugs trade and the politics surrounding the manufacture of weapons. There is danger, violence, sex, wealth, heroes, heroines and villains. There is even a nod towards James Bond at one point. However, her setting brings great originality to the piece. By changing history so many centuries back, she is able to alter the timeline close up as well and just when we are starting to forget this is a fantasy, Morton will throw in a comment to remind us that everything is not as it seems. For example, there is the Great War of 1925 to 1935; New York’s Kew Park; and the British leaving America in 1867. It reminded me in some ways of Lyra’s world in the Pullman novels; almost right, but not quite.

If I have one slight critisism, it is the irritating way in which the characters swear. As pagans, they are obviously more likely to call on the names of Venus or Juno rather than on Christ, and refer to Hades rather than Hell, but I found the array of names used, especially by Karen, a newcomer to Roma Nova, a bit too much. However that is just a minor quibble. This is a wonderful book that I would thoroughly recommend and I am looking forward to the others in the series.
Profile Image for Rob Griffith.
Author 3 books3 followers
September 5, 2016
Inceptio is an inventive, gripping thriller with vividly drawn and engaging characters. It's my first foray into alternative history and I chose it because I've often thought 'what if Rome didn't fall'.

The first thing that I loved about the book was that Alison didn't go down the obvious route of Rome having maintained a global empire but chose instead to have it surviving as a small enclave in the mountains of Europe, but one that still had a profound influence on world events as the real and imagined timelines diverged.

What really drew me in though was the main character, Karen. She's intelligent, courageous, and bold as any good hero should be but she is also vulnerable and as prone to making mistakes as the rest of us. All the other characters are similarly rounded. Perhaps it's the "Roman" setting but the book did remind me a little of Lindsey Davis' Falco series, mainly because of the realness of the relationships and the witty first person narrative.

The world Alison creates is also very evocative and doesn't fall into cliché. As well as a lot of historical fiction I read a lot of sic-fi and the way the world is revealed is very similar to a good sic-fi novel. There aren't long passages on why the world is different to our own or where the timeline may have changed. The world is just drawn very clearly so you just accept it as reality.

I'll certainly be going on to read the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Anameeka.
69 reviews
October 3, 2017
Ok. This book was just plain fun. It's a zippy read with suspense, romance, and ass-kicking. I like how Karen is pretty average at first, but after the big bad gets to her, she refuses to play victim. When life throws her curve balls, she steps up to the plate and hits back hard.
Profile Image for Angelica Bentley.
Author 1 book4 followers
November 8, 2014
A truly gripping story with all the elements of a modern classic saga. The action is narrated by Karen Brown, the protagonist, a device which always provides tension and immediacy. Stuck in a dull job with a small advertising agency, Karen's main pleasure is spending her free time in New York's Kew Park where she volunteers as park attendant. Stopping an assault on an old man by three drugged-up youths, she punches the leader, who turns out to be the son of the second most powerful man in the country. Instead of receiving a commendation, she is sacked in disgrace, her name is entered on a national security watch list and the Secret Service places her under active surveillance.

Meanwhile, an inventor from Roma Nova (where Karen's mother was born) travels to New York seeking commercial representation. Karen is singled out to deliver the all-important pitch, and her strong presentation impresses both the inventor and his interpreter, Conradus Tellus, a strikingly handsome but mysterious young man whose immense personal magnetism finds an easy target in Karen's lonely heart. Soon her New York life becomes unbearable and, after she narrowly survives a kidnap attempt, Conradus offers her an escape with her mother's family in fabled Roma Nova. But can she trust the enigmatic stranger and leave behind the only life she has known, in the land of the free?

As a native of Rome myself, the Roman civilization has fascinated me from as far back as I can remember. And here is a tale where the historical and the fantastical blend and co-exist with such vividness that the re-invented Eastern United States and the wholly-fictional Roma Nova feel as real as the world outside my window. How could I resist being intrigued by this story?

