Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinn

Mistress of Rome  (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate QuinnSeries: The Empress of Rome #1
on 2011-04-05
Pages: 400
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress.

I saw the description blurb—Spartacus for girls. Of course I had to pick it up as I just loved the series Spartacus Blood & Sands. This book read like a mish mash of Spartacus, Rome and the Gladiator. The story itself was interesting, but the narrator was unsuccessful in conveying the tone of the period. Given the entitlement, revelry and brutality of the period, the actual writing didn’t appear authentic to me. Words like “giggle” just don’t seem appropriate for the time period. The actual plot of the story was enjoyable, but the modern day language made this historical fiction diminished the quality of the work.
The main character Thea, reminded me of Naevia from Spartacus, with a touch of Kore. The character Arius, reminded me of Crixus, with a touch of Spartacus. They were victims of the republic and one couldn’t help but root for them to gain their freedom. Lepida Pollia, Thea’s owner was a good mix of Illythia and Lucretia, and thus I couldn’t wait for her to get her comeuppance.

The stories featuring the gladiators battles were not as brutal as I was expecting, nor where they memorable. The behind machinations for power and prestige, plus vengeance for wrong doing, gave this book the flavor associated with the Roman Empire drama. I love that time period because good didn’t triumph often. One had to be resourceful and adaptable, and make the proper alliances to elevate their position. Very dramatic stuff if you like characters with depth.
I think Senator Marcus was the unsung hero in this book and he was my favorite character. He was advanced for his time and he lost a lot for the love of his country. I enjoyed his journey the most.
I would recommend this book for someone who wants a lighter version of Spartacus and didn’t care for the “Spartacus Speak” as I call it. This book would make a good TV mini-series.

**Special Thanks to Tantor Media for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review

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