by Kate Quinn
I really enjoyed Kate Quinn's soon-to-be-released The Alice Network, so I decided to try one of her other books. My local library had this one, Mistress of Rome, the first of (so far) four in her Empress of Rome Saga.
Nearly the entire story takes place during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, from 81 to 96 A.D. Thea, the main character, is a 14-year-old Judean slave at the beginning to another 14-year-old, the vain and selfish Lepida Pollia. The both fall for the gladiator Arius, a slave from Briton, but Lepida just wants to bed him - Thea actually falls in love. When Lepida learns of their affair, she sells Thea to a brothel far away. Eventually, Thea catches the eye of the emperor and becomes his mistress, thinking Arius dead. But of course he's not...
I found this story rather exciting (although a little sickening, with all the gladiatorial bouts). Thea is a complex character, as is Arius and some of the minor characters, while Lepida is just plain hateful.
Quinn works in a lot of real historical figures into her novel, although given the era and the lack of unbiased information from primary sources of the period, she can take a lot of liberties with the characters - so who knows, for example, if Domitian was as cruel as she paints him to be. She does mention five histories she used as references.
No matter. I was entertained, and I plan to read the rest of the books in the series.
© Amanda Pape - 2017
[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]