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 and, left on her own, gets into all sorts of trouble physically and emotionally; he’s under orders to reorganize the post’s frontline infirmary which appears to be under the hand of an insane doctor and an inept pharmacist; and, the head of Tilla’s family is offering her in marriage to Ruso IF he can come up with a dowry.
A man with more heart than head, Ruso’s biggest distraction is Tilla: her attraction to an old sweetheart as well as the threat posed her by his own people.
I love how Downie makes us feel the weather and the taste of the food while the dialog is quite believable although I would have liked more tension at the end when Ruso is heading back to Deva; it was too easy. As for Downie’s malevolent plotting with Catavignus and Metullus—lord, where…how does she come up with such evil ideas!
Downie has created an array of characters with intriguing depths and issues that I can only hope we encounter them again to see how their lives turn out…let alone how they’ll affect Ruso and Tilla. I’ll be reading Persona Non Grata just as soon as I get home!