Armed with impeccable research and clear-sighted vision, Alison Morton dares to imagine a different fate for the mighty, disintegrating Roman Empire. In her scenario a dozen prominent Roman families succeeded in fleeing the inevitable. With the cunning and persistence of true survivors, they travelled to a fictitious location (just inside Austria and above the border with Northern Italy), and regrouped, building a brave new nation ruled by women. Even marriage, though not an essential condition, confirms their superior role, with the husband taking on the wife's last name as he essentially joins her clan. Succession also falls to the nearest female heir and, while men are honoured and valued for their manifest worth, they play, at best, a supporting role to the Queen Bee of Nova Roma, the Empress. In this tough and egalitarian society, women are often found in traditionally male-dominated careers, such as police work and the military.

This is heady stuff and it would have been very easy for a female writer to overplay her hand and fall into the trap of sugar-coating a sort of aggressive feminist dialogue. To her credit, Alison Morton keeps a clear head and steers confidently around the pitfalls to deliver a totally believable alternate universe where women are effectively in control but never free from their inevitable dependence on men for some gender-specific tasks, such as reproduction.

Although her characters are supremely well drawn and expertly deployed throughout the story, the cast of this epic is so large that I am thankful to the author for the list of Dramatis Personae at the beginning of the book. Karen herself is a tough young woman, not yet 25, hardened by a mother-less childhood and unloving upbringing by her dead father's cousin in Nebraska. Despite her practical and unsentimental veneer, she is vulnerable to her emotions and when she falls in love, it happens in slow motion and despite her better judgement, as her self-defence mechanism senses a danger she cannot categorize. The main male lead is a fascinating and enigmatic personality, in many ways an anti-hero, but compelling in his strong physical and psychological presence. Karen is instantly attracted to him but distrusts him. She will have ample opportunity to discover why. Karen's life-altering adventure results in satisfying self-growth but the threat to her life manifests itself again and again, even when she feels safe at last, both physically and mentally ready to defend herself. But she is being targeted beyond the remit of the original incident in the park. Her pursuer will stop at nothing to achieve her destruction and the danger always comes right out of the blue.

There is so much action and so many sub-plots that it's clear the author is only warming up her typing fingers. INCEPTIO, however complex a story, is but the first of a series of books drawing the reader into this unsettlingly plausible world. What I found fascinating is the combination of the down-to-earth, practical aptitudes of the ancient Romans, their pagan values, and the technological talent and innate survival skills of their contemporary descendants, giving Roma Nova a unique world standing, well in excess of its minute size. Not unlike Switzerland, San Marino or Luxembourg.

