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EXCERPT: Exsilium by Alison Morton

Spring greetings, readers! It's been one busy month with book events. I had a fabulous time last weekend, sharing more about West of Santillane with history lovers at the Botetourt County Historical Society in Fincastle. It was truly an honor to be among so many avid readers and learned folk who love and respect the past. I did a book-signing, and it was a most successful day.

Tomorrow, I'll be a guest on the nationally syndicated radio show, JOY ON PAPER [], hosted by PatZi Gil, and on Saturday, I'll be at BOOK NO FURTHER on the Roanoke Market from 11am-2pm. So come on down and see me, browse books, and I'm always happy to sign one, should there be the need.

This week on Brook's Journal, I have an author I always like to welcome: Alison Morton. Her renown alternative history series on Nova Roma is always intriguing to me. This month, her newest prequel to the series has launched: EXSILIUM--"Exile". Below, she's left us a sample of this work, so check it out and consider ordering it. I've not read it yet, but have heard it's FANTASTIC! Alison is a truly gifted writer.

So, read ON, everybody!

Excerpt from EXSILIUM by Alison Morton

[Lucius narrates as their house in Rome is closed and locked as they prepare to go to their country estate for the rest of the summer.] 

August AD 394

*Lucius narrates as their house in Rome is closed and locked as they prepare to go to their country estate for the rest of the summer.


It was three days before the ides when the house doors and shutters had finally been barred and nailed and the storerooms checked and locked and the last perishable food bundled up. The steward bowed and handed me the entrance door key. Claudia climbed into the litter waiting at the door. At sixteen, she wanted to be the young lady and recline behind half-closed silk curtains as her station demanded. Julia at eleven was still child enough to want to dance along beside me as we set out for my eldest daughter Galla’s house only a short distance away. I kept a firm grip on Julia’s hand as we navigated the streets.

‘How long will we stay with Galla?’ she asked.

‘Only a few days, then we’ll go into the country.’

‘Are you letting everybody arrange everything first, then we can arrive with nothing to do?’ She glanced up at me with an impish smile on her face.

‘Don’t be cheeky, young lady.’ Then I relented and returned her smile. ‘But yes, it is more pleasant. We’d only get in the way. Besides, staying with your sister Galla and Proculus means we can spend a few days with Sibylla and Verena.’

Galla’s two little daughters, now four and two, were energetic, and always demanding their grandfather play horsey. And their grandfather would comply. Galla’s family was staying in the city for another week despite the weather, then would go to Proculus’s estate for the rest of the summer.

We wove in between the mule dung and detritus on the street and more than once I saved Julia from tripping on a loose slab. Really, the roads were not being maintained properly. Another item on my list for the urban prefect’s office. I’d had the stretch along our part of the Alta Semita repaired for several hundred feet each side, but my neighbours didn’t seem so enthusiastic about doing the same. We were nearly at Galla’s when I heard my name called.

‘Tribune Apulius! Sir!’

I turned, wondering if I would find the grizzled face of one of my old troops, odd though that would have been, given they would have come from Noricum or even Britannia. But it was odder still. A man in his early forties, slender, fresh-faced with brown curling hair on top, was waving at me.

‘Lucius Apulius. I’ve found you!’

I studied him and suddenly I remembered. Titus Calavius, the thin-striper from Augusta Raurica on the Rhenus frontier.  He and his detachment had escorted me to Cambodunum on my way from Britannia to my posting at Virunum well over twenty years ago. He’d been all of eighteen and just appointed. In front of me now was a mature man, but his eyes sparkled as if he were still that youngster eager to repel every barbarian on the Empire’s limes frontier. I smiled at him and extended my hand.

‘Well met, Calavius. This is a day to celebrate indeed. Are you well?’

Before he could reply, a tug on my hand reminded me we were standing in the street, fair game for any passing cart or carriage. I waved the litter carrying Claudia to the side and stepped back just in time to avoid an idiot thundering through the street on a large black horse. His mouth and nose were shielded by a scarf and a cap was pulled down over his head.

‘Oof, he’s going fast,’ Calavius said through a cloud of dust and debris raised by the horse’s hooves. ‘I wonder what his hurry is.’

‘Probably an official messenger from that satchel. No doubt on his way to the urban prefect.’

‘Should we go and find out?’

‘No, they’re always bringing boring dispatches which they think important but which turn out to be irrelevant. I’m not trivialising it, but that’s all we receive from Mediolanum these days. Leave it to Florinus to sort it out. I don’t think he’s left for his summer villa yet.’

‘Is that likely with all this unrest?’

‘Possibly not.’

‘But did you notice what was attached to his belt? It was a handful of feathers.’

I stared at Calavius.

‘Are you sure?’

‘I only glimpsed them, but he definitely wasn’t carrying a victory wreath.’

We hurried on to Galla’s where I left Claudia and Julia. After a quick kiss on her cheek, I left Galla to supervise her sisters’ reception. My stomach turned at the thought of the news the messenger had brought. Had Calavius really seen feathers – the sign of defeat?


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.



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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44 views2 comments


Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
Mar 28

Thank you so much for hosting Alison Morton today, Brook! Take care, Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club


Alison Morton
Alison Morton
Mar 28

Thank you so m.uch for hosting EXSILIUM (and me!)  on your blog today. It's always a special pleasure to be hosted by another 'Roman'.

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