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Book V

Semper Fidelis

“This latest installment in the best-selling series will delight readers of history, mystery, and popular fiction.” -Library Journal

“I had trouble putting it down at night… Highly recommended.” - Historical Novel Society

1-SemperFidelisRuso, back with the 20th Legion, is doing his best to avoid all the hullaballoo surrounding the visit of the Emperor Hadrian and his wife, the unimpressed Empress Sabina.  Ruso slips away to the underused fortress of Eboracum (modern York), only to find that things are going seriously wrong there for the Legion’s British recruits. It’s not long before he and Tilla realise they’ve picked a dangerous place to hide.

Mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers. Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Can the much- decorated Centurion Geminus really be preying on his weaker soldiers? And with Hadrian on the way, will anyone care?

 “Downie injects a modern who-done-it twist into the imperial action.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A new Ruso novel by Ruth Downie is a long-awaited treat… For an established fan of the series, Semper Fidelis is up there with the best of them; for a newcomer, possibly seeking to supplement Lindsey Davis’s visits to ancient Rome in the company of Falco, it stands sufficiently alone to be enjoyed for itself, and also whets the appetite for the previous four… with a huge amount of historical research woven in with such a light hand that you’ll hardly notice you’re being educated as well as entertained.” – Lynne Patrick, in Mystery People magazine

“Again Downie has given us a mystery with twists and turns that keep readers guessing until almost the very end.” – Roman Times

SEMPER FIDELIS was a “Librarian Pick” in the Macmillan Library Newsletter

ISBN-13: 978-160819-709-5

22 comments

  1. Just got the audio version, released yesterday. Halfway through already. Simon Vance IS Ruso, as always…just wonderful and well worth the wait!!!


    • Ah, that’s good news – thanks, Laurie. I’ll now try and remember the various bits of the blog I need to update…


  2. I’m almost finished with the Kindle edition. Did the movie “A Few Good Men” inspire any of this story? And the title is the motto of the US Marines. I’m waiting for someone to say “You can’t handle the truth!”


  3. Hi Bob,
    I’m sure “A Few Good Men” must be lurking in there somewhere, although it’s many years since I saw the film. The title was a coincidence – I’m afraid in my ignorance I had no idea that it was the Marines’ motto, but I certainly know now!

    What consciously influenced the story was the deaths of several recruits some years ago at an infamous training centre called Deepcut Barracks. Subsequent enquiries revealed a culture of bullying that must have been dreadful not only for the recruits but for their families, who were powerless to protect them. As we have friends whose little babies are now putting on uniforms and being flown off to war zones, I found this profoundly disturbing. I suspect there’s a very thin line between necessary ‘toughening up’ and plain meanness, and that’s what I wanted Ruso to explore.

    And indeed, several people in the story can’t handle the truth!


  4. Now what about Book VI?

    Can we hope for another Ruso adventure in time for Christmas?

    Btw, it’s tiresome to toggle between Amazon US and Amazon UK to find out when your books will be available. I am not privy to the complexities of publishers and marketing rights, but I do wish that the publishers would get their act together!

    For now, I am relying on the Fantastic Fiction website to find out what new books are coming out and when.


    • Hi PJ,
      Book VI – er yes, you may well ask! And it’s very kind of you to do so. It won’t be ready for Christmas, I’m afraid. There are suggestions of August 2014 in the US, but that’s not written in stone. At the moment it’s in the hands of the editor, and I’m expecting to have to make extensive revisions. Apart from what the Editor says, there is no better way to help realise what you SHOULD have written than to press the “send” button.

      I’m extremely grateful to you for persevering through the complexities of release dates and can only apologise about the nuisance of the US/UK split. It drives me crackers too. I’m hoping things will improve before long. Meanwhile I’m glad Fantastic Fiction is useful.
      Ruth
      PS at least the titles will be the same for Book 5 onwards. Thank goodness.


