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Saturday 9 March 2024

Exploring the world of imaginative fiction with Alison Morton

let's explore...
what if a portion of the Roman Empire survived?
with Alison Morton

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

About the Book

First of all, thank you, Helen, for hosting EXSILIUM (and me!) on your blog. As a confirmed writer of alternative history thrillers, I’m delighted to take part in your special theme week!
[H: My pleasure, Alison!]

EXSILIUM follows JULIA PRIMA and forms the transition between recorded history as we know it and the start of the alternative history timeline of the modern Roma Nova series. In “alternate history speak”, EXSILIUM records the point of divergence of the historical timeline, the essential element of alternative history.

The Roma Nova series

Why did I leave the present day and dive back into the late 4th century? Because my readers insisted I tell the origin story of Roma Nova. The characters in the modern series of eight books often refer back to the foundation of Roma Nova and the life-changing decision their ancestors took to leave Rome and settle in the mountains. It was supposed to be one book, but I had too much story!  JULIA PRIMA told us about Julia, the prince’s daughter from Noricum, and Lucius, the disgraced military tribune. Now, in this second Roma Nova Foundation story, the families are facing a life-threatening dilemma.

Exile – a living death to a Roman. Or a way to survive?

In AD 395, the Roman Empire is riven with religious conflict, dividing parents from children, brothers from sisters, and deteriorating into bitter violence. As the Christianised state stamps out all vestiges of Rome’s thousand-year religion and threatens execution for failure to convert, a group of senatorial Roman families, resolute in their traditional beliefs and values, has no choice but to go into voluntary exile.

Maelia Mitela, on the brink of ruin when her husband dies fighting for a tolerant emperor, grieves for her son lost to the Christians and is fearful of committing to another man…

Lucius Apulius, ex-tribune, true to the old gods, fixed on the powerful memory of his wife Julia’s homeland of Noricum, will risk everything to protect his children’s future…

Galla Apulia, loyal to her father but as the eldest of four daughters only too aware of not being the desired son, and enduring the sting of personal betrayal…

A logistical nightmare, spoilt egos and heartbreak are challenging enough but the threat of forced conscription into the imperial army, barbarian raiders and a vengeful ex-spouse could sabotage their whole escape. Will courage, steadfastness and willpower be enough for them to survive?

Read An Excerpt

Galla Apulia narrates as they leave Rome forever.

We traipsed down the Alta Semita, a small procession of father, daughters and granddaughters, nursemaid, two servants with last minute bits and pieces in handcarts, and two guards. I’d sent the bulk of our goods to Leo Mercator’s livery stable by the Porta Flaminia by night when carts and wagons were permitted within the city, but we’d chosen to make our last journey through Rome on foot in daytime so we didn’t feel we were fleeing the city as if we were fugitives. It allowed us to capture some last memories, whether pleasant or not. I know Claudia had been out in the city this past week making numerous sketches, some of the public building, others of ordinary things like people in the markets.

Via Alta Semita

Lost in my own thoughts, I was silent, relishing the relative quiet of the Alta Semita, but it didn’t last. The instant we went down through the remnants of the old Porta Salutaris in the Servian Wall, the street became crowded; people, shops, gossips, soldiers, children and dogs running, and all making noise – that unique Roman noise of insults, boasts, laughter and shrieking. This was the direct route to the Campus Martius after all. And the smell. Gods! At least the mountain air wouldn’t make us choke. Our boots protected us from the hard stone and the unnameable things lying on their surface. We may have looked like out-of-town travellers, but as born and bred Romans we were used to beggars and pickpockets and kept a close lookout for distractions and straying hands. Lucilla directed her fiercest glare as a dirty-faced child attempted to snatch her waist pouch. The child retreated. But I spotted Lucilla fish a couple of bronze coins out and throw them at the girl.
‘That was well done, Sister,’ I murmured.
‘The gods know where the money will go. I hope on something to eat, but I suspect to a pickpocket master.’ She shrugged. ‘You have to try.’

Buying links for EXSILIUM:
Amazon: (universal link)

Alison at Virunum
About Alison
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 lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit

Social media links
Connect with Alison on her thriller site: 
Facebook author page: 
X/Twitter:     @alison_morton
Alison’s writing blog: 
Alison’s Amazon page: 
Newsletter sign-up: 

What was the first novel you read that made you think: ‘Wow, I want to write like this!’
Robert Harris’s Fatherland. Although I’d already drafted my first book INCEPTIO, I hadn’t realised I was writing alternative history!