Although comparisons are always subjective, I was reminded of the best of Mary Stewart. You don't have to be a history buff, or even interested in ancient civilizations, to get thoroughly caught up in the flow of this well-structured, powerfully-narrated saga. Despite the strong themes, the narration remains fairly clean and suitable for the widest audience and I, personally, found it an absorbing and enjoyable read. I am more than ready for the next instalment.
15 reviews
September 22, 2018
This was an excellent book. A girl from the eastern US is forced to relocate to Roma Nova, a modern day matriarchy based on the Roman Empire. The characterization is excellent; we end up with protagonists that we care about, a love story that keeps us intrigued, and enough heart stopping action to make Ian Fleming jealous! The sociological and historical commentary i# also fascinating. I couldn’t put this down, and I immediately downloaded the rest of the series along with every book I could find by Alison Morton. She has immediately become one of my favorite authors.
736 reviews11 followers
March 2, 2019
Tough, articulate and determined; human, bewildered and sometimes anxious; Carina Mitelia is a present day hero in an alternative setting. Creating a slightly different world is one thing, staying very firmly this side of fantasy is another achievement. As Karen Brown becomes Carina Mitela, she slips from being advertising executive and volunteer park ranger into a fighter who must survive in her new role, new identity and new country. Full of physical action and subtle cultural hints, this is a novel which creates a new world order in which women rule and have to fix situations, while watching their backs for political tricks. A fascinating tale of the Roman way of life recreated for the twenty first century, this is an adventurously plotted novel in which there are mobile phones and sophisticated surveillance methods, yet the language is Latin. Self confessed “Roman nut” Alison Morton has created this novel as part of a series which pushes the boundaries of expectation, but which essentially revolves around a battle for survival. I soon became immersed in the world of Roma Nova, and I was grateful to be sent a copy of this novel to read and review, the first in the series.
Karen Brown leads a life in New York which is filled partly by her volunteer role as a patrol officer in Kew Park. When she defends an elderly man, an Indigenous, from some teenagers by some clever manoeuvres, she finds herself in trouble. As she briefly mentions in her narrative an alternative history of the United States in which the War of Independence did not happen and the British only left in 1867, the reader begins to appreciate that the subtle differences in the world order means that the orphaned young woman has a link with Roma Nova. This is a state which is made up of the ruling party of the original Roman Empire, which has survived over many centuries to retain their power via women, who are the hereditary rulers of the successful and now peaceful country. Karen is contacted by Conrad who explains that she has family links in the country, and so begins a tense period where the diplomatic and legal possibilities run alongside brutal attempts on her life. As she battles to survive, she discovers that choices are forced upon her which will mean that she accepts a whole new identity, but that she must still be on guard, and indeed take the offensive if she is to fulfil her new role.
This book for me represents the best sort of fantasy, near enough to real life to be understandable, but offering a new element of a world view to expand and allow new adventures. There is a fair amount of physical violence, and there are times when I wondered if Karen/Carina has nine lives, as she is forced to do battle to survive so many times. This is a firmly female led thriller, and though Karen is more of a victim having to be rescued to begin with, as the book proceeds she becomes her true self as she takes control. A fighter in all senses, the Carina Mitela novels and indeed their predecessors, The Aurelia Mitela adventures, feature strong women in familiar yet challenging circumstances, and I would love to read more of them.
Profile Image for Jaffareadstoo.
2,590 reviews
April 10, 2013
In present day New York, Karen Brown’s daily life is starting to unravel. When inexplicable events shake the very foundations of her world, she at first disbelieves what is happening around her. However, after a failed kidnap attempt, Karen is advised to flee to her dead mother’s homeland, but even as the mysterious Roma Nova offers a sanctuary, it also opens more questions than answers. The action is fast and furious, and soon Karen finds that she is drawn into a dangerous set of circumstances, which will test her endurance to limit and which will force her to question the structure of her belief.

What then follows is a well written and decidedly competent alternate history novel which draws you in from the very beginning and which offers an intriguing look at Roma Nova, a world which has been ruled by women for the past sixteen centuries, and whose secret anonymity comes alive on the page. Alternate history is a fascinating concept, and yet can so easily become a minefield of improbability, where the world within a world being created can become a mere parody of what is real. However, I had no such issues with Inceptio, which thanks to the author’s skill, Roma Nova and its role in the world, soon became a real and very authentic place.

I think that this is one of those books you could so easily miss, particularly if alternate history is not your genre, but you would be missing out on a real treat. It is ideal escapism, with the ingredients of history, mystery and romance expertly combined to form a well balanced and perfectly presented start to a promising series.

My thanks to Silverwood books for a review copy of this book
Profile Image for Shomeret.
1,049 reviews204 followers
August 28, 2017
I received Inceptio for free from the author through Instafreebie which doesn't require downloaders to review free books. The premise sounded fascinating, but it took me a while to get to Inceptio due to review commitments.

We follow the story of a young woman whose mother was a Roma Novan. She was born in the alternate version of the US. As the novel opens she is introduced to us as Karen Brown, but events rapidly change her sense of identity. I admired Karen for her adaptability, resourcefulness and courage.

The plot is appropriately fast paced for a thriller with a great deal of action. Morton doesn't linger to provide very many cultural references or explanations. There are Latin terms, but I found it easy to understand them from context. Aside from the setting, the events could be taking place in our 21st century. There may be variant power hierarchies, but I got the impression that this isn't really a world that's very different from our own. Modern technology is ubiquitous and societal problems are similar. I didn't feel that Roma Nova was either a utopia or a dystopia.