  5. Dedicated fan here……….

    Only two “real” addictions……..Ruso and Tilla’s adventures and Starbucks’ Frappuccino!

    Ah, how well they go together1

    B. Johnston, Austin, TX. USA


    • Thank you Barbara! Have to admit I wonder how the Romans managed without coffee…


  6. What a wonderful series! Thank you for writing it. I am currently reading the last book Semper Fidelis after consuming the first four last month. Are there any plans soon to bring your series to film? Perhaps a cable series would be the best avenue. I wonder who would you like to see play Ruso and Tilla?


    • Thank you Juan – it’s lovely to know you’ve enjoyed the books! I suspect the only plans to bring Ruso and Tilla to the screen are the ones in my own wildest dreams, but you never know… I’ve been asked before who I’d like to see play Ruso and Tilla and to be honest I don’t know the answer. It was interesting when the question was widened out into a discussion on Facebook, though. Not only did it reveal my appalling ignorance of current actors, but it turns out people picture them very differently. It became clear that whoever was chosen, somebody would be disappointed. So maybe it’s not a bad thing that, for now, they remain as words rather than images, and we’re all free to imagine them however we want.


  7. Who should play Ruso in a TV series/movie? Who else but he of the chocolate/velvet voice but Simon Vance. And he is dishy as well. Tilla? Have to give that some thought.

    B. Johnston, Austin, TX


    • Y’know that had never occurred to me! He successfully plays every character in the audio, but that might look rather odd on screen.


  8. My bookstore recommended R.Downie based on my other selections, so I bought them all. I sat down to start one and when the the alarm went off the next morning I was still in the midst of the series. I don’t know what I did that day until I got home to finish the books off. Great writing, developing, humour, etc etc etc… Thank you. Suzan


    • Suzan, thanks so much for taking the time to drop by – I’m delighted to know that you enjoyed the books and hope you’ve managed to catch up on the sleep!
      (Apologies if I’ve replied twice to your comment: I’m using the phone rather than the PC and the layout is all a bit of a mystery.)


  9. I have thoroughly enjoyed all 5 books and look forward to a 6th in this series.


    • Thank you Mike. There’s a new book with the editor at the moment and it should be out next summer. It’ll be called “Tabula rasa”.


      • As you can see from today’s date, I haven’t been back to check this thread in awhile. However, you have made my day!! Thank you and please keep writing.


  10. A pleasure, Mike…


  11. I love Tilla and Ruso!!! In 2008 I travelled to Europe and read Terra Incognita on the plane. I hope the VI book will be available in August as I am heading for Europe again this Sept and would love to keep the tradition going.


    • Hi Lucy,
      Good to hear from you. As far as I know, TABULA RASA will be released in the US early August – so I’m guessing you should be able to import a copy in time for the flight. Enjoy your trip! (Meanwhile, I must get on with proofreading it…)


  12. Ruth!

    I just finished Semper Fidelis. As with your first four Russo novels, I was entertained and enjoyed your skill as an author and a spinner of tales – well done!

    I so enjoy the Tilla character. I love strong female characters and Darludica certainly fits the bill. The loving conflict between Russo and Tilla adds a wonderful layer to your historical fiction crime novels. A
    s does the Valins – Russo relationship. Your writing makes me laugh out loud and I so love it.

    Clearly, I can read faster than you can write. So, like many of your legions of fans, I look forward to Tabula Rasa with great anticipation.
    I have a question. Why the different titles on either side of the pond?

    Cheers! Jamie Dodson, from across the Pond ….


    • Hi Jamie,
      You’re almost at end of the current supply of stories! Just Tabula Rasa to go now.
      The two titles thing goes back to the very start of the series when it was taken on by different publishers in the UK and the
      US. The two editors couldn’t agree on a title that would work for both sets of readers and in the end we agreed to go ahead with different approaches. I wish I had a pound for every time I’ve regretted that decision! As the Internet has made everything visible everywhere it’s caused quite a bit of confusion.



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