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Mistress of Rome

Mistress of Rome

Написано Kate Quinn

Озвучено Elizabeth Wiley


Mistress of Rome

Написано Kate Quinn

Озвучено Elizabeth Wiley

оценки:
4/5 (48 оценки)
Длина:
15 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Feb 10, 2015
ISBN:
9781494579005
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

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, but 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.
Издатель:
Издано:
Feb 10, 2015
ISBN:
9781494579005
Формат:
Аудиокнига


Об авторе

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with The Alice Network and The Huntress. All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with two rescue dogs.

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  • (5/5)
    This novel was amazing. Full of everything you expect a novel about Ancient Rome to include -- scandal, sex, violence. You had heroes and villains and in between characters that carefully waded into the grey. There was a surprise, lots of conniving, and a really awful woman who you just want to see literally thrown to the lions. And over all, love and family and some humor. I am definitely going to be reading the rest of the series.
  • (4/5)
    Taking place over a fourteen-year period, Mistress of Rome follows the story of Thea, a 14 year old Judean slave when we first meet her. She is working as a maid to Lady Lepida Pollia, a spoiled and selfish aristocrat about the same age. We also meet another slave, Arius, who has been selected to be one of many killed during the gladiator games. When he kills his attackers instead, he becomes the newest sensation in Rome, The Barbarian. Lady Lepida develops a major crush on him and sends Thea to deliver letters on her behalf. When Arius falls for Thea, they long to escape their masters and find happiness together. When Lepida discovers what's going on between them, she develops a plan to separate them. The book then follows the story of both Thea and Arius as they continue their separate lives. The reader knows that eventually they will be back together again, but not before other terrible events have happened in their lives. There are probably lots of things to complain about in this book. It is not historically accurate, the language is too modern for the times, and some of the characters were one dimensional. Lepida is all bad and Thea is all good, for example. But despite the negatives, I really enjoyed the whole over the top story. It was suspenseful and quite a page turner. I don't think this book would appeal to everyone, especially someone who is looking for a strictly historical fiction book. It's probably more of a historical romance than true fiction. It has a lot of graphic violence so I don't recommend it to anyone who might be squeamish over that. Nevertheless, I'm hooked on the story and planning to continue the Empress of Rome series, which includes one prequel and two other books following this one.
  • (4/5)
    14-tear-old orphaned Judean slave girl Thea is in service to the malicious Lepida Pollia. Arius the Barbarian is a gladiator, forced to duel to the death in the Colosseum after spending years slaving in the salt mines. They find love together, but are soon ripped apart and Thea sold into prostitution. Lepida marries an older but good man, Marcus, who turns a blind eye to her numerous affairs including holding his grown son in her thrall. Thea has been purchased for her musical ability and is now entertaining Rome's upper classes. When she catches the Emperor's eye, jealous Lepida plots her downfall. Powerless, Thea has no choice but to submit to the Emperor's sadistic attentions. Throw Vix, her son, and Arius into this brutal mix and the reader can only wonder who will lose their life next.A no hold's barred look at the brutality that was Ancient Rome and the ultimate power that was the Emperor's reign. Enjoyed.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book!! It was so good! Reminded me kind of a mix between Gladiator and Spartacus. I can't wait to read the next one!
  • (4/5)
    An interesting fictional look at some of the people that intersected with the Emperor Domitian.
  • (4/5)
    This book felt a little bit too long to me. I felt the story was a good one. A subject that I've not read much about before so it was all new and shiny. I liked that the author included the lives of many people that were in different classes--the gladiator, the slave, the elite and socialite of the times. I found the story line of Vix (12 year old gladiator) to be a bit much. I tried to look up his history to see where the author go this idea from and didn't come up with much. Ms. Quinn states in the end notes that his story isn't done yet so I look forward to finding out more and then can again look up the actual history. I loved the story of Thea and Arius. Lepida is a great villain, but I felt like she never grew up in the story. She just stayed at the same level of villainy as when she was a girl in her early 20's when I expected her to get more cunning and devious with age. There are other great secondary characters in this book that really help the story and hold the book together.
  • (3/5)
    A guilty pleasure -- I started Friday evening and read the night through. I decided on this rating because of the anachronisms and so many black-or-white-only characters. The author is quite a storyteller and the book just swept me along. I picked it up only because of the author's short story "The Senator" in A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, where she mentions somewhere in the Notes she's written a novel covering the senator [Marcus Vibius Norbanus, a main character and thoroughly decent man] and Lady Diana [who never appears in this novel but is only mentioned as the horse-mad aunt]. There's a good dollop of soap opera here in Roman clothing, but I was probably in the mood for something like this. A light read.
  • (2/5)
    I started reading this when I was in Rome, quite some time ago, and I just picked it up to start again today, and wondered why I'd kept it around and sort of on the go for so long. Something about the opening paragraph just struck me as so clumsy: yes, it's attention grabbing, but it calls up associations with self-harming sulky teenagers, not Ancient Rome -- for me, anyway. I mean: "Would this be the day I watched my young life stream away into the blue pottery bowl with the nice frieze of nymphs on the side?" Clumsy.I know others like it, and I suspect it could be fun guilty pleasure reading for me, if I could get back into it, but I just can't. None of the characters are likeable or charismatic, and the sense of place could be improved -- it was easy enough to imagine when I was reading it propped up against the warm stones of the Coliseum in the Italian sunshine, but reading it now didn't bring that back.Plus, this seems to have a lot of romance trappings, but right now my taste for that lies in a different era entirely -- to the extent that I even have a taste for romance. So, chalking this one down to "not for me". Two stars because I think I did rather like it, the first time I got partway through it.
  • (4/5)
    I really did like the story in the Mistress of Rome, yet some of the writing was a bit confusing. She would change the time of the action from one sentence to the next, so it was hard to tell if what you were reading was happening now, or it happened in the past. If you can get past this, there are some great characters in this book.