I enjoyed Inceptio and the evolution of its female protagonist into a strong and capable woman. I expect to continue on her journey in the remainder of the series.

For my complete review see http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2017/...
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews209 followers
December 13, 2013
My number one genre is historical novels and the Roman period in particular; and this book is fabulous! When I read that Alison's novel is described as a What if?" book and a time slip one too, I was immediately interested. The "What if?" concept fascinates me. I was absorbed from the opening line and the very first page. I almost always have about five books all on the go, but when I began this one I never stopped until I finished the last page; and I wished there had been more. Alison has written an exciting, thought provoking,intriguing and fast-paced book; about an alternative Rome that is fresh and truly original. Without giving too much away, the heroine, a modern day American girl, finds herself transported back in time to Roma Nova. Alison combines the complexity of merging the past with the future brilliantly. The balance is perfect! Her plot is perfectly executed and her main characters change and develop throughout the story line as they should. Buy this book,read it..... and you will not regret it; it's worth every penny. I absolutely loved it! One of my top books of the year! Her second novel is on my Christmas list but not sure I can wait that long! No, I'm buying Alison's second novel..."Perfiditas" this weekend.
Profile Image for Dale Amidei.
Author 17 books37 followers
March 24, 2015
A great novel is the story of a worthy character. So it is from the beginning of "Inceptio." You will meet Karen Brown and begin to watch her transformation into her natural self. An identity is revealed of which, at the onset, she knows nothing. The revelation arrives accompanied by a deadly danger.

Alison Morton's launch of her alternate history series will immerse you in an intriguing realm. The matrilineal state of Roma Nova draws the reader into its divergence built through Morton's excellent visuals. Character and setting development is distinct and effective, and the result for her reader is an engrossing world one may slip into with ease.

Karen/Carina herself is a vision of strength, one meant to find her way home. Able to meet challenge after challenge, Carina's heritage, once discovered and embraced, sends her on a journey of service fitting for a warrior and a noble. The story unfolds largely, though not exclusively, from her point of view and highlights her inherent ability to take advantage of a woman's natural resilience.

This initial title—very well written, edited and presented—will introduce you to a world you may find yourself wishing existed. It will certainly leave you ready to discover what lies ahead.
Profile Image for David Ebsworth.
Author 16 books99 followers
March 23, 2013
I grew up with alternative history but, in my case, it was the novels of Michael Moorcock that grabbed my attention. He had a real knack for creating heroes and heroines that were conflicted but always clearly "the good guys", with antagonists who were similarly complex but always the very embodiment of evil. Alsion Morton's writing style may be very different from Moorcock's but she has the same knack. Her novel INCEPTIO pits tough Karen Brown against a creepily cruel Renschman, set against the backdrop of a thriving European state called Roma Nova, which has managed to survive successfully as a lasting descendant of the Roman Empire. The author creates this alternative Europe graphically, as well as the way it has helped to shape the rest of the world - although, personally, I would have liked to know a lot more about the impact of this different geo-politics. All the same, the plot cracks on at a great pace and the action scenes plus the characters are well-drawn. Well done, Alison. Great read!
Author 19 books53 followers
March 31, 2018

"Inceptio" took me by surprise and had me hooked from the first page. I don't usually read alt-history fiction, but the story started like an ordinary thriller. Karen Brown, a twenty-something New Yorker, loses her voluntary work in the local park when she throws out a druggie who happens to be a politician's son. She shrugs off her disappointment and prepares for a date with a sexy foreigner she's met at work.

Suddenly, the tension and the strangeness of the situation are dialled up. The secret service warn her off her new squeeze. Someone is out to her kill her. Her salvation appears to lie in the (fictional) European country of Roma Nova - but when she flees there, the danger doesn't stop.

