NEXUS – Independent reviews

From Northern Reader – 14 September 2019

A Roma Nova novella featuring Aurelia, diplomat, soldier and survivor

A thriller, set in an alternative Europe, featuring a ex-military officer determined to protect her family and friends, Nexus is a short but vivid episode in the Roma Nova series by Alison Morton. A standalone novella, this is a brilliant book which maintains a fast pace while keeping in touch with other Roma Nova stories. Aurelia Mitela has served her time in Special Forces, and can disarm a gunman with or without the help of her bodyguards. Her determination to help an old friend and desperate father is second only to her passion to protect her daughter and partner. From the flat lands of Cambridgeshire to the streets of Roma and beyond, this novel never pauses in its revelations of international crime and petty grudges.

A terrifically physical book, this again contains a certain vulnerability on Aurelia’s part when not playing by the rules, but is also punctuated by her leaps of intuition when a threat is perceived. Morton’s creation of a state run by women from earliest times gives a sharp focus on the responsibilities that can be assumed when traditional expectations are overturned. While cleverly steeped in a world where Roman gods and army ranks are still common terms, the main characters are set in a 1970s Europe where London still stands but has the legation from a Roman state within its environs. As modern technology begins to emerge even if referred to by different names, this book is cleverly constructed and executed. It is an adventure that I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review.

The book opens with a conversation between Aurelia and her friend Harry Carter. He is consulting her because his troubled son Tom has disappeared once more. As a widower, Harry has tried to bring up his son with every material advantage and ambition, but apart from a brief interlude when Aurela’s companion Miklos managed to gain the young man’s confidence with horses, Tom has seemed angry with his life. Aurelia is soon involved in her own offspring’s problems, as her daughter Marina is being bullied by another schoolchild. Her position is difficult as her military training and experience is unsettling in diplomatic circles, but it is not long before she must remember every survival skill she has ever learnt.

This book is an excellent episode in the Roma Nova series, fitting in between other novels and consistent in the massively able Aurelia from whose point of view this book is told. She is not a superhero, but a survivor in nearly impossible circumstances. This particular book offers an alternative view of Britain which has endured a different history; I was particularly drawn by the description of the Cambridge ara and “Oldmarket” instead of “Newmarket” and other little hints of the nature of a different European history. The importance of family, of love, is still central to this thriller- adventure, and I was instantly drawn back into the world of Aurelia and her state responsibilities. I recommend this book which is part of a series which has made room for fierce female protagonists, and it is as carefully and engagingly written  as its predecessors and no doubt successors, of which I hope there will be many!


From Flying High Reviews – 11 September 2019

Nexus: How Does A Strong Woman Deal With A Broken Man?

Nexus is a novella in the alternate history Roma Nova series by Alison Morton in which there is a matriarchal country whose citizens are the descendants of Pagan Romans that left Rome in ancient times. See my reviews of previous Roma Nova books InceptioCarina and Perfiditas which focus on the altered 21st century adventures of the maverick praetorian, Carina.  The protagonist of Nexus is Carina’s formidable grandmother, Aurelia.   It takes place in the alternate 20th century between Aurelia and Insurrectio. My reviews of these Aurelia books are at the links I’ve provided.  You can also find my review of Retalio, the sequel of Insurrectio on this blog here. The most recent book in this series that I’ve reviewed is Roma Nova Extra, an anthology of short stories taking place during a variety of historical periods.

Let’s move on to the current review. Since Aurelia is my favorite of the two Roma Nova novel protagonists, I was delighted to be in her company again.  This time it was in the newly written 1970’s adventure, Nexus, provided by Alison Morton in advance of publication.

I’d like to emphasize that all the Roma Nova books are heavily plotted thrillers, but characterization is also an aspect of these books.  Aurelia investigates a series of crimes in Nexus.  Yet I feel that the central theme of this novella is character centered.

The broken man appears in several Roma Nova books.  He’s especially heart-wrenching to deal with when a protagonist has fallen in love with him.   Yet there are other circumstances that may make a strong woman want to fix him.  If he’s young, she may feel protective toward him.  Aurelia finds herself in this situation in Nexus.

 Aurelia is a compassionate human being.    People who run rough shod over others are usually insecure.  It’s only individuals who have a strong sense of themselves like Aurelia who can afford to be compassionate.  This is a character trait that she shares with Miklos, the man she loves.  Miklos and Aurelia’s relationship with him play an important role in Nexus.  Aurelia’s choice of Miklos and the kind of relationship she has with him is another reason why I prefer her as a protagonist.  I really like that Aurelia and Miklos respect each other’s independence, and share the same values.

The ending of Nexus is tragic, but there is also a redemptive aspect that made it feel emotionally satisfying.   I hope that Alison Morton will find other opportunities to write more Aurelia prequels.


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. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, will be out on 12 September 2019.

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