    You will cheer for Thea, and hate Lepida, and well the rest you just have to make up your own mind on.

    Mostly the stars went for the story, it wasn't a five star and four may be pushing it as well, but a solid 3 and a half is the best bet.
  • (5/5)
    Gods, I love this book. Kate Quinn is fast becoming my favorite femme author. She makes the past so real to me, so tangible. These characters went through things so similar to my own trauma, but she told it gently, and it was easy for me to slip inside the skin of Thea as she sang in a quiet bathhouse, into Arius as he shifted the shield to settle firmly on his arm and the burning muscles after a hard day of labor. And Marcus, sweet Marcus was my second favorite with his library and traveling with his books and scrolls and endless need to answer the call to serve. I loved this book. It made me laugh and cry and ache, and I'm so ready for the next chapter in this story.
  • (5/5)
    Mistress of Rome is one of those books that grabs you from the very beginning and never quite lets you go. Action-packed and filled with cliff-hangers, historical fiction doesn’t get more thrilling than this! There were god-like gladiators, scheming slave women, and emperors at their most licentious. There were wars, and whores, and love and lust…There were even times when I would be sitting at my desk at work, wishing I could go home early—not because I dislike my job (I love my job), but because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in the book!Regular followers of this blog may already know that Latin was one of my favorite classes in high school, so Ancient Rome is truly a source of multi-faceted enthrallment for me. Some readers may be shocked to read about the gruesome gladiatorial games depicted in this book (though anyone who’s seen Gladiator should not be the least bit surprised), but as one who views historical time periods and the likes and dislikes of its people through a normative relativist lens, I could really dig in and enjoy the descriptions of the crowds watching the gladiators fight to the death in the Colosseum. Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant: “Hail Emperor, those who are about to die salute you”—a Latin phrase uttered by gladiators just before their match was to begin, and one that has been drilled into my brain since the ninth grade.Mistress of Rome takes place in the 1st Century, during the rule of Emporer Domitian. I thought the author handled the characterization of Domitian perfectly – in the beginning, you never really know which way he’s going to go…is he slightly twisted but misunderstood, or is he truly just outright evil? And Thea is intriguingly complex; a Jewish slave girl whose spiteful Domina Lepida Pollia is relentless in her mean-spirited torture of the poor girl, whose only desire is to live in peace with her gladiator inamorato Arius “the Barbarian.” Other side characters of real historical origin make interesting appearances throughout the book: Empress Domitia Longina, Nerva, Trajan, Vibia Sabina, Flavia Domatilla (later made a saint in the Greek Orthodox Church), and Julia Flavia.Contrary to many other reviewers, I liked that segments throughout the book switched between various character perspectives. I think this added to the author’s ability to leave us wanting more. Just as I thought Thea’s story could not get more interesting, something earth-shattering would occur and I would be left in suspense as that section ended and the whole tone of the next section switched to Lepida’s POV, picking up where her latest mischief had previously left off. The only aspect of this back-and-forth manner of storytelling that threw me off a bit was when it switched from first person to third person. The third person narration interspersed between the personal reflections certainly made things more interesting, but I received an ARC, and I hope that the final copy will contain more decisive section breaks, since the change in POV is not separated by chapters, but rather by multiple line breaks.Much of the dialogue overall was deliberately modern (which I didn't mind, since it was intentional - though it made me smirk to envision the Ancient Romans reciting lines like "I'll run the bitch over with my chariot"), and some of the Latin misplaced. For example, Thea gives her son Vercingetorix the nickname Vix, which depending on context, in Latin translates to the adverb “scarcely” or “hardly” or “with difficulty”. Vix’s character is anything but scarce! Also, Ancient Rome was a rather big and busy city and empire, too large, in fact, for the characters to have conveniently bumped into each other as often as they did in this book. That aspect didn’t seem very believable…but I found the plot to be so good that I could suspend belief and forgive these minor distractions.I must say, I had been waiting for this book to release since I first read about it maybe six months ago, and when I received a review request from the publisher, I was thrilled. Often times lofty anticipation can lead to a swift letdown, but Mistress of Rome far exceeded my already high expectations. The historical note at the end implies that a sequel is in the works, which I hope to be the case, as I’m eager to read more from this talented debut author!FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review.
  • (5/5)
    Lepida Pollia is either a complete bitch, or a spoiled, self-centred girl, or both. Someone really needs to tell her that the world does not revolve around her and that being a slave does not automatically mean that Thea will never achieve anything great in life.

