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Mistress of Rome (2010)

by Kate Quinn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Empress of Rome Saga (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8716124,738 (3.9)34
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.… (more)
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» See also 34 mentions

English (61)  Spanish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Oh my gosh! This book was full of twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the novel. One of the greatest strengths Quinn has is creating flawed, complex, and fascinating characters. It would be so easy to make slave girl Thea or spoiled socialite Lepida cliches, but they weren't. I was able to reconcile Thea's imperfections and hope for her redemption. Lepida, while clearly a villainess, articulately conveyed her desires and fears so that, at the very least, you understood where she was coming from, even if you were praying for her downfall the entire time. For people who love redemption, you'll love the fantastic and dramatic ending!

After reading the Borgia Chronicles and now this, I can say another of Quinn's strengths is seamlessly blending fact and fiction. Yes, Quinn takes some liberties with dates and relations, but she does it so expertly that you don't notice. She also lists a short bibliography for fans who want to learn more, which is great. Even with those liberties, readers still come away with a better understanding of social status and gladiator life.

If I loved this book so much, why didn't I give it 5 stars? BECAUSE OF PANSY BOY PAULINUS! I have never hated a character more than Pansy Boy. Every time he narrated I wanted to throw my book against the wall. He is a walking cliche of the noble hero. Pansy Boy sees the world in black and white and refuses to believe that any of the women in his life know more than he does. HE REFUSES TO BELIEVE THAT THE NIECE OF THE EMPEROR KNOWS THE EMPEROR BETTER THAN HIM. I wanted to break his nose, and was so happy he got his just desserts at the end. Best part by far. ( )
  readerbug2 | Nov 16, 2023 |
Wow. Just... wow. To say that this was my favorite book of the year would be a serious understatement. It's clear that Kate Quinn did an incredible amount of research. The scenarios, the characters, the environment... they all rang authentic and true. I was so deeply enthralled while reading that I flew through the book in just a couple of days--and I'm typically not a binge reader. I adored Thea, Arius, Vix, Marcus and Sebina. I detested Lepida and Emperor Domitian, and I pitied Paulinus and Lady Julia.

While I read this book, I LIVED within its pages. It was me falling in love, me protecting my child, me in the gladiator arena smelling the twin scents of blood and terror. And even as I turned the final page, I was still there--the screams of the audience filling my ears, the taste of figs flooding my mouth, the feel of silk on my skin. MISTRESS OF ROME was a total body experience, immersive in the best way. I can't wait to read more books by Kate Quinn! ( )
  Elizabeth_Cooper | Oct 27, 2023 |
Mistress of Rome is a juicy historical saga by Kate Quinn, the author of the World War II novels, The Alice Network and The Diamond Eye. This is a story set against the power of Rome with it’s ruthless new Emperor, Domnitian. The main character however is a lowly slave, Thea, who is a Jewish survivor of Masada. She is slave to the vicious Lepida Pollia who sells her to a brothel when it becomes clear that the famous gladiator, Arius the Barbarian, prefers Thea to Lepida.

Because of her fine singing voice, Thea escapes the brothel and becomes a singer who is much in demand. She eventually is sent to sing for the emperor, and he in turn, decides to keep her and takes great delight in both abusing and torturing her. Meanwhile, Arius has become an enemy of Domnitian and to escape he fakes his own death. Both Thea and Arius are survivors and their love story is engrossing. At times Lepida was a little too viperous to be totally believable but she certainly kept the story interesting.

I enjoyed the book with it’s mix of romance and history, and was pleased that the author resolved her plot by using actual historical events. This is the first book in a trilogy and although Thea and Arius’s story has come to a satisfying conclusion, there are plenty of other characters that I would like to read more about so I will definitely be continuing on. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 1, 2023 |
BookBub 4/20/2023

FROM BARNES AND NOBLE: First-century Rome: One young woman will hold the fate of an empire in her hands.

Thea, a captive from Judaea, is a clever and determined survivor hiding behind a slave’s docile mask. Purchased as a toy for the spoiled heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea evades her mistress’s spite and hones a secret passion for music. But when Thea wins the love of Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator and dares to dream of a better life, the jealous Lepida tears the lovers apart and casts Thea out.

Rome offers many ways for the resourceful to survive, and Thea remakes herself as a singer for the Eternal ’City’s glittering aristocrats. As she struggles for success and independence, her nightingale voice attracts a dangerous new admirer: the Emperor himself. But the passions of an all-powerful man come with a heavy price, and Thea finds herself fighting for both her soul and her destiny.

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 Rome’s most powerful man lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.
  Gmomaj | Apr 20, 2023 |
It took me a few pages to get into this book, but after that I could not put it down. Really enjoyed the different stories within the main story and how everyone was connected. The author could of left us wondering what happened to certain characters, but didn't which I like. Recommend others to read this book!!!! ( )
  stark.reading.mad | Apr 2, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Quinnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abella, ÁlvaroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ayers, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Criscuolo, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hasselberger, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiley, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
I undertake to be burnt by fire, to be bound in chains, to be beaten by rods, and to die by the sword. 
-Gladiator oath
Dedication
To my grandparents Glenn and Marylou Reed-Quinn, who are no longer here to read this book, but who would undoubtedly have cracked a bottle of champagne and bought a dozen copies.
First words
I opened my wrist with one firm stroke of the knife, watching with interest as the blood leaped out of the vein.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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