Politics, romance and high-tech gadgets all feature in this tense, twisting and engaging story, written by a former soldier. It's compelling and believable, and one of my fave books of all time.
Profile Image for Skye.
387 reviews15 followers
August 23, 2013
I'm not really one for thrillers but I fell for this one completely! the world of Roma Nova is compelling and deep, and the plot takes so many interesting twists and turns. you really care about the characters and their lives. the only thing I can think of that felt lacking was the descriptions of food! almost every time they eat its glossed over, but I know that's a personal preoccupation. still I wonder if Roma Novans are eating garum, what sort of dishes the personal chefs present to them. the restorative drink that appears frequently is one example of this being done well, but otherwise the descriptions of food are only when it is bland or unpleasant.

but despite this minor lack, I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who likes action, history, thrillers, crime, or stories about strong women finding their place in the world.
Profile Image for Kathryn Guare.
Author 12 books73 followers
December 20, 2015
This was the first time I’ve read any contemporary novels in the “alternative history” genre and it went way beyond my expectations. The book is an excellent read – a well-paced combination of crime thriller, espionage and romance. For me, the most pleasant surprise was that instead of giving us another gloomy vision of a nightmarish dystopia, the author has created a world that feels like a close cousin to our own history, with both its glories and problems. The “Eastern United States” looks pretty familiar, and Roma Nova is one of those exotic locales that would be on my bucket list if it actually existed. By the end of it I was ready to buy my Rosetta Stone course in Latin and hop a plane! I will definitely be sticking with this series.
Profile Image for Rick.
107 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2013
This is an excellent debut novel from Alison Morton. Alternate History is a difficult genre to get right but this is bang on the money; Roma Nova is a brilliant creation, well thought out and well realised on the page - I found myself wishing it really existed, it would be such a great place to visit.

The story itself is pacey with some nice twists and turns and the central characters have real personalities that keep you interested in them and the way they develop throughout the book. In particular I think this first book sets the series up well and I'm already looking forward to the next instalment. Highly recommended.
74 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2017
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review and this os what i thought.I absolutely loved this book!it was thrilling and unique,very special.I like that doesn't sits one genre but fans across a couple or more. Fantastic read!
Profile Image for Jon Abbott.
180 reviews7 followers
November 13, 2015
Awesome. What would the world be like now if a little slice of the Roman Empire survived about where Switzerland is now, and it was and always had been run as a matriarchy? Did I say awesome?
Profile Image for Angela Rigley.
Author 34 books34 followers
April 28, 2020
A great story I couldn't put down. Karen/Carina is such a tough cookie, more than I could ever imagine myself to be. Not my usual genre, I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Janice.
309 reviews10 followers
February 27, 2019
“A must-read for fans of Manda Scott and Kate Mosse” – Lisa Redmond, Madwoman in the Attic blog
INCEPTIO plunges you into a 21st century Roman world. Apart from kidnapping, heartache and a close encounter with Latin grammar, New Yorker Karen Brown must contend with a fascinating, but arrogant, Praetorian special forces officer.
And a crazy killer wants to terminate her for a very personal reason.

Karen flees to her dead mother’s homeland, Roma Nova, the last remnant of the Roman Empire. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles and now ruled by women, it gives Karen safety, a lover and a ready-made family – but at a price.

Joining a law enforcement service, Karen focuses on staying alive, but is determined to find out why the killer persists in hunting her.

Part action adventure, part military thriller, laced with romance and coming of age, this is Roman fiction brought into the 21st century through the lens of alternative history.

“The Hunger Games meets Lindsey Davis’s Roman detective Falco.”

Inceptio CoverThere’s also a touch of Princess Diaries (which gets a tongue-in-cheek mention in the book – much to my delight), and I did feel a hint of Terminator’s Sarah Connor peering over my shoulder at times! Karen Brown/Carina Mitela is not to be trifled with!

It’s my turn today on the Blog Tour for Inceptio (which takes place in the early 21st century), which cannot be boxed into any one genre – if anything, it’s as the author tells us in her Historical Note: an ‘alternative history story’. It is a unique, and extremely clever concept which can only be conceived and accomplished by one who is skilled and highly knowledgeable in both their craft and subject matter, which Alison Morton clearly is (read all about her further on). Her knowledge of history (specifically Roman history) is astounding, and she puts it to excellent use.