    Another thing, she really needs to stop opposing to Arius and Thea’s marriage, or union, or whatever you choose to call it. I mean, I get that she’s the villain of the plot (figuratively speaking anyway), but I think it’s a bit extreme.

    However, that’s about it as far as my complaints go. This book was perfect in every other regard. The depiction about the typical life of a salve (except for the last part) and her relationships with her mistress if very well-written, and I’m sure I’ve learnt more from reading this book that researching for a few hours.

    I loved the ending as well. It was probably my favourite part of the book (the fact that endings usually are my favourite part of the book is of course, totally irrelevant). I loved how Thea decides to keep her pregnancy quiet until they reach land, knowing that it would only aggravate Arius. It was really sweet, and demonstrated with eloquence how deep their love for each other was.
  • (4/5)
    I found this to be a fast-paced book with great characters. It captured me immediately with the scene of a young woman cutting herself. Brilliant! Quinn definitely subscribes to the "torture your characters" school of writing. All the sympathetic characters suffer emotional and physical upheaval in various fascinating settings. My only small nit is that Lepida is a one-dimensional character, more of a plot device to screw over the other characters at appropriate points, than a real person. I have no doubt that such self-involved people exist, but they make less satisfying antagonists. Domitian, on the other hand, was wonderfully delineated--complicated, cruel and unpredictable. This story received the ultimate compliment from me after I've read a good HF--I immediately pawed through my research books to check out the history behind the fiction. Well done!
  • (4/5)
    What a breathtaking gripping historical fiction! I couldn't stop reading. Diving into Ancient Rome was a very easy task. Following all the network of intrigues was a great pleasure. Sometimes I got the feeling that I am an observer experiencing all the smells, music and gatherings by myself. All the characters are inimitable and so profoundly described that I've got the feeling I must know them since a long time.I can strongly recommend it for all friends of the Ancient Rome period.
  • (5/5)
    Mistress of Rome is a compelling read as it is gripping. I was immediately drawn in the story from page one to the end and it was so tastefully done that I stayed up all night reading instead of sleeping! That's how good the book was.I liked how Ms. Quinn tells the story by using relevant character's point of view. That way we're able to see their motives and desires clearly and relate closely to them. Thea, with her belief and strength, makes a wonderful heroine. Needless to say that I was cheering for her throughout the book. Arius, our brooding hero; one of the best hero I've seen in a while. Lepida, the full-fledged bitch. How I was itching to slap her senseless! Not to mention that the novel is rich in historical detail and description. I could almost picture myself there, standing in the middle of all the hubbub, watching the games and so on. I can't wait to pick up the author's next book!
  • (5/5)
    Kate Quinn makes no mistake in showcasing exactly what life could have been like in Classical Rome. Emperor Domitian is a strong Emperor but one fucked up guy behind closed doors. His assassination by a slave really isn't a surprise, as most Emperors back then were pretty much knife holders. I enjoyed the story, the hatred for her characters, the empathy for the plights of others and the sense of how one can see how our world became what it is with the world that created it. It was a great story and I can't wait to read more by this author.
  • (4/5)
    Quinn convincingly conjures the terrifying reign of Emperor Domitian in her solid debut that follows the travails of Thea, a slave girl and mistress to the emperor. While she is tormented by Domitian, she holds her secrets—a gladiator lover, a young son—close. When these facts are brought to Domitian's attention by Thea's jealous rival, Thea takes drastic actions to secure her family. Quinn's command of first-century Rome is matched only by her involvement with her characters; all of them, historical and invented, are compelling and realistic, and she explores their dark sides without crossing into gratuitousness. Readers will finish eager for a sequel, which is a good thing because Quinn has left the door wide open for a follow-up. This should make a splash among devotees of ancient Rome. (Apr.)
  • (4/5)
