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Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire (Medicus Investigation #5)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,172 Ratings  ·  136 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 preyi ...more
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Published March 4th 2013 by Tantor Media (first published January 8th 2013)
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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
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.
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like old friends come to visit.

I’ve missed Ruso and Tilla, and I am so glad to spend time with them once again. Ruth Downie’s thoroughly likeable characters are back, and nothing has changed. Tilla’s advocacy for her native countrymen will inevitably cause troubles for Ruso. Ruso has rejoined the 20th legion and not all is well, the native recruits are suffering from “accidents” and unexplained deaths, is the 20th legion cursed? What does the Centurion Germius have to do with this? Is the Tribun
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
The hero is Ruso, a doctor in the military whose career is fraught with change. His wife, Tilla, is outspoken and wants to learn to read and become a medico. They travel with Rome's Twentieth Legion and discover that mysterious deaths, injuries and fear pervades all the recruits from Britannia. The Roman officers do not respect the recruits and believe that the recruits just need discipline - discipline that causes death, injury and fear?

Can things get any worse? Ruso has been stripped of his r
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rome, mystery
Reread July 2017

Read September 2014
This might very well be my favorite of the series. The story is straightforward but well-crafted and poignant; for much of the book the mystery isn't who the baddie is, but rather how Ruso and Tilla (whose relationship continues to develop beautifully) will convince the authorities and see justice done. I admit I enjoyed the chapters from the Empress Sabina's perspective the least, but since I read the book in one sitting, staying up till 2am to finish, I can't
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.
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.
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
Kathy Davie
Fifth in the Gaius Petreius Ruso, a.k.a., Medicus, historical mystery series based in 122 A.D. York, England.

My Take
It was a bit of a shock to learn that Ruso was back with the army. Although, events in Caveat Emptor , 4 may well have made it seem like the safer choice, LOL. I'm not sure if it was Tilla's boredom or the family that encouraged Ruso to go back!

Do read the character list at the start of the book. Downie has been clever, and it's a fun read. Even more fun is how skeptical Tilla i
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to find and start a new mystery series, but my overall impression is "meh" - don't hate it but certainly don't love it either. This isn't bad, it's actually better than most that are called "cozy mysteries." The writing itself, the actual craftsmanship, is much better than what you usually find in the "cozy mystery" genre. Unfortunately it isn't what I was hoping for either. There's potential, but everything - plotting, characterization, setting - stays flat at "good" and not great ...more
Stacy Koster
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love these books! The narrator of the audiobooks is great. I love hearing about Tila and Russo's adventures.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eboracum 122 n. Chr. Ruso hat wieder einen Job als medizinischer Offizier bei seiner alten Legion und nach seinem Aushilfsjob als Detektiv in Londinium, will Gaius Petreius Ruso nur noch zwei Dinge, Ruhe und als Arzt arbeiten und Leute zusammenflicken. Tilla steht ihm dabei als Hebamme und Krankenschwester zur Seite, wenn er Privatpatienten behandelt. Da jedoch Kaiser Hadrian seinen Besuch angekündigt hat, beschließt Ruso diesem Stresse einfach aus dem Weg zu gehen, und die Armeekrankenhäuser se ...more
S.J.A. Turney
Oct 21, 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
Ken Kugler
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruso and Tilla are once again doing a dance they do so well. The author,Ruth Downie, has and created two wonderful characters that are growing more in love. Ruso, especially, is learning that the Britons are people that are less different from the Romans that most Romans think.
In this book, Ruso is placed with the twentieth Roman Legion who are awaiting the arrival of the Emperor Hadrian’s arrival at Eboracum, modern day York. From the first instant there is death, suicide and curses. Roman Legi
Eustacia Tan
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I almost didn't get to read this book. I requested it from NetGalley, then it got archived. Then, it somehow got unarchived. But I'm not going to question that. I'll take my books when I get them.

So, Semper Fidelis (which, from what I understand, is Latin for "Always Loyal") is this Roman-era mystery set in Britain. It follows Russo, a medical officer who's investigating (against orders) the mysterious deaths of several recruits. Helping, or hindering, depending on what you think, is his native-
Jean Poulos
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
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I like the most about these books is the interplay between Ruso and Tilla. Ruso keeps letting his ethics draw him into situations that he'd be better off not knowing about, and Tilla, with her strong sense of justice, pushes him on. Tilla also has a sense of pragmatic self-preservation much stronger than Ruso's, and a lack of communication between them at critical points is what fuels the plot of this novel.

There's a rather convoluted plot about suspiciously dead British recruits to the Rom
This is a most entertaining series and while it's usually difficult to pin down the words or actions that give you the feeling of a modern story the feeling is definitely there. I particularly like the exasperation that Ruso experiences with Tilla and the way he refrains from reacting the way most husbands of the period would have because he keeps telling himself that "she means well, and doesn't understand the situation."
In this book I don't quite understand, either. Each level of officer was r
Kathy Trueman
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fifth book in the Medicus series is an emotional wringer for we lovers of poor Ruso. All the troubles he's been laden with pale in comparison to this one, in which, among other things, he ends up cleaning latrines, divorcing Tilla, and imprisoned for murder. Don't panic, all turns out well, but I admit to doing a lot of nail-biting. Ruth Downie has taken a leap forward in this book, which has a less twisted and far more suspenseful plot than the first four books.

Ruso's back with his Legion
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the next Ruso mystery for quite a while new. So when I heard about Semper Fidelis, I ordered it as soon as I was done with my patented Happy Dance ™. Unfortunately, it seems that once again underestimated the selling power of any book that doesn’t feature a teenager marrying a sparkly vampire and, as with The Fault In Our Stars, I got my copy quite late (though, to be fair, I didn’t pre-order this time).

I really enjoyed Semper Fildelis. It foll
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Downie’s SEMPER FIDELIS entwines the reader into a Roman Empire mystery filled with political intrigue.

Ruso thinks being a doctor with the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain would be a good change from his investigator days. But no matter where he goes, mystery follows. A slew of injuries and deaths have the legion feeling as if it is cursed. Ruso just can’t believe it, so he investigates against orders. While his wife Tilla does the same, the two are caught in a web of lies. As Emp
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Elizabeth Peters, historical mystery lovers
**edited 01/24/14

I'm still not exactly sure how Roman army medicus Gaius Petreius Ruso made it out of the last book's frying pan, but in Semper Fidelis, with a little prodding from his British wife Tilla, he plummets right back into the fire. Travelling back from his hometown in Gaul with Tilla in tow, Ruso is briefly posted as medicus to the 20th legion, which is already gaining a reputation for unluckiness--and that's before it is landed with the hapless Ruso. Ruso quickly discovers that luck
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. Downie's grasp on the workings of institutions dovetails nicely with her passion for British history, providing an interesting critique of the army, and it's relationship with those it has effectively conquered, all through the lens of a military operates.
I'm impressed with how long Downie has let the infertility story slow burn: I had expected a pat solution by now. It can be a delicate topic in fiction (Cough, Black Widow, cough) - strong women in fiction
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaius Petreius Ruso is a Roman medicus (doctor) in the province of Britannia during the time of Emperor Hadrian. He's inspecting the medical care in Roman outposts and forts near the northern border. The emperor has ordered a wall to be built separating the unconquered territory (modern day Scotland) from conquered Britannia. There is unrest among the recruits stationed in the fort that he's currently inspecting and he's quickly drawn into several mysterious deaths among the troops. No one wants ...more
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Ruth is the author of seven mysteries* featuring Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso. The latest is VITA BREVIS. 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
More about Ruth Downie...

Other Books in the Series

Medicus Investigation (7 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)

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“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
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