No, I did not make a spelling error – it is Inceptio NOT Inception.
If you think it sounds like a thriller, you would be right. If you thought it sounded like a Dan Brown novel you will be gratified to know that you were wrong. Dan Brown could do with a few lessons from Ms Morton.
All stories start with a “What if?” moment. But here the “What if?” moment is colossally huge. What if at the end of the Roman Empire, a group of citizens struck out and formed a small nation-state to continue living the way they had in Rome and that country persisted through the ages, adapting to become a matriarchal society?
It’s an example of this new sub-genre that has popped up on the scene: alternate history thrillers.
In Inceptio, Roma Nova exists, Adolf Hitler never did and there was just the Great War. In Inceptio, protagonist Karen Brown has what she herself eventually refers to as a “Princess Diaries” moment as she suddenly realises her Roma Novan heritage means a lot more than just having a Roma Novan mother and an American father and that actually the combination is probably going to cause her a hell of a lot of trouble.
The kind of trouble that gets you put on a terrorist list, kidnapped, nearly murdered, over and over again, despite having a rather fetching modern day version of a Praetorian Guard (gladiator for the rest of us) around to protect you. The kind of trouble that makes you give up US citizenship and run for the border, literally.
Did I mention that there is a superhero in it? Well, there is. Briefly but nevertheless there is one. And Roman villas. Karen Brown finds herself slowly stripping layers of her identity that she has clung to for so long, piecing together details of what her legacy was supposed to be, what it ended up being and who her parents were which is important because there is a psychopath on her tail, intent on killing her and she has no idea why.
Gladiators, even modern day ones, can take one too many knocks to the head and be stupid so love does not run smooth and Karen finds herself eager to protect herself and after major training at boot camps and gyms, transforms herself from an All American, English speaking advertising executive to a Latin speaking, I will break the rules to get where I need to be, secret police agent/Praetorian Guard/ special forces soldier/operative so awesome there isn’t one specific term for it. Which kind of knocks everyone else for a loop but by this point that is becoming par for the course.
The story isn’t boring at all. The twists and turns are insane, unexpected and yet logical when you think about what this Ms Brown is going through. The final twist is the pay off and when you get to it after being unable to put the book down, you are not disappointed. Ms Morton provides a quick list of who’s who at the start with all the Latin names but you don’t need it to navigate the story.
The quirky sense of humour is apparent from the way Karen views her situation and those of others to the way everyone swears by using the name of a Roman god. “Juno!”, “Mercury Esus!”, “By Jupiter!” and so on. I am planning to adopt this just to confuse the living daylights out of everyone else I know.
The best part? Inceptio can standalone as a story but is part one of a trilogy. Which is apt. ‘Inceptio’ is Latin for ‘inception’ which means ‘the start’.
Which is exactly where you should begin. Now.
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Publication Date: 2013
Author: Alison Morton
Genre: Alternate History Thrillers