I have reviewed three of the alternate history Roma Nova books by Alison Morton on this blog. The titles are linked to their reviews. They were Inceptio, Perfiditas and Carina. All three feature Carina Mitela as the protagonist. With Aurelia , I begin a prequel trilogy taking place in the 20th century and centering on Carina's grandmother, Aurelia Mitela. I liked what I saw of Aurelia in Carina's books. So I was happy to receive the first book focusing on her as a gift from the author via Book Funnel, and this is my honest review.
When I compare the two protagonists in the Roma Nova series, I have to say that I prefer Aurelia. I feel that Aurelia is more level headed, and that she has better judgment than Carina.
I saw a review of this novel on Goodreads that questions Aurelia's romantic judgment. Frankly, I thought Aurelia's romantic judgment was much better than Carina's. I won't get into specifics because those would be spoilers, but I believe that your mate should be the person who you can always count on to stand by you. Carina forgave far too much. It seems to me that Aurelia was able to put her life in perspective when it came to romance, and made a decision that was healthier for her in the long run.
Another major difference between Aurelia and Carina is that Aurelia necessarily had a more powerful support system because she was born into a privileged position in Roma Nova. She didn't have to learn the ropes. She didn't have to try to fit into a culture that was alien to her as Carina did when she unexpectedly had to start a new life in Roma Nova. It's a good thing that Carina is so adaptable because she needed that flexibility. She didn't have Aurelia's advantages. She had to invent a support system of her own, though Aurelia herself was always someone she could rely on. In a crisis, Carina transforms herself and finds new options, but Aurelia is as constant as the North Star. I perceive both of them as strong women with differing approaches that were shaped by their experiences.
I was interested in the opportunity we had to explore a new setting in Aurelia. Aurelia was sent to Prussia on an assignment that was ostensibly diplomatic, but really involved the collection of intelligence. In the Roma Nova alternate continuity, Germany was partitioned into a number of sovereign nations in the aftermath of the Great War. Prussia was one of them. This was apparently a lasting solution to the threat of German militarism. There was no World War II.
In Prussia, Aurelia was faced for the first time with institutionalized sexism. Respectable Prussian women were restricted to the domestic sphere. Prussian men seemed incapable of understanding the matriarchal culture of Roma Nova. I wondered if attitudes in Prussia might have changed over time. Would Carina have been met with the same uncomprehending prejudice if she visited Prussia in the 21st century in the course of her duties?
I look forward to continuing to explore the differences between the way Carina responded to situations, and how Aurelia reacted to similar circumstances in the two remaining books of the Aurelia trilogy.