We first meet the unassuming Karen Brown at her weekend job as a volunteer in New York’s Kew Park – you read that right. This is a very different New York to the one we know. In fact, the USA is now the EUS – the Eastern United States. After inadvertently falling foul of the powers that be, Karen finds herself on a watchlist. Unbeknown to her though, she’s also being watched by people who have her best interests at heart and who are about to swoop in and transform her life into something she hadn’t even imagined in her wildest fantasies!

Enter the world of Roma Nova … a modern-day, Latin-speaking matriarchy that the author has created so realistically that I’m almost convinced it does exist somewhere other than in these pages! It sounds like it could be olden day Rome, but make no mistake – they have the most modern, high powered technology and they use it to the best of their ability, especially when it comes to protecting themselves. They’ve learned from history, seen other empires fall and they don’t intend for that to happen to them.

As Karen becomes part of Roma Nova, she realises she has a lot (like, A LOT) to learn – first off, she can’t speak Latin!! But she adapts well, and quickly becomes an accepted and much-loved addition to her grandmother’s (First Lady of Roma Nova) household.

But not everyone is thrilled at Karen leaving the EUS. Dark forces have followed her to her new haven with the most evil of plans. Supposedly sent by national security and political factions but with more personal intentions on his mind, a malicious criminal mind will stop at nothing to bring down the Mitela household.

With a plot that doesn’t let up, and characters who are well rounded, I found that it was Roma Nova itself that stood out for me as the life-force of this semi-fictionalised visualisation of an empire that wasn’t destroyed but was resurrected by strong female trailblazers who lead their nation with determination, vigour and sheer will.

Morton cleverly weaves magic around existing landmarks and well-known celebratory festivals so that they are recognisable, but somehow not quite as they are in their current manifestation – something’s just a bit ‘off-kilter’. In South Africa we have an expression that perfectly describes this phenomenon: ‘Same, same … but different’!

I give this 4 stars. It’s well worth reading and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. It should be noted that these books were first released in 2013 – but as with all good things, they should be shared – and so, they have recently been relaunched.
Profile Image for Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog.
424 reviews6 followers
March 1, 2019
There are very few Authors who can take something from the Past and creat something wholly new, something engaging and fun that has you wanting to turn the pages, using previous situations in a way that not only makes you wish to visit, but leaves you feeling as though you already have. And yet, that is precisely what this Author has managed.

I really did enjoy reading this, it had me engaged and wondering what would happen next with each new page. I enjoyed following Karen/Cara etc through this story, seeing how she changed and grew throughout the tale, how she adapted to her new situations she was faced with. Starting a new life can be complicated, and I adored how the Author wove this in with gorgeous descriptions of the Roman culture and scenery.

The recreations were wonderfully done and the explanations of all the emotions that having to change your life so entirely can result in were not only believable, they were so well done it made me feel as though I had been with Karen throughout.

The story is full of wonderful action, fast paced and unpredictable in the variety of scenarios, and how each one turns out. The twists and turns were a lot of fun! I can’t wait to see what happens in the second book 😍
Profile Image for Paula Lofting.
Author 7 books85 followers
March 14, 2016
Karen Brown has been living out her life as a normal young working woman in New York until a sequence of mysterious events turn her life into what can only be compared to a spy thriller. Slowly, the jigsaw of her life is revealed to her and she struggles to make the pieces fit the whole picture; but before Karen can accomplish this, she is suddenly thrust, without any warning, into a whole new dimension of reality – one she had not had any time to prepare for. Learning the secrets of her family, she realises that her life will never be the same again and her importance in the world is not only of great interest of those that seek to protect her, but also of those who would seek to destroy her.