    This book is primarily about Thea, a Jewish slave girl living in ancient Rome, but also has a cast of characters that includes the Emporer of Rome, Thea's previous owner, the incredibly vicious Lepida Pollia, and a gladiator named Arius, amongst many others. It's a tale of intrigue, wrong-doing, cruelty, love and fighting.This book was a book group choice, and I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. However, once I was into the story I found I raced through it and ended up really enjoying it. The second half in particular is very fast-paced. I wouldn't say it's a book that has much depth or substance, but it is a very good read and it wasn't bogged down with all the historical aspects of ancient Rome.This is a page turner of a book, and I will look out for Daughters of Rome, Kate Quinn's second book.
  • (4/5)
    Mistress of Rome is one of the better novels that I have read recently. Kate Quinn has done an excellent job of recreating Ancient Rome with all of its passion and blood. The central character of the slave Thea and the gladiator Arius are complex and interesting, making one eager to see how their lives play out. Full of twists and sordid affairs, Mistress of Rome makes a fun read with everything one expects from a tale set in the Roman Empire.
  • (5/5)
    This book was really interesting. I loved Thea, the powerful slave/singer/mistress. I can't wait to read Kate Quinn's next book.
  • (3/5)
    Kate Quinn's debut novel Mistress of Rome is an amazingly epic, sweeping tale of romance, power, history and war. Not only does it combine fascinating history and well-woven fiction, but it also combines some literary elements with modern themes that keep the story interesting.Mistress of Rome follows the tale of Thea, a young Jew who is purchased as a toy for the spoiled Lady Lepida, a Roman noble. Lepida, like many Romans, is a fan of the violent games, and more importantly, of the gladiator Arius. Though Lepida makes many attempts to win Arius's love, he has eyes only for Thea. Once Lepida discovers this, she has the Thea sold off, ripping the couple apart. Thea, now with child, must find a way to survive. Using her talent as a singer, Thea finds a way back to Rome and into the bed of the most powerful man in Rome: the emperor.Filled with complex, well-drawn characters, Mistress of Rome is a wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable read. The plot is full of unexpected twists, and Quinn's writing is masterful. She manages to paint a clear picture of Rome as well as characters that readers love to cheer for and love to hate.This book is perfect for fans of historical fiction and well-written, character-centric stories that don't let you go until the very end.
  • (4/5)
    I did not think I would have much interest in this book but read a few good reviews so decided to sign up for it with early reviewers. It sat on my shelf for quite awhile before I decided to pick it up. I only wish I would have done so sooner! This book was well written and exciting. I found myself wrapped up in the love story and I could not put it down. Others have done a better job describing the particulars, but I throughly enjoyed it despite some of the historical inaccuracies.
  • (3/5)
    I was torn between 2 and 3stars on this one.  I am not a history snob where every fact must be checked and verified.  But major themes must be based on fact.  I find it hard to believe that many slaves were into self mutilation.  And I do know that historians now believe that most gladiator matches were NOT to the death.  It would have been a financial nightmare for any lanista if after months/years of training one were to lose a top player.  I feel the book lacked historical context.  I could be reading about the mistress from any emperor during all of Rome's history.  Without a good historical basis I feel the book resembles a harlequin romance not literary historical fiction.  Having said all that I still gave the book3 stars because it was a very nice love story.  I was drawn into Thea's and Arius's love story.  I wanted them to find a way to be together at all costs.  Their pure love stands in extreme contrast to any of the affairs that Lepida worms her way into.  Some of my favorite parts of the book involved the scheming Lepida!  Ms. Quinn was at the her very best when she wrote Lepida's part!  I really would have enjoyed this more had it been marketed as a romance not as historical fiction.    
