Julia Prima is a prequel to the alternative history Roma Nova series. Roma Nova is a small European enclave where descendants of Ancient Rome live in a modern day setting.
This prequel is set in AD 370 and begins in the Roman frontier province of Noricum which in today’s world straddles parts of Austria and Slovenia.
Julia is the daughter of a local Prince, but she is in a complex situation as she is ‘half divorced’: in the transitional period between religious rivalry of pagan gods and Christianity, Julia has divorced her current husband in one religion but not the other.
She falls in love with Tribune Lucius Apulius, who has lost his prestigious posting in Britannia after he refused to convert to Christianity, but local religious leaders have enough influence to send him further away, this time to Rome. Refusing to be parted from her love, Julia sets out on an epic journey from Noricum to Rome hoping to reunite with Lucius.
I enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons: firstly all the details of the era including ancient Roman and pagan worlds, and secondly as a tantalising glimpse into the families who will go on to create the Roma Nova world. I would love the author to write about the demise of the Roman Empire and how those who fled journeyed north to their final resting spot and how they created Roma Nova.
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“You should have trusted me. You should have given me a choice.”
AD 370, Roman frontier province of Noricum. Staying faithful to the Roman gods in a Christian empire can be lethal. Half-divorced Julia Bacausa is condemned to an emotional desert and a forced marriage, Lucius Apulius barely clings onto his posting in a military backwater. Strongly drawn to each other, they are soon separated, but Julia is determined not to lose the only man she will love.
Neither wholly married nor wholly divorced, Julia is trapped in the power struggle between the Christian church and her pagan ruler father.
Tribune Lucius Apulius’s life is blighted by his determination not to convert to Christianity even to save his cherished career. Stripped of his command in Britannia, he’s demoted to the backwater of Noricum – and encounters Julia.
Unwittingly, he takes her for a whore. When confronted by who she is, he is overcome with remorse and fear. Despite this disaster, Julia and Lucius are drawn to one another by an irresistible attraction.
But their intensifying bond is broken when Lucius is banished to Rome. Distraught, Julia gambles everything to join him. But a vengeful presence from the past overshadows her perilous journey. Following her heart’s desire brings danger she could never have envisaged…
Part of the foundation story of Roma Nova and prequel to the award-winning Roma Nova Thriller Series.