INCEPTIO is not an alternative history novel in the usual sense, more, it is set in a modern alternative world that is the product of an alternative historical creation that Ms Morton has produced. Roma Nova is a believable country with a very unique backdrop. I enjoyed the way that every aspect of this world slotted into the ancient infrastructure carried over from Rome. I loved to see the Praetorian Guard was still active after all this time. Roma Nova is exactly how I would imagine Rome would be now if it had indeed survived, the only difference is that rather than being a patriarchal society it is run by women. Ms Morton’s concept for the book had its seeds in her early years and her love of all things Roman is evident in her creation of this imagined world. The idea of the embedded story line of Karen being the lost grandchild waiting to inherit a fortune she did not realise was hers and her sudden transportation to a strange new homeland that could trace its foundations back to ancient times, is a marvellous conception and can only have come from a very creative mind.
It takes awhile to get to know the characters and as this book is written from the first person and involves a large cast, it makes it even harder. Carina/Karen is somewhat complex and at times I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so stubborn but too be fair, I would be quite afraid to shake her, as she is an amazing fighter and can take down a man with ease. She does however get a good knocking about herself, so much so that I wondered how she would still be able to walk again! But that is the world that she becomes part of, a world where one has to be physically strong in order to survive and fight. But she does have a sensual side to her though we usually only see that in the bedroom. By the time I got to the end of the book, my feelings were still unsure about her and any of the other characters.

All this aside, this is a fast paced thriller and it leaves the starting line with a bang, then slows its pace somewhat in the middle, perhaps losing its tempo too much, but then it begins to gather speed and momentum as the excitement picks up once more as it reaches the plot’s climax.

I wanted to give this book 3.5 stars as INCEPTIO is a good read, its unique concept makes it special and the reader will be looking forward to more of Karen’s adventures, which is fortune as the sequel, PERFIDITAS is now available. You will enjoy this book especially if you are into spy thrillers like Jack Reacher and there is a touch of Dan Brown also in the style.

Profile Image for Philip.
30 reviews27 followers
June 9, 2013
I enjoyed Alison Morton's INCEPTIO. The only reason I'm giving it four stars is because I'm expecting even better things of the later books in her series and I'm keeping five stars in reserve.

I bought the paperback edition of INCEPTIO. Its font is highly legible and the paper and binding of very good quality. The chapters are headed in Roman Numerals (what else?) and there are a lot of them because Alison has written a fast-paced, page-turner thriller. The brevity of most chapters keeps the narrative moving along like a chariot at the amphitheatre. It is structured into four parts. I normally pace my reading to one or two chapters per evening but by Part 2, sorry, Part II, I was hooked and finished the book in a long holiday session.

I've enjoyed Alternate Histories since I read and loved Keith Robert's PAVANE. INCEPTIO is a noble, nay, imperial addition to the genre. Unlike the former, INCEPTIO is structured as a thriller; it would make an excellent action movie. The alternative history is self-consistent without being too logical; only artificial worlds are constructed to make sense, after all. Alison explains the background in a preface, and in short references where appropriate throughout the book but that does not interfere with the development of the story. A useful Dramatis Personae is included for those of us who have few Ancient Roman friends on Facebook.

Alison's present differs from ours as a result of changes that took place in the dying days of the Roman Empire. The Empire falls, but a kernel survives in its Alpine fastness. The Roman families that sought refuge there are matriarchal, and Alison paints an interesting portrait of a society based on matriarchal Roman values that has evolved over the last two millennia in ways parallel but not identical to our civilisation. Gladiatorial contests are still esteemed in Roma Nova though they rarely involve fights to the death. While matriarchal, the society still retains many of the assertive elements of Ancient Roman culture compared to Ancient Greece, but has mellowed with time as Europe has mellowed in comparison to brash young America. Or the Eastern United States as the location of the opening action is known in this timeline.

I shan't delve in detail into the adventures that befall Karen Brown as her eyes are opened but they are wide-ranging, geographically, emotionally and sexually. The tension is maintained to the end. Some puzzles are resolved after being well disguised en-route (exactly why does her antagonist feel so strongly motivated that he risks all to kill Karen). Others, such as the criminal master-mind's reasons for supporting her are left to the reader's imagination (or may perhaps be clarified in later books?).

A worthy début by Alison, I believe; INCEPTIO is the first in what promises to be an entertaining series. Buy and enjoy it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.