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this first effort by Kate Quinn. From the first paragraph the reader knows the author will be giving her readers a different sort of heroine in Thea, survivor of Masada, slave, lover to a gladiator, and then to an emperor. The novel picks you up and carries you along at a nice clip until, towards the end, in fine storytelling mode, the plot twists and turns to the fascination - and satisfaction - of the reader.I look forward to Ms. Quinn's next novel, Daughters of Rome.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book. The story is good and it's very interesting how all the individual characters are drawn together into a shared history though their stories don't start out that way. I'm not sure whether I liked the multiple narrative through each character. On one hand it was interesting to hear individual voices. On another, it seemed like a way to get out of developing the characters more fully. I think they would have been much more three dimensional if I had had to learn about them through their actions and words rather than their thoughts. I think it would have made the characters more mysterious and the story more engaging.
  • (5/5)
    It’s been a while since I’ve read a very good historical fiction This is one of the best I’ve read so far. There is lots of fighting action (gladiator fights), romance, and lots of drama. Just the way I like it in historical fiction. However, what I love about this book is, that it moved me in many ways. The emotions in this book was like a roller coaster. You were happy one minute, the next you were sad, and then you were boiling in rage (usually because Lepida is such a ...witch..to say the least). The plot was well done and well written. It’s been broken into several point of views of different characters so you get to see the story in different angles which is certainly nice to see and adds more to the book.The characters in this novel were excellent. The chemistry between potential pairings were really well done and well written. Of all the characters, I liked Thea and Vix. Marcus also held a soft spot for me too. I was glad Thea wasn’t written out as a damsel in distress type of heroine. I noticed as the story progressed, she became stronger and I admired her even more for standing up to Domitian and to not to give in to what he wants. What I also enjoyed reading was, every female in this book had their strengths (and of course weaknesses) but their strengths were much more prominent and focused in the book. Vix made me laugh, because although he was a brat, he had the best insults and comebacks I have ever read. I liked how he wasn’t afraid of Lepida, even though she had the means to get back at him and potentially kill him. I hated Lepida. Oh wow did I ever hate her. I’ve hated some characters in the past but Lepida wins all the medals for being villain of the year. She’s scheming, cruel, nasty, evil, vile, all the names you can think of that are negative. In fact, Calpurnia sums it up by saying that she’s “the most criminal wife in Rome”. Calpurnia actually calls her several colorful names which I enjoyed reading and laughing at. (Lepida gets what’s due to her in time so reading the book and seeing her fall is quite a treat). The only criticism I find in this book is it shifts from first person to third person quickly and I’m not sure why it’s been done this way. It’s a little strange but it’s not enough to distract the reader from reading and enjoying the story. Some readers might find that a little irksome - however it didn’t bother me.So far, I think this is one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in 2010. It’ll be hard to top this one off. Fans of Ancient Rome will love this novel and will become attached to this story as I am. I think this book is definitely a keeper.
  • (5/5)
    A fast-moving Historical novel, with plenty of research behind it. This is a fascinating novel about a young girl who survived Masada and was placed in slavery in Rome, where she became a "mistress" to her master and eventually the Emperor Domitian. She falls in love with a young gladiator slave from Britannia, and yet they are separated for many years. A sequel is obviously in the making, and one to watch for as well.
  • (5/5)
