Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review: Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)

"An exciting debut: a vivid, richly imagined saga of ancient Rome from a masterful new voice in historical fiction

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."

My Review

Traveling back in time to ancient Rome, we are greeted by an array of vivid characters; the first of which is Thea, a slave girl in the respected house of Pollio. Thea, having been purchased as a gift for the spoiled and haughty Lepida, is constantly being subjected to her mistresses whims and degrading critiques. Through this bleak existence, Thea finds unexpected love with the newest gladiator in Rome, Arius the Barbarian. Unfortunately, not even this one joy may be granted to Thea for long. Word of their affair soon reaches Lepida who also desires the attention of Arius. Driven into a jealous haze, Lepida separates the two lovers and sells Thea into nothing less then a deplorable situation...

Thea, Lepida and Arius continue on with their lives, each giving into their fated existence. Thinking the past is behind them, they are shocked when their lives intertwine once more. Lepida is still a malicious and conniving being who has now set her sights on the Emperor himself. Determined to raise her status to his mistress and future Empress, she is stunned to realize that Thea has once again obtained what she desires first. Enraged by always being rival to a slave, Lepidia will stop at nothing in seeking revenge and gaining what she truly deserves...

While Lepida plots her destruction, Thea is longing to be at peace with Arius; for little does Lepida know what she is truly wishing for with the Emperor. As tension mounts, betrayal, intrigue, murder and devious plots run rampant, but through the strong clash of wills, only one may come out victorious, but what costs will have to be paid along the way...

Mistress of Rome is a brilliant and unique story of ancient Rome that captivates the reader from beginning to end. In this novel ancient Rome comes alive through the characters and their activities, the most prominent being the gladiator games. While the gladiator games in this novel held true to their violent nature, it was done in a way that was not overly graphic but still emitted all its horrible attributes. In addition to the authors excellent description of  the gladiator games, she was also quite talented in eluding to the warped and violent nature of the Emperor without going to far. It was great to see the intensity and depth of this novel increase page after page. Starting out as an intriguing and lighter plot, the story soon takes shape with vile characters, strong emotions and twisting plot lines. Mistress of Rome is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you closing the cover quite satisfied.

A Little Extra:
Come back tomorrow for a great interview with Kate Quinn, the author of Mistress of Rome!

Don't miss the chance to win this exciting new novel! Be sure to enter in this months giveaway, where one lucky winner will receive a brand new copy straight from the publisher: Mistress of Rome giveaway!

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