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Mistress of Rome (Empress of Rome) by Kate…
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Mistress of Rome (Empress of Rome) (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Kate Quinn (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6775525,673 (3.89)29
Beautiful and musical Judaean slave Thea attempts to survive and prosper in first century Rome despite a spiteful mistress, a broken love affair with a gladiator, and, most dangerous of all, an interested Emperor.
Member:MellDK
Title:Mistress of Rome (Empress of Rome)
Authors:Kate Quinn (Author)
Info:Berkley (2010), Edition: first edition ?; First Printing, 470 pages
Collections:To read
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Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn (2010)

  1. 00
    The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Though the stories are set in different time periods, both show the struggles of a strong young woman against a powerful ruler. Both also have a similar fast-paced, soap operatic feel to them.
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» See also 29 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Great epic story. I loved the characters and the twisting story. ( )
  MariaGreene | Jun 30, 2021 |
Wow. Everything that you could want from historical fiction, or a good story, is done flawlessly in this sweeping, thrilling tale. I always recommend this book to people, especially if anyone even hints at any slight interest in HF - I point them straight to this book.

Mistress of Rome follows Thea, a young Jewish slave girl when the story begins, as she meets and falls in love with a gladiator, rises in station, and ultimately ends up attracting the attention of the savagely cunning emperor of Rome.

There are so many delicious elements to this book that pulled me in, and so many vivid characters that you will feel are so real - for better or worse. The heroes are done so well; the prickly, defiant Thea, her loyal friends, her tormented and determined gladiator lover, are all characters that I grew to love, and still remember so clearly, despite having finished this book a year ago.

And then there are the enemies. Quinn is certainly up there in her talent for writing the most hated, best (worst?) villains I have ever met in fiction. She conjures up terrible, terrible people that you will absolutely loathe with a passion. I remember this was a strong point in her also excellent book The Alice Network, and she has done it again here.
Lepida Pollia (still to this day, hearing that name sparks a flare of hatred from me) just might be the most awful villainess I can think of in any book. The sadistic emperor Domitian is another chilling villain.
With our beloved heroes up against such loathsome, evil villains, the ending in which the bad guys get their just deserts are intensely satisfying.

All of the rest of the elements of the book come together perfectly: the setting of ancient Rome comes to life, the plot is incredible. Quinn is a master at keeping you reading, weaving in thrilling excitement without anything ever being overdone. The years slip by in this novel, and I loved the sense of passing time.
And it all builds to a thrilling, high stakes climax that had me on the edge of my seat.

Reading this book is an experience, a vivid and exciting journey that you take with the characters. Highly recommended. ( )
  joririchardson | Apr 18, 2021 |
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.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
4.5 stars. I bought this on a whim because it had the potential to be very entertaining (or very disappointing). Fortunately, at least in my opinion, it was very entertaining!

But, it IS the kind of book where you need to really be in the mood for it and level-set your expectations. What I mean by that is, if you see the cover and read the description and think you are going to get a Pride & Prejudice-esque novel set in Roman times, you will be gravely disappointed—and maybe even alarmed. This book is historical and it has romance and it has fascinating descriptions of clothing and food and jewelry and courtly life, but it is also full of gore, violence against women (including triggers like rape, incest, and physical abuse), cringe-worthy levels of betrayal and revenge, espionage, murder, politics, and morbidly fascinating drama.

Quinn writes deliciously evil characters but also wholly lovable ones, and ones in between. Despite how many characters are in this (and how many of those characters have multiple names and/or titles), I was able to keep track of everyone and the plot, which was a big thumbs up.

The middle third was a little slow (which is weird to say, given what happens), but the first third is very readable and during the last third I could not put it down AHHHHHHH.

It took me two months to read, but that is not a remark on how engaging it is. I started reading this in short stints on my Kindle during breaks at work and got about 2/5 through, then last week I finally ordered the paperback and once it arrived, I breezed through it in two days. (I've lately been finding it easier to read hard copies—I think because it transports me more thoroughly into the world a book is creating during a time when none of us can really go anywhere. ^_^)

I do intend to finish this series at some point (I have other books waiting in the wings right now and also I think the second one may be difficult to get through, given the reviews I read), and I could see reading this first one again, so I think this whole series may have reread potential, which is a bonus. ( )
  wordcauldron | Apr 1, 2020 |
Love it! I've read it twice now and I devour it each time, I just can't put it down. ( )
  Linyarai | Feb 16, 2020 |
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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.
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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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Beautiful and musical Judaean slave Thea attempts to survive and prosper in first century Rome despite a spiteful mistress, a broken love affair with a gladiator, and, most dangerous of all, an interested Emperor.

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