    I'm not going to lie, this book was amazing! Easily going to be in my top reads for 2010.Mistress of Rome begins with a 15 year old Thea, slave girl to Lepida Pollia. Thea is constantly put down and abused by Lepida. She's also used by Lepida's father from time to time. Lepida is a very jealous girl, who is also 15 when our story begins. This is the age of gladiators and a new star is rising: Arius. He's a real brute of a man, he doesn't follow other gladiators' leads by cultivating public favor...which makes him even more favored by the public. He wants nothing to do with people - he's a savage. And Lepida wants him. And in an effort to win his attentions, Lepida has Thea running as her messenger. Which backfires big time when Thea breaks through Arius's inner walls and they fall in love.But jealous Lepida cannot leave the lovers alone. Since she can't have Arius, no one can. And she ruthlessly sells Lepida to a brothel in a coastal Roman town. This destroys Arius. And he becomes even worse than he was before.Meanwhile, Thea is rescued from the brothel by a music lover, who trains her with different instruments and refines her singing voice. Thea is transformed into Athena and eventually becomes the lover to Paulinus, Lepida's husband's grown son, who Lepida wants to seduce, not realizing his mistress is Thea. Once Lepida seduces her husband's son, she quickly turns her sights onto the Emperor himself. Which is too bad because Thea unwillingly catches Domitius's eye as well.So here we have Lepida who believes she should be the center of attention, and she finds her dreams thwarted at every turn by her slave girl. This creates a deep hatred in Lepida and she sets out to destroy Thea.This is the very basic plot for the Mistress of Rome. There is soooo much more going on and I know there's no way I can do this book justice - it was so intricate and all the political machinations crossed pathways and each character was connected to the other without even realizing. But at it's heart is Thea and Arius, and throughout their separation, we are totally rooting for these characters to get together. And I was so caught up in all the plots and intricacies to this book. So rich!The only thing I have to say negative about this book is that the beginning is a bit slow. But just plow through that (it's not horrible, just a bit tedious) and you are very richly awarded with this amazing story.There's a rich cast of characters, and each one is well drawn. The Emperor Domitian is a frightening man - Thea does not go unscathed by catching his eye. But Arius. I loved him. I just wanted to watch Gladiator after reading this book (so I did). And the setting! I could clearly see Rome and the fighting arena and it was just so lush.For a debut effort, Mistress of Rome was truly engrossing. It's getting a solid A from me and I cannot wait to read Kate Quinn's next novel. As I stated earlier, this book is going to be listed as one of my favorite reads for 2010.
  • (4/5)
    As Thea, a slave from ancient Rome, tirelessly works to please her domineering mistress, she finds no pleasure in the monotony of her days. But one day she unexpectedly crosses paths with one of the most famous gladiators of the time, a brutal man named Arius, known to the public as The Barbarian. Thea and Arius quickly become entangled with one another but are brutally separated by Thea's manipulative and cunning mistress, Lepida Pollia, who desires Arius for herself. Thea is at once sent to live at the mercy of men but soon finds herself the slave of a generous man who cultivates a house full of talent. Soon Thea is reinvented as Athena, a singer and lute player that captivates even the most lofty patricians. As Thea rises to stardom, she keeps many secrets about her past and longs to one day be reunited with her famous lover. But fate is not kind to Thea, and when she captures the interest of the the great Emperor Domitian, she finds herself in a new world of pain and uncertainty. Domitan, a savage man, quickly brands Thea as his own and begins to calculate frightening abuses upon her, but underneath it all, Thea remains resolute and strong, never expecting the day when Arius reappears in her life. But Arius and Thea are not free to find their happiness in each other and must face down not only an Emperor but some of the most shrewd and calculating enemies ever to walk the streets of Rome. In this thrilling tale of historical fiction, the underbelly of Rome is most deliciously explored and exposed through the eyes of the colorful cast of characters who will all share a part in the unfolding drama of two rather remarkable slaves.When I first picked up this book, I was somewhat discouraged. You see, I was sure that I had read this story before. I mean, it wasn't so long ago that I reviewed both Cleopatra's Daughter and The Forgotten Legion. I figured that this book would be just another mix between a gladiator and a slave story and that I had probably been through all of this before. What I got was an entirely new story, filled with breathtaking action, intriguing drama and a pretty darn good love story. I guess by now I should know not to walk into any book with preconceived notions, because more often than not, I am completely wrong.Mistress of Rome is a story told through several vantage points. Through the eyes of Thea the slave, Lepida the Mistress