Independent reviews - AURELIA

A few reviews of AURELIA from non-retailer sites to give you a flavour…

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite – 15 September 2019

Aurelia is the first entry in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova thriller series by Alison Morton – a compelling thriller with powerful underpinnings of espionage and a sophisticated and strong female protagonist. Set against a riveting political backdrop in the 1960s, the story follows Aurelia Mitela who was once a Praetorian Officer, now trained as an undercover agent. Entrusted with a new mission to investigate silver smuggling in Berlin, she finds herself in dire straits when her path crosses with her archenemy, Caius Tellus, who will stop at nothing to see her dead. Aurelia may be confident that she can outwit this enemy, but he is about to play an even more lethal blow, going for her most vulnerable part — her young daughter.

This is a wonderful opening for a series that will have readers spellbound, a narrative with an appeal for readers with different tastes, melding the fine craft of a spy thriller with the sophisticated characters in mystery, and the fascinating setting of a historical novel. Alison Morton has a great gift for character and it is exemplified in this novel, with characters like the mysterious smuggler, Miklós, having indispensable roles that help to flesh out the story. The story is told in a strong and powerful voice and in prose that is captivating. The story has strong plot elements and it takes readers to exciting places and dramatic encounters, with narrow escapes and breathtaking, emotionally charged moments. This is a novel with a strong appeal for fans of thrillers; balanced and deftly written.


From ‘Made-Up Book Reviews’ – 6 June 2019

This was my second venture into the Author’s work, and having enjoyed “Inceptio” immensely I was excited when offered a chance to read this as well.

Getting stuck into this was certainly an easy thing to do! The Author creates gripping scenes from start to end that leave the reader feeing like they’ve taken a trip through time and space. Several times while reading somebody would speak to me and I sat for a moment staring at them in incomprehension because I had to take the time to get my brain out of the scene. Certainly a talent from the author, though perhaps not always convenient 🤣

I love the fact that this Author created strong, individual female Characters that are not counterbalanced by fussing over their appearance or regularly needing to be saved. So many ‘strong’ females are written in such a way and it never ceases to irritate. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with femininity, but sometimes it’s refreshing to have a character who doesn’t need to giggle and sigh to be female.

The story is quick paced with a vast variety or scenes and scenarios to keep the reader guessing, while maintaining an air of plausibility and consistently building tension and excitement. If you haven’t read a book from Roma Nova yet, you really should.

The Characters are powerfully memorable and the stories relaxingly complex. Yes, seems an odd thing to say doesn’t it? I get that. But it’s the only way I can think to describe this book. The story goes in unexpected directions, and yet it’s easy to read to the point you intend a chapter and realise you’ve read 3/4 of the book. Yup. And have a cold coffee…. perhaps drink cold drinks with this one 🤣

If you haven’t yet discovered Roma Nova… WHY NOT?!


From K.J.’s Atheneum – September 7, 2019

Ex-Praetorian officer Aurelia Mitela regretted ever thinking she was bored. Following reviewher mother’s death, she is forced to take care of matters. But such a life was not becoming of her. When the opportunity to be retrained as an undercover operative is placed before her it is a chance she could not resist. her familial ties put her in the unique position to be able to investigate a smuggling ring, an opportunity which allows her to realign with the person she wanted to be. Unaware of the dangers she would bring upon herself and her family she delves deeper into the investigation, determined to expose the guilty party, but when someone finds the means to exploit her, she has some difficult choices to make, country, duty, or family.

Aurelia is part of Alison Morton’s Nova Roma thriller series. Interesting twists will keep a reader engaged as they become invested in the well-developed characters, Aurelia the main protagonist is perfectly complemented by the challenging antagonist. Morton’s world-building shows insight into how times may have been different if history had moved in an alternative direction, and her descriptions suggest she has good knowledge and understanding of key areas, all which enhance the feeling of reality injected into the complex and thoughtful story arcs. Action, mystery, and adventure drive this steady paced plot forward as divided between duty, country, and family Aurelia is forced to make difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching, choices. I enjoyed watching her character change and alter as her investigation takes interesting and life-threatening twists. Those who enjoy strong female leads and in a 1960 alternative history setting are bound to enjoy every moment of this tale.