What book (fiction or nonfiction) is a treasure that you’d pass on to a grandchild?
I have two grandchildren now! But I have no idea how to choose one single book. I would leave them my whole home library.

If you found a genie in a magic lamp what would your three wishes be?
Get everybody to calm down about everything
Magic up an infinite supply of medical and nursing staff
World peace (or do I sound too much like Barbie?)
[H: nothing wrong with sounding like Barbie!]

If you could have a holiday anywhere in the world (for free!) where would you go?
A tour of Roman sites I haven’t been to  (Give me a few months to enjoy this).

Your favourite time period – and why
Ha! As long as I had enough money to protect myself against the slings and arrows, etc., any time during the Western Roman Empire apart from the third century.

Name one thing you regret that you didn’t do
Worked harder at school. 

Name one thing you’re pleased that you did do
Started writing thrillers in an alternative Roman setting.


It's Alison's fault that I dreamed up the idea of having a Spotlight Week on my blog each month exploring various themes - I had bookmarked today's slot for Exsilium, with an 'aboutr the book' and a review - then thought 'Let's do more than just a spotlight and a review for one book...'

So you've read the Spotlight (I hope!) ... now here's my review.

Briefly. Exsilium is brilliant.

I think I say this for each new episode of Alison's Roma Nova novels - each one outdoes the previous, each going from strength to strength in author's confidence, plot, plausible adventure, believable characters, immaculate research and that essential 'give us more' enthusiasm at the end. Each new release I think: 'Surely she can't do it again? The series must tire, she must run out of ideas.' And each time I am 100% wrong!

The good guys have that right amount of human believability about them - not all-out 'goody-goodies' but they have a sense of honour and trustworthiness mixed with the ability to get things wrong, but the sebnse to put them right - just like real good people. The baddies are bad enough for the reader to not mind when (if) they get killed, but not so bad that you can't stand reading about them. 

I so enjoyed finding out about the 'history' of the characters in this novel, in particular, having 'met' many of them before by name in other novels of the Roma Nova series. Each character comes vividly to life and each book is perfectly OK to read as a stand alone - this one included - as back stories and future stories are skilfully intertwined within Alison's more than capable creative ability of story telling.

 Exsilium is brilliant. 

I also say this every time: The Best Yet!

5 stars and very highly recommended.
5 ***** Stars

this month's themed tour guests:
Samantha Wilcoxson
Anna Belfrage
the authors of 1066 Turned Upside Down
Inge H. Borg
Charlene Newcomb
Alison Morton
Marian L Thorpe

*** *** 

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Amazon Author Page: 

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The story of the events that led to
The Battle of Hastings in 1066

Harold the King (UK edition)
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an anthology of 'What If'' tales
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Who became a Legend... 

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US editions

Historical Stories of Exile by 13 popular authors 
Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Cathie Dunn, 
J.G. Harlond, Helen Hollick, Loretta Livingstone, Amy Maroney 
Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Elizabeth St.John, 
Marian L Thorpe, Annie Whitehead.
With an introduction by Deborah Swift

Including an extra scene from Exsilium
 by Alison Morton
Amazon: FREE ebook!
includes a story by Alison Morton


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  1. Alison, I am curious: why "except for the third century"? And I agree with Helen: Exsilium is a great read!

    1. This was the period of the "Crisis of the Third Century", (235–285)when the Roman Empire nearly collapsed. It began in 235 with the assassination of Emperor Severus Alexander by his own troops. During the following 50-year period, the empire saw the combined pressures of barbarian invasions and migrations into Roman territory, civil wars, peasant rebellions and political instability, with multiple usurpers competing for power. This led to the debasement of currency and economic collapse, with the Plague of Cyprian contributing to the disorder.
      So not a good time to be a Roman...

  2. First, thank you Alison for your "encouragement" for Helen (though she doesn't need much) to host as yet another batch of us. As your Roman family grows, so will your fame - and, I bet, so do your notebooks. Love your covers (kudos to Avalon Graphics).

    1. Thank you, Inge. Helen works absolute wonders in supporting indies. We all need to work together and I think we do!


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