and quite a few others, the tale of Thea and Arius begins to take shape, pulling several other players into the drama. As chapters move successively forward, the vantage point shifts and each character continues on with the story, reflecting on how the unfolding drama impacts them personally. I liked this technique and thought it was extremely well done here. Each of the characters had a distinct voice and focus, and through the flavor of those voices, the story came alive into an all encompassing tale that lived and breathed. I think I enjoyed reading the sections from Lepida Pollita the best. Though she was the character that I most wished would be crushed by a war horse, I found myself engrossed in her opinions and behaviors. I guess she was the character I loved to hate and I loved getting into her head and trying to figure out what she was going to do next.Though the story was filled with twists and turns, I didn't get the feeling that the plot line was convoluted or unbelievable in any way. The story was told in a matter-of-fact way with little room for flight and fancy. Though some of the sections relied on coincidence, I didn't feel that the plot was orchestrated by it, or that there was not enough left to chance. Though this story was mostly centered around Thea and Arius, there were several other strong plot lines winding their way through as well, and each got a fair share of attention. I think it's kind of tricky to tell so many stories from so many perspectives at once, but I felt that Quinn pulled excelled with the drama and action that surrounded the lovers' story. She has a great way of making all of it relevant and interesting, and every time the story broke away from the couple I waited with interest to see where she was going next.I do think a lot of this book was sensationalistic; that's one of the things I liked about it. Although most of the time I am looking for books with a very literary feel to them, sometimes it's nice to be able to enjoy gobbling down something that you consider literary junk food as well. This was the kind of book that kept me turning the pages for that very reason. Things were messy, violent and dramatic, and I must say that I had a heck of a time putting this book down due to the great development of the plot. It was a fun read that had me shaking my head at the intrigues and betrayals on every page, and the more I let myself get carried away with it, the more I became enveloped in the story. It was the kind of book that you keep by your side at all times, just to have it close to you should you get a few minutes to read.I also think the crafting of the story was done very well. Things that didn't seem very important in the beginning went from window dressing to integral plot point towards the end, and the character creation was out of this world. I liked that the bad guys were horrible and the good guys were blameless. Such stark black and white doesn't always work so well for me, but in this book it was very fitting and it made the book more enjoyable. There was a lot of good storytelling here, a lot to keep its audience at the edge of its seat, and a lot to keep them coming back. One of the things I most liked was the way the characters' stories all folded in on each other and created a sort of framework for the story to hang upon. It was interesting to watch both how the story was being constructed and the story itself, and I spent a lot of time being impressed with both aspects.This is not the type of book that's going to win any literary awards but I urge you not to hold that against it. It's a really riveting read for a lot of reasons, and I found it to be a lot of fun to while away an afternoon with. There's enough drama and action to satisfy picky readers and the characters within are interesting creations that haven't been seen before. I think this book would make an amazing beach read but I wouldn't limit it to that. If you are looking for the reading equivalent to some good junk food, I would definitely tell you to look here. It was a lot of fun to make my way through this book and I think that it would appeal to many others as well. A really fun read. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    At first I wasn't really sure what to think of this book. The constantly changing narrative was a little confusing at first and Rome unfamiliar to me. After the first fifty pages, however, the story took off like gang busters. We're given a story that revolves around deciet, secrets, old myths, thrilling battles and incredible characters. While the revolving narrative is still a little confusing, it's all good. Mistress of Rome is an amazing, wonderful, incredible read.