Cover image for Tabula rasa
Tabula rasa
Downie, Ruth, 1955- , author.
Publication Information:
[Old Saybrook, Connecticut] : Tantor Audio, [2014]

Physical Description:
9 audio discs (10.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
The medicus Ruso and his wife Tilla are back in the borderlands of Britannia, this time helping to tend to the builders of Hadrian's Great Wall. Having been forced to move off their land, the Britons are distinctly on edge and are still smarting from the failure of a recent rebellion that claimed many lives. When Ruso's recently arrived clerk, Candidus, goes missing, tensions increase. Then a local boy also vanishes, and Ruso and Tilla discover an intricate scheme involving slavery, changed identities, and fur trappers.
General Note:
Compact discs.

Duration: 10:30:00.
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Format :
Audiobook on CD


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The medicus Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are back in the borderlands of Britannia, this time helping to tend the builders of Hadrian's Great Wall. Having been forced to move off their land, the Britons are distinctly on edge. Then Ruso's recently arrived clerk, Candidus, goes missing. A native boy thinks he sees a body being hidden inside the wall's half-finished stonework, and a worrying rumor begins to spread. When soldiers ransack the nearby farms looking for Candidus, Tilla's tentative friendship with a local family turns to anger and disappointment. Tensions only increase when Branan, the family's youngest son, also vanishes. As Ruso and Tilla try to solve the mystery of the two disappearances-while at the same time struggling to keep the peace between the Britons and the Romans-an intricate scheme involving slavery, changed identities, and fur trappers emerges, and it becomes imperative that Ruso find Branan before it's too late.

Author Notes

In 2004, Ruth Downie won the Fay Weldon section of BBC3's End of Story competition. She is the author of the highly acclaimed Roman Empire series.
Simon Vance has recorded over four hundred audiobooks and has earned over twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for his narration of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. He is also the recipient of five coveted Audie Awards, including one for The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, and he was named an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The sixth Gaius Petreius Ruso novel finds the second-century-CE Roman medic and amateur sleuth working at the site of the great wall being built in Britannia under the auspices of the emperor Hadrian. Tensions between the native Britons and the Roman legions are running hot, with bigotry starting to trend toward violence. When a local boy says he knows of a body buried inside the wall, apparently put there while the person was still alive, speculation of murder and cover-up escalate. Also, Ruso's clerk has gone missing not unusual in itself, given the fellow's lackadaisical work ethic but a second disappearance, this one involving a local family with whom Tilla, Ruso's native-born wife, has become friendly, makes Ruso wonder if something nefarious is going on. Written in simple, unadorned prose (no awkward attempts to ape period style), the book is a pleasure to read. The Ruso series might not be as well known as, say, Lindsey Davis' longer-running Marcus Didius Falsco series, but it's just as entertaining.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Downie's sixth whodunit set in second-century Britannia (after 2013's Semper Fidelis) immediately transports the reader to another time and place with an evocative description of work on Hadrian's Wall in the midst of an unrelenting rainstorm ("It was easy to believe that the rain threw itself at you personally; hard not to feel persecuted and aggrieved when it found its way into your boots no matter how much grease you slathered on them"). When Candidus, Roman medico Gaius Ruso's new clerk, goes missing, Ruso uses his many connections-he's rumored to be personally acquainted with Emperor Hadrian, and is married to a local, Tilla, whose relatives view him, understandably, with distrust-to find out what happened to Candidus. While the mystery itself isn't one of the author's more gripping, the book plausibly depicts life in Roman Britain and tensions between the occupiers and the occupied. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

In his sixth outing (after Semper Fidelis), intrepid medicus Gaius Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are back in northern Britannia, enduring the cold and rain of late autumn in the shadow of Hadrian's Wall. In fairly short order two people go missing--Candidus, -Ruso's clerk, and a nine-year-old British boy. Tempers flare as it is reported the boy was abducted by one of the soldiers. Ruso and Tilla grow increasingly frustrated as they try to solve the two mysteries while keeping the fragile peace between the Romans and native Britons. VERDICT Like the other titles in the series, Downie's latest mixes an engaging story line, provocative characters, and a satisfying evocation of time and place. The minor and major threads merge seamlessly at the end, providing a satisfying conclusion for (almost) everyone. Series fans and Roman history buffs will enjoy this page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]-Pam O'Sullivan, Coll. at Brockport Lib., SUNY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.