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Mistress of Rome Paperback – 10 Jun 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (10 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755357930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755357932
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

Product Description


`What a great book!...one of the best things I've read in months and months. Full of great characters... So gripping your hands are glued to the book, and so vivid it burns itself into your mind's eye and stays with you long after you turn the final page' --Diana Gabaldon

`Kate Quinn is a mistress of storytelling. She gives us a wonderful and intensely emotional spectacle, full of sound and fury. A deeply passionate love story, tender and touching, in the heat and danger of the brutal arena that was Ancient Rome. An exhilarating read. Quinn is a remarkable new talent' --Kate Furnivall

`A great, sprawling epic, very much rooted in the human dramas. The politics and cultural stuff is commuted beautifully through the adventures of these people we come to care about deeply' --Paul Magrs

`A heady and exciting rollercoaster of a tale set in the reign of Emperor Domitian. Based on actual events, the brutality and decadence of the times is brought powerfully to life in a gripping and entertaining way'

In this epic debut, Kate Quinn gives us a gripping version of 1st-century Rome...what seems at first to have all the earmarks of a straightforward romance expands to encompass greater themes, offering the intrigue of a political thriller and the depth of great literary fiction... Overall, Mistress of Rome is impeccably researched and beautifully executed. Such an accomplished debut can only augur many more impressive historical novels to come!
--Historical Novels Review, Issue 52, May 2010

`Fans of Philippa Gregory's books who have had enough of Elizabethan times will be entranced by this Rome-set debut....Awash with historical detail, this is a violent, passionate, compelling read.' --Elle Magazine

'a rollicking account...Thea's story rattles along with such infectious relish that the most pedantic classicist would be beguiled by it in the end.' --Daily Mail, July 2, 2010

`A riveting tale...glamorous and brutal, a heady mix of intrigue and combat, with added decadence and depravity...An exhilarating read.' MARIE CLAIRE --Marie Claire, July issue

`A wildly entertaining read, this vivid tale of scandal and romance will have you holding your breath with excitement.' --Now Magazine

Book Description

'SPARTACUS for girls' - this powerful Roman epic aimed squarely at the female market is perfect for all those who loved the HBO mini-series ROME, which attracted 6.6 million viewers on its BBC premiere

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a really good read. Excellently drawn characters about whom you cared very quickly. Romantic, but also bloody and the period is obviously well researched and vividly created without bogging you down in details. What historical inaccuracies there are (Christians weren't fed to lions at the Coliseum) are included, probably deliberately, to serve the story.

The book is in five parts and for the first four I thought that it was a brilliant book, Quinn is an accomplished story teller and quite realistic in terms of how hard life was for all but the patricians of Rome and how tough people had to be to survive it. The last part got a bit soppy and 21st century as the author tries to satisfactorily wind up the different characters stories.

The obvious comparison is with Gladiator Gladiator [DVD] [2000]and if you liked that you'll love this.

What's even more amazing is that this is a first novel. A big story and a book I couldn't put down.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. L. Rutter on 12 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Orphaned by Rome's savage legions, Thea, a slave girl from Judaea, has learned what it takes to survive. She knows only violence until a chance meeting with gladiator Arius offers a shred of tenderness. But their bond is severed when Thea is sold again, condemned to rot in squalor.

Years later, a singer known as Athena betrays no hint of her troubled past. Catching the eye of the Emperor himself, she is swept into a world of decadence and depravity. But althought Domitian fears betrayal from every side, he is unaware that the greatest threat lies next to him - a slave girl who has come to be called the Mistress of Rome...

It's hard to know how to review Mistress of Rome. On the one hand, I swept through it in one day, finding the prose to be simple yet effective and the historical details vivid. On the other hand, I felt that it came across much as a soap opera programme or chick lit novel would - light, easy-to-read, with larger than life characters and ultimately forgettable. Although I enjoyed the novel, I don't honestly see it staying with me for very long.

One factor that struck me while reading Mistress of Rome is how fantastical it seemed - when I thought on this, I believe it might be because of how long ago the time period being represented was. We know sweeping details of the Roman Empire - who ruled when, military campaigns, political machinations - but the real nitty gritty details and the secondary historical figures (those that didn't impact on history) have been lost, and hence the novelist needs to flesh out the missing elements.

The fantastical side to Mistress of Rome was not helped by Quinn including a character who could supposedly see the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hannah Lewis on 30 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
The first book in the series features main characters Thea and Arius, a slave and a gladiator who fall in love. While unfortunate circumstances rip them apart, they are reunited due to fact that they are the only two people in the empire who don’t fear the all-powerful Emperor Domitian. Domitian was probably my favourite character due to being so interesting and full of surprises (besides, I’ve always had a thing for villains). The author paints you into the life of Rome, the sights; the smells; the cheering of the Colloseum. At the end of the book I didn’t want to leave. I found myself researching the real life of Domitian in an attempt to make the story last longer.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andy Edwards VINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
Historical fiction is a crowded genre, particularly if Ancient Rome is it's location. It's all been done before, and in some instances, very well, so for an author there will be nothing new to present. Which makes it doubly important that you have a good story to tell, and you tell it well. Kate Quinn has taken that on board and she tells a tale intertwining an Imperial family and it's sycophants, and 2 slaves, which neatly combines the major aspects of Roman society.

The story unfolds though the eyes of the major characters, which allows the opportunity for some real depth, and it is to Quinn's credit that she handles fight scenes and Imperial banquets with equal aplomb, while also leaving much to the imagination of the reader. The Romans present plenty of opportunity for graphic detail with their brutal way of life, love and death, and rather than fall into the trap of detailing everything, Quinn prefers to hint and infer, other than some for the fight scenes.

As to the story itself, the detail of Roman life never overwhelms the pace, which is satisfyingly brisk and even some of the more unlikely elements seem believable, such is the skill of the author. There's everything here, from romance to depravity, from politic intrigue to the Arena and that makes this a book with very wide appeal. I liked it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book, having an inteerest in Ancient Rome. I've previously read Brenda Jagger's "Antonia" and "Aphrodite's Daughter" - books also touching on the year of the Four Emperors and events after but published some many years before "Mistress of Rome" and I believe, no longer in print, although it is possible to get hold of copies second hand. Certain passages within Kate Quinn's first book are almost word-for-word extracts from these much earlier books by Brenda Jagger. I wouldn't want to assert plagiarism, as the standard and quality of writing between the two authors was not really comparable, Brenda Jagger having a unique and mature writing style that Kate Quinn did not - on the release of this book - appear to possess. That made me uncomfortable reading the first book, which I found a little trite in spite of its subject matter. However, I would say I persevered with Kate Quinn's successive offerings "Daughters of Rome" and "Empress of Rome" (really to see whether the earlier attempts at emulation persisted!) and it's fair to say Ms Quinn's writing style develops markedly in these two later books. Having just finished "Empress of Rome" I can now honestly say her style of writing has matured, strengthened and become her own. I enjoyed what I read and felt much more at ease that the work I was reading had become entirely the product of her own ideas and not those of another author. The earlier similarities could have been co-incidence, but am not so sure..... whatever the truth as to that, Ms Quinn has evolved her own very creditable writing style.
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