Independent reviews - SUCCESSIO

These are only a few reviews, but they give you a flavour…

TheBookseller headerEditor’s Choice
(Three altogether, in a list of 18 finalists)
Alison Morton   SUCCESSIO

Carina Mitela is the heir within a leading family, but has chosen the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband’s lost daughter, a youthful indiscretion turns into a nightmare which threatens to attack the core of the imperial family itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this classy thriller, the third in Morton’s epic series set in Roma Nova, a breakaway Roman colony established in AD395, which has survived to the present day. The series came about because the author—a self-confessed “Ancient Roman nut”—wondered what a modern Roman society run by women would look like.

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ABstarsSUCCESSIO (Roma Nova #3) by Alison Morton

Clearly, Alison Morton is as much a reckless risk-taker as her main character, Carina Mitela, as I will explain. In Book 3 of the Roma Nova series, the author again unleashes non-stop action galloping on the shifting sands of delicately balanced relationships and expedient loyalties. A new character explodes on the scene, toppling the careful order of Roma Nova society and chain of command with a deadly domino effect that spares no-one. She is a young female operative, trained by UK special forces, whose impressive proficiency and single-minded focus almost mirror Carina’s own. However, her driving motivation is not defensive but destructively offensive and, like the legendary Trojan horse, she penetrates Conrad’s and Carina’s successful world, and opens a Pandora’s box of guilt and repressed childhood trauma that turns powerful individuals into mere puppets in her carefully-plotted mayhem.

Now about the risk-taking: after creating one of the most fascinating heroes in my recent memory in book one, and shamefully marginalizing him in book two, the author now proceeds to dismantle the mystique piece by piece, leading us to wonder whether Conradus has not, in fact, gone mad. It seems incredible that someone in such a crucially important position can behave so irrationally without consequences and, indeed, when he finally steps over the line, the Imperatrix’s retribution is swift and merciless.

Carina, for her part, having lost her most precious supporting influences, starts to crack under pressure. No longer the formidable (and perhaps too super-human) heroine of many risky undercover operations, she is now at her most vulnerable, a distraught mother and wife, torn between her devotion to the highly responsible position of Head of Training and Personnel (with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel) and her tender family bonds.

I read through this thrilling sequel with a mixture of fascinated horror and impotent frustration at how ridiculously some of the characters behaved. However, it all makes for a very lively read with the constant anticipation of a staggering revelation that will make sense of all the inconsistencies.

For me this is not an ideal stand-alone book, and I would strongly advise anyone considering it to start instead at the beginning with INCEPTIO, and carry on with the equally brilliant PERFIDITAS, to get the full thrill of the evolving saga. The author excels at keeping a large cast under control, with vivid characterisation and exciting developments defining their personalities much more interestingly than just passive description. However, in this book, I feel the balance has tipped a little too much in favour of non-stop action and the characters’ believability has suffered as a result. It’s a personal minor criticism and in no way does this detract from the book’s overall quality. After all, I don’t mind a little suspension of belief in exchange for the highly-charged events that drive the storyline. The ending was a little abrupt and I would have preferred to say goodbye a bit more leisurely to some of the characters that had become so familiar over the course of three books and nearly a thousand pages.

So, well done, Alison Morton, for entertaining me on the edge of my seat for so long, but I could have used a fuller winding up of this fascinating saga. A final word should be said about the cinematic quality of the action scenes, especially the old castle sequence, which will remain in my mind as though I had watched it on film. In fact, as I said before, this whole trilogy is first-class movie material and, in the right hands, would adapt brilliantly.

From HooverBookReviews – Historical Fiction
“5 stars and a hearty recommendation”

“In this the third volume in the Roma-Nova series the author has done her best work to date giving the reader a taut thriller from start to finish.  Carina and Conrad are driven to the edge and beyond as a piece of Conrad’s history in the form of a daughter he did not know about shows up in full time revenge mode.  Revenge not only directed at the father who she feels abandoned her but also against anyone who he is close to including Carina, the Imperatrix and their children.

Nicola, the prodigal daughter from Hades, is an example of how the bad guy/girl should be written in any good novel.  Her perseverance, resourcefulness and the downright ruthlessness of her character are what good stories are made of.  By the same token, those same qualities are imbued once again in the heroine making her once again occasionally act outside the purview of law and order to safeguard her family. This is definitely a page turner of the highest order and while I really enjoyed the first two books, this one captivated me even more.  5 stars and a hearty recommendation.”

HNSlogo_full“The third in the Roma Nova series sees Carina Mitela dealing with the estranged daughter of her husband blackmailing them, her family falling apart, the heir to the empire becoming involved in highly illegal matters and her career on the line. Never have things been so tough; whatever decision she makes will have major repercussions.

Successio is the third in the Roma Nova series, and for those that are unfamiliar with Roma Nova, I heartily recommend that this is remedied at your earliest convenience.

The Roma Nova series is an alternative history and reimagines what the twenty-first century would be like if the Roman Empire had continued, albeit in a far smaller capacity, and it is certainly a world full of interest and drama. The politics are completely different, society is no longer patriarchal, but the traditions and religions have remained intact.

Being the third in the series, the relationships are cemented and, if you are a follower of the series, you will understand the dynamics. I did find myself a little lost in the opening chapters because I was reading the third in the series without the benefit of the previous books, however, the characters are fantastic and it is wonderful to see strong women instead of weak-willed wallflowers.

Absolutely recommended and well worth a read – but treat yourself and start at number one if you have not already done so.”

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

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