From Lissa Johnston, Goodreads reader – 5 January 2017
“I wish I could remember how this book came to my attention. It’s in the middle of a series, but I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on. It was very self-contained.

Aurelia is a very enjoyable read for a couple of reasons. One: the author did a great job creating a 20th century iteration of ancient Roman culture and tradition. It was subtle (substituting several of the Roman gods as mild expletives rather than using God/god is one of many examples) but effective. Two: the book is very female-centric. The author has created a world in which women run the show, which of course I liked very much LOL. In addition, there are several instances where gender is ignored (using ‘partner’ rather than ‘husband’ or ‘wife’) or situationally flipped on its head (an admin wondering what will be come of the pool of male typing clerks once computer technology replaces them).

Great idea for a unique genre niche. This history nerd who signed on for four years of Latin in high school enjoyed the Hades out of this book.”


From ‘Before the Second Sleep’ – 4 April 2016

“A fabulously imagined Roman-descended culture”
In her Roma Nova series, Alison Morton engages the query of What if, and world-building on the possible answers or results. Combining this with her own military experience and consideration of Roman women playing a more significant role than actual history shows, an installment such as Aurelia is born.

Growing Aurelia, of course, requires the possession of its own history, and Morton deftly provides this. Following Theodosius’s 395 (AD) ban on all pagan religious observation, some four hundred Romans depart, setting up an infant society, Roma Nova, on the family-owned land of its senator, who leads the new colony’s twelve prominent clans.

In her brief but fascinating historical note—wisely positioned at the start of the novel—Morton reminds us via Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms that any fledgling state requires certain elements to ensure its survival, amongst them defense, naturally, but also a diplomatic force, revenue system and, the author adds, adaptability.

The Roma Nova of Aurelia, set in the 1960s and populated by the descendants of the Twelve Families, has indeed looked after these interests: silver is their major export and they possess a hardy diplomatic corps, both of which come into play when Aurelia Mitela is sent abroad to investigate the price manipulation of this precious metal.

Aurelia, mother to a sickly child and who also recently lost her own mother under suspicious circumstances, travels to a Berlin different in two major ways, one for her and one for us.

Unlike the rest of Europe in this era, where women generally continue to embrace traditional roles, Roma Novan females are accustomed to being able to move into positions of power; indeed, Aurelia has a successful army career only recently put on hiatus. So she encounters a society unused to her authority and assertive demeanor, though without the fallout of an infamous Austrian-born corporal’s rise to terrible power, which in this alternate history never occurred.

Bringing a reader from the opening of this conception to the point at which Aurelia embarks on her investigation is no mean feat. Morton packs many centuries of history into the backstory and narrative without overwhelming us, but allowing Aurelia to develop a rapport with us as we read. She is a “mere soldier,” though proud of her service. She understands her tiny country has always had to work hard and remain vigilant to overcome their vulnerability. She is embarrassed at her weight gain and worries about her small daughter, and that she cannot fill her late mother’s shoes and keep up with her new duties.

Aurelia is sensitive but practical and as such, I didn’t entirely expect poetic-style passages in this first person narrative. Not that Aurelia isn’t intellectually capable; her character simply seems too no-nonsense. In that respect I was not disappointed for Aurelia’s voice makes sense; it fits perfectly with who she is … even when Morton tosses in a treat here and there.

He opened a glazed door at the far end of the glass wall. A narrow ledge protected by a waist-high glass wall with a curled edge metal top rail extended out about a metre from the wall. He was right; the view was spectacular. The sky glittered like a net of white diamonds on navy velvet. At times like this, you wondered if there really were gods on Olympus who could have created such beauty.

It wasn’t exactly a surprise to read such a lovely passage, as Aurelia indeed is brilliant, without a doubt. In fact, its sparing placement is in keeping with her personality and realistic presentation of her as a character. Morton’s dialogue is smooth and rhythmic, economic and directed.

The author also knows how to keep balance: Aurelia doesn’t run the risk of becoming too perfect because she does, in her worry and fatigue, occasionally overlook crucial bits that lead to new circumstances, for both better and worse. Further character development also occurs as events play out, and Aurelia grows in her awareness, a clever route for Morton to pursue as it lends greater tension to the story as we follow it.

I heard a gasp from Mercuria. Numerus came up beside me and stared at Tella with contempt. Before he could do anything, I stalked over to the older woman. My ribs were hurting, my arm aching and my tiredness was making me irritable. But more than anything, fury raced through me at her unreasonable attitude. She’d made a career out of being obnoxious but it was going to stop here. I halted within centimetres of her, almost touching her clothing.[…] As I turned my back on her, I was trembling, but I walked away in what I hoped was a dignified way.

As fourth in the Roma Nova series, Aurelia nevertheless may be read as a stand alone, and in fact it is prequel to the first three installments. It is easy to see why this is an award-winning novel, action-packed as it is, with Aurelia having to battle just to keep her investigation from being stymied and herself killed as she navigates her way through determination of allies and enemies. We see events through the eyes of Aurelia, gaining insight into the Twelve Families and their relationships with one another, as well as a love interest for Aurelia.

Morton’s familiarity with the inner workings of the military as well as solid research and a fabulously imagined Roman-descended culture—and the rich details provided—make this novel a page turner that not only will inspire readers to finish it in one go, but also take themselves back to Inceptio, number one in the series, and have at it from the beginning.


From the Historical Novel Society – 1 August 2015
Selected as Editor’s Choice, shortlisted for the 2016 HNS Indie Award; now finalist.
HNS Eds_Choice
“So thoroughly believable”
‘Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century Aurelia Mitela is alone – forced to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer. But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale.”

The Roma Nova series of excellent alternate history books is a pleasure to read as modern-day exciting thriller adventures, and in the scenario of what if Rome had survived and women ruled?

We are taken to the Roma Nova of the 1960s, to Aurelia Mitela’s story – the grandmother of our heroine in the previous books. She is a young woman experiencing devastating loss. Her career in the Praetorian Guard appears to be finished but she is sent to Berlin to find those responsible for stealing Roma Nova’s silver reserves. Prepare to enter a world of alternative history written so thoroughly believable it is hard to accept that the Roman Empire along with all its intrigues and politics did not survive into the twentieth century.

Alison Morton’s skill as a writer is superb; her heroines are feisty and full of kick-ass determination; the heroes are heroic, and the villains are the thoroughly nasty bad-guys they are meant to be. Add to that, the overall feel and presentation of the books shriek professionalism throughout – starting with the stunning cover design.

Strictly speaking the series does not quite slot into the HNS guideline of ‘Historical Fiction’ (novels are to be set fifty years in the past) but anyone interested in Roman History will enjoy the concept– and as this one is set in the sixties, it ticks all the boxes and deserves to be selected as Editor’s Choice.’


From Kate Quinn on her Ave Historia blog – 29 May 2015
Part of an interview in

‘And now, my thoughts!
AURELIA is something of a prequel in the ROMA NOVA series, detailing the adventures of Aurelia Mitela who is grandmother and adviser to the heroine of the earlier novels–but it stands alone with ease, and will be enjoyed by those new to the series and those who have been reading along. Aurelia is as steadfast as a Roman column, brave and capable, newly head of her illustrious patrician clan and struggling with the age-old balance of work, family, children, love, and the demands of her country. Roma Nova is practically a character in itself; the Roman Empire surviving through the centuries to become a tough little city state that values its women as well as its men, and still prizes Roman virtues like gravitas and service to the Imperium. Fans of ancient Rome will delight in the clever historical details woven throughout: elite guards still called Praetorians, the full pantheon of gods still worshipped, the Roman villas that might have come intact from the age of Augustus, but which are now decked out in 60s technology!

A mysterious industrial smuggling scam sends Aurelia on the hunt, only to find that she is the hunted. The pace never lets up as Aurelia tracks an old enemy from Roma Nova to Germany and even further–and what an enemy he is. He reminded me of my own smug golden-boy villain Pedanius Fuscus from LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY, with the result that I was grinding my teeth in rage as I flipped pages faster and faster to see if he’d get his come-uppance. A racing climax and a fully satisfying ending–recommended for fans of alternate history and fans of ancient Rome!’


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.

Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.