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Review: Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn (ARC)

>>Friday, April 30, 2010

Title: Mistress of Rome
Author: Kate Quinn
Format: ARC
Pages: 460
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 6th, 2010
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Rating: 8.5

From Goodreads: Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress's rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome's newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome's aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian's games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor's mistress.

Why did I read this book?

Source: ARC provided through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program

My Review
I was a little hesitant going into this book because I am such a fan of Roman history and I wasn't sure what I would be getting out of a novel based in that ancient society.

I wasn't disappointed. I think the author did a good job at portraying Roman society. There was everything you'd want to see: gladiators, the Coliseum, the Vestal Virgins, senators, and of course the Emperor.

I think the biggest asset of this novel is the intricate and fascinating plot which Quinn orchestrates. It's hard to believe this is her first published novel; I thought she dealt with the twists and turns of the plot and the cast of characters very well. Yes, there are quite a few characters, but I think each one had a distinct personality. There were evil people, good people and people in between. I really found myself attached to a few of them.

Despite all this, it wasn't a difficult or heavy read. One thing I didn't like too much was the way the book was structured. The narration is split between characters and first and third person narrative and therefore can feel a bit disjointed when switching from one to the other. However, this is easily forgotten in the whirlwind of the plot.

Rating: 8.5
I definitely recommend this read for anyone interested in Rome, romance, and family dynamics, politics, and stories that span the lives of the main characters.


  1. hey! im visiting from the hop and i'm your latest follower ;) guess what? we have the same blog background! so i'm obliged to say your blog is beautiful :P
    nice review!

    id love it if you'd drop by my blog sometime :D

  2. following the RMR link, i love that meme!

    Isn't ancient Rome just the funnest place for historical fiction? With so much information available, authors who "don't get it right" have no excuse, and it sounds like Quinn gets it right!

    have you read the Silver Pigs series by Lindsey Davis? murder, mystery, corruption and romance in ancient Rome. good stuff.

  3. Dropping by from RMR. Ancient Rome is a little far back for me (I tend to go back as far as 18th C), but this sounds like a pretty good read. A good, intricate plot goes a long way with me. Nice review!



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