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Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire

(Medicus Investigation #5)

by
4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,662 ratings  ·  170 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
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 8th 2013)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  1,662 ratings  ·  170 reviews


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S.J.A. Turney
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Claudia
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  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Terence
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
...more
Jane
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.
Jean
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)
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
...more
Monica Hills
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.
Eden
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
Marty
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
D.G.
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
...more
Paulette
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.
Joy
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.
Sandi
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.
Kat
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
...more
Katherine
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
...more
Shane
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
Melanie
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Robd
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Baelor
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
H Gibson
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dawn Bozuhoski
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
...more
Freddie Silva
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
D.L. Morrese
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nightwitch
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
Ian
Our good Dr finds himself tied to the end of a wagon and being led to his death for the murder of a centurion. Unsurprisingly, as there are more novels extant in the series, he avoids this fate. Thanks to his barbarian wife, his friend and colleague Valens, and the emperor Hadrian, the true murderer is discovered, then hidden, and the crime turned into a suicide in order to protect a Praetorian conspiracy that led to the murder. Against a background of mistreated British recruits to the army. Al ...more
K
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Ruth Downie's characters - Ruso, the Medicus, (doctor to the Roman Legions in Britain) and his wife - Tilla - a native Briton Ruso purchased from a slaver, are two of my favorite characters in fiction. This series of books is always enjoyable, and after reading 5 of Downie's Medicus series, my understanding of this period of Roman British history has increased considerably. I highly recommend.
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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
...more

Other books in the series

Medicus Investigation (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)

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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).
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