This was a super slow read.
I bought this at a book swap, not realizing it was the fourth book in this series. The series follows a physician in the Roman army under the rule of Hadrian. At one point the medicus, Ruso, was an investigator but has resumed his job as physician. He is stationed in what is now England with a native wife and a habit for getting in trouble. Numerous references are made to his previous issues and problems with authority but none are explained, apparently assuming that the readers will not start with this particular book.
I’m not sure if this book would have been more interesting if I had read the previous three in the series, but I am certain it would have made a lot more sense. Honestly, the plot was both bare bones and very difficult to follow. Ruso is stationed in a new city for a very temporary stay but I can’t even recall why or perhaps never understood it. He immediately determines that the native soldiers are dying or being maimed more than he would expect for basic training and sets out to investigate but repeatedly oversteps his bounds. He is jailed somewhere between three and five times during the second half of the book, I couldn’t keep track. Those imprisonments either spanned two days or a matter of weeks; again, I couldn’t keep track. The secondary characters are also difficult to keep track of, particular the native women who all seem to blend together. The culmination of the book, a hostage situation involving the empress, should have been exciting and instead was convoluted and difficult to parse. I had to re-read several times to figure out which character was in which room (in a set of two rooms).
I won’t be catching up on the first three books.