A great opening line, to make the reader do an instant double-take, on a par with the one caused by the clock striking thirteen in George Orwell’s “1984″. Kew Park, as in London’s Kew Gardens, not Central Park? – how did that happen? I was immediately drawn in to this intriguing alternative history scenario.
And what a premise it was! – that ancient Roman society and culture was not extinguished with the fall of the Roman Empire but transferred by a small determined group of traditionalists to a new territory, Roma Nova, north of Italy, where it still survives to the present day. The development of what we call the USA has also taken a rather different course, and that’s where the story begins, before crossing the pond to Roma Nova. (I’ll be intrigued to see what American readers make of this concept, by the way!)
Though still speaking Latin, the Nova Romans are far from untouched by 21st century life, operating futuristic technology, and populated by fatigue-wearing, gun-toting copes who fight to maintain the integrity of their nation’s principles and traditions. (Their Saturnalia celebrations are a great draw for the tourists, apparently, Well, I’d want to go, wouldn’t you?)
What kept me turning the pages was the pacy story of a heroine who overcomes an extraordinary set of challenges, with just enough romantic interest thrown in to add an extra dimension without slowing the action. It put me in mind of Pompeii by the great Robert Harris.
By chance, I took this book to read on a holiday in the tiny principality of Luxembourg, fiercely proud of its individuality and its heritage, despite being surrounded by much larger, more powerful states. I found myself thinking, in an unguarded moment, that Luxembourg should be on good diplomatic terms with Roma Nova. For a moment there, I’d believed it was real and was half-way to planning my next holiday there.
If you enjoy this book (and I’m sure you will), you’ll be pleased to know that it’s the first in a series. I’ve enjoyed Books 2 and 3 already (Perfiditas and Successio), and I’ll post those reviews up here shortly. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the publication of Book 4, Aurelia, which is coming soon. Always good news to discover a book you love is the first in a series!
I recommend Inceptio to anyone interested in ancient Rome, modern thrillers, interesting alternative history novels, and girl power!
To find out more about Alison Morton, visit her author website is www.alison-morton.com.