Scorpion Rising

Scorpion Rising by Marilyn Todd. If this is the last adventure for the fiercely independent Claudia Seferius, then this fun and entertaining series is ending on a down note. Todd has moved on to begin a new series featuring High Priestess Iliona in 5th century Greece. There is little reason to read both this book and the new one as they are remarkably similar. In both stories, the heroine is blackmailed into traveling to a distant land to investigate a mysterious death. Both stories involve priestesses and religious ceremonies and both heroines have to cooperate with the sexy head of the local secret police. Even the depictions of the respective villains are nearly identical: an ethereal creature that spreads both physical and psychological terror and watches from the sidelines. If they hadn’t been written by the same author, one might suspect a case of plagiarism. Although I like the character of Claudia more than Iliona, I would choose Blind Eye as the one to read as the plot is less confusing.

But in you prefer the setting of wooded Gaul over Sparta, then read on. Claudia, the widow of a successful Roman wine merchant, is not above bending the law to keep the business going. However, one of her schemes lands her in hot water with the Scorpion, a young Gaul fomenting rebellion against Rome. In order to clear her debt, she must investigate the death of a novice of the Hundred Handed: a female-only cult which promotes peace, worships nature and keeps men only as slaves. But the group is also rife with long-standing jealousies and vicious gossip and struggling to combine centuries-old traditions and new concepts. Claudia asks her old nemesis, Marcus Orbilio of the Governor’s office, to go undercover as a slave in the commune, unaware that others are already hiding in the forest. The final solution is too complex with a mess of long-held secrets and concealed alliances. I’ve enjoyed Claudia’s brashness and the sexual tension between her and Marcus, but perhaps it is time for her to walk away.


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