My Review: Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Mistress of Rome
by Kate Quinn
Copyright 2010
Berkley Trade
496 pages
ISBN: 9780425232477
Historical Fiction

From Goodreads:
First century Rome: a world of depravity, blood, and secrets. The enigmatic Emperor Domitian watches over all, fearing murder from every side . . . except from the woman who fascinates him most.

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea; musical, wary, and passionate. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea and her mistress will become rivals for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life – 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 streetwise child, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and ruthless Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: a slave girl who has come to be called the Mistress of Rome . . .

Based on the life and death of one of Rome’s most depraved Emperors.

My Review:
Lately I can't seem to get enough of fiction centered around the Roman Empire. After having read Francine Rivers, A Voice in the Wind and the sweet Christian romance, The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw which I really enjoyed I decided to read this general market fiction debut release by author Kate Quinn. I was not disappointed. I really loved the characters especially the Jewish slave Thea and the gladiator Arius.

The story takes place over more than 10 years and follows the lives of Thea, Arius, Lepida, as well as Emperor of Rome, Domitian and others. Each of the characters must deal with the demons of their past as well as the very present danger of living in Rome a a slave, a citizen or even as Caesar, "Lord and God." The depravity and debauchery of life in Rome is presented realistically with blood, violence and coarse language so be warned. That said some of the things that the characters said seemed a little "modern" for me but then again I'm no expert on Roman speech.

We meet the main character of Thea early in her life, at 14, and it is really hard to imagine how quickly slaves and women had to grow up during this time. Bought and sold for almost her entire life you want only good things to happen to Thea but of course at the hands of a jealous mistress fate was not on her side. Lepida is a character who you will love to hate. She is conniving and hateful to the end, the perfect antagonist! And whew that Domitian...what a completely evil man. But don't worry most of the characters like Marcis and Flavia aren't too bad so the book isn't without good people.

When all is said and done this was a really good book. I will definitely be looking for the continuing story of the children we met in this book, Sabina and Vix, in Daughters of Rome.

To learn more about Kate Quinn and her books visit:

*I traded for my copy on Bookmooch.*


  1. Ooh, this book sounds really good! I haven't read anything from this time period, but I love stuff about the Roman Empire. Great review, Renee! I'll be adding it to my reading list.

  2. Hmmm, sounds interesting but I don't think it's for me though. But the first two books you mentioned do sound like something I would enjoy so I'll have to add them to my wish list. :) Thanks for sharing.


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