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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "Exsilium"

Book Title: EXSILIUM

Series: Roma Nova

Author: Alison Morton

Publication Date: 27 February 2024

Publisher: Pulcheria Press

Page Length: 364

Genre: Historical Fiction


Alison Morton



Exile – Living death to a Roman

AD 395. In a Christian Roman Empire, the penalty for holding true to the traditional gods is execution.


Maelia Mitela, her dead husband condemned as a pagan traitor, leaving her on the brink of ruin, grieves for her son lost to the Christians and is fearful of committing to another man.


Lucius Apulius, ex-military tribune, faithful to the old gods and fixed on his memories of his wife Julia’s homeland of Noricum, will risk everything to protect his children’s future.


Galla Apulia, loyal to her father and only too aware of not being the desired son, is desperate to escape Rome after the humiliation of betrayal by her feckless husband.


For all of them, the only way to survive is exile.


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Author Bio:


Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her ten-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but use a sharp line in dialogue. The latest, EXSILIUM, plunges us back to the late 4th century, to the very foundation of Roma Nova.


She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. 


Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. 


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Book Excerpt:

[Maelia Mitela narrates as she, her brother Gaius and the bridegroom Proculus prepare to go to the latter’s wedding with Galla Apulia.]


Rome, June 389


‘At least it’s not raining,’ Gaius muttered as we gathered in the atrium of my house at the third hour. And it was still my house, to my amazement. It seemed that we were to be left alone by Theodosius and Valentinian’s confiscators.

‘It hasn’t rained for three days,’ I retorted. ‘And that was a short burst, the first since mid May,’ I glanced at his face.  ‘Are you in a grumpy mood? That won’t do for a wedding!’

‘Peace, Sister. I won’t disgrace you.’

‘Well, you look very fine. And you’ve visited the barber!’

‘Don’t sound so surprised.’ He buffeted me gently on the arm.

His deep saffron tunic was lavishly decorated with wide embroidery on the sleeves and the matching vertical stripes of the clavi running down the front of the tunic shimmered with gold thread amidst scarlet and blue figurative animal designs.  His belt of tanned leather was buckled with a gold dolphin motif and his sandals had very fine patterning all over. The barber had shaved him close and somehow tamed his wavy hair. I would be proud to walk to Galla’s wedding with him.

‘Is Proculus ready?’ He glanced round. ‘Or has he bolted?’

‘Gaius! No, he’s been ready for an hour. I coaxed him to eating some bread and olives, but he only ate half of what he put on his plate. I made him sit down and read a boring – I mean calming – codex about farming in Gaul.’

‘Oh, gods,’ Gaius groaned.

‘Behave!’ I whispered as the earnest young man walked across the atrium. He kept fiddling with the fibula holding the folds of his blue pallium in place. It was perfectly placed on the front of his shoulder, but I pretended to adjust it and he gave me a smile in thanks. He took a deep breath.

Salve Gaius Mitelus,’ Proculus said and held out his hand. Gaius took it and gave him an encouraging smile. Before either of them could say another word, Aunt Honorina appeared and despite leaning heavily on her body slave’s arm and tapping her silver-topped stick on the marble floor, she sailed like an unstoppable imperial barge to the litter at the throat of the vestibule. She waved her hand as if she were indeed the empress and we left in her wake.


At Domus Apulia, a young slave with flowers in her hand greeted us and ushered us in through the open door. But the usual porter hovered at the side with a sturdy guard just behind him who eyed us up as we went in. Lucius was obviously taking no chances with stray wanderers or unfriendly people.

Since Silvanius had died fighting on the losing side, some of the so-called social elite had given me the cold shoulder, even when we bathed in the same pool at the baths. One former friend had turned her back on me and slowly stepped out of the water saying it was polluted. I kept my tears back and pretended not to see, but my heart was sore at her actions. Since then, I had used other baths or bathed in the small pool at home. I’d made sure she wouldn’t be coming to Galla’s wedding. A pity, as her husband was a pleasant man, a cousin in distant degree of Lucius.

In the inner courtyard decorated with luscious pink summer roses and cissanthemos releasing their sweet scent from split yellow and orange tube-like flowers, some forty guests were milling around.  A small flower-draped altar under an arbour supported statues of Juno and Jupiter, with stools before it for the bride and groom and a ring of chairs for guests. Lucius’s steward whispered to Proculus and the two of them disappeared into a side room. Slaves circulated with trays of nuts, shrimp and small pastries, and cups of wine. A trio of flute players circled among the guests, subtly herding them toward the altar. Lucius followed with his father, then the priest and a more relaxed-looking Proculus.

‘Bet somebody’s given him a swift drink,’ Gaius whispered in my ear. Then he winced. ‘Ow!’

‘Enough of that talk,’ Honorina hissed at him. She’d clouted him with her stick. I swallowed a chuckle.


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1 Comment

Thank you for hosting Alison Morton with Exsilium today! Take care, Cathie xo The Coffee Pot Book Club

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