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Mistress of Rome

(The Empress of Rome #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  12,415 ratings  ·  1,301 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 483 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Berkley
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,415 ratings  ·  1,301 reviews

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Ana O
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it

“I love you. I love the way you rub the scar on the back of your hand when you're nervous. I love the way you make a sword into a living part of your body. I love the way you burn your eyes into me, as if you're seeing me fresh every time. I love the black streak in you that wants to kill the world, and the soft streak that is sorry afterward. I love the way you laugh, as if you're surprised that you can laugh at all. I love the way you kiss my breath away. I love the way you breathe and speak
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I took it because I didn’t know what to read next. I thought it will be some shallow romance story, but I was wrong. This book is great! It has everything: interesting plot (constantly something happens, this book is full of events, the plot doesn’t drag on), great characters (I loved narration from different points of view here, you get to know a whole palette of amazing characters) and quality – it’s very important that the book is well written, an ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Ok people, key word in the synposis is "depravity." I wish I had paid closer attention. I spent this entire novel trying to find a character I could at least like if not relate to in some way. It didn't happen.

Thea is