June 2, 2013
Fortunately, I am not in that situation with this book!
When Alison Morton approached me last winter and offered to send me a copy of Inceptio when it was published, I was intrigued by the concept. This book is considered to be "Alternative History". What if the Roman Empire hadn't fallen? What if a faction had left Rome and settled in a corner of Europe, and had created an independent country which had survived and thrived through to today? I have to say that the Roman period of history has fascinated me since I was young and exposed to novels like Eagle of the Ninth. In high school, I wanted to learn Latin (my school had the only Latin teacher left in the school board), but I was the only one in the school who wanted to learn Latin and so the class was cancelled. And so I agreed to receive a copy of this book for review.
It did take me a bit to get into, but I blame this on the fact that I started reading it in the evenings while sleeping in a tent on a weekend filled with 12-hour days of meetings. When I was able to start reading it for real this week, I was hooked. I blame this book for too many nights this week spent up waaaay too late reading, since I couldn't put this book down.
The main character, Karen Brown / Carina Mitela has lived her whole life in the country of Eastern United States. Both of her parents are dead, and she is very self-sufficient in New York City. But then her world starts falling apart as she is fired due to corruption from the volunteer position that gives meaning to her life; and all of a sudden her life is being threatened. She then discovers that she can renounce her EUS citizenship and become a citizen of Roma Nova as her mother was from Roma Nova, and she is her grandmother's heir.
I was fascinated with the Roma Nova society. It is matriarchal - the women have the power, and the eldest female inherits from her mother. There are elements from ancient Roman society that have carried over, including the gods and the festivals and the language (Latin isn't dead after all!); and yes, prisoners of the state are sentenced to hard labour in the silver mines. It is a very hierarchical society, and Karen is lucky to have been born into the top layer; however the genders are treated equally, with maybe a slight preference towards females.
And speaking of females, let me say that Karen / Carina was an awesome heroine! She takes charge of her own life and she does things her way rather than being a pawn - she is a kick-ass (literally, at times) character as she trains her body and her mind and rises to the top of the Roma Nova military (the Praetorian Guard Special Forces).
If I had one complaint about this book it would be that it is almost too action-packed. It almost felt like 3 or 4 books crammed into one. Some stretching out of the time in between the action or description of normal day-to-day life in Roma Nova would have been nice.
I was, however, excited to read at the end of the book that there is a second book in the series planned - Perfiditas.
Thank you, Alison Morton for writing this book and for sending me a copy! It was a treat to read a book that was well written, imaginative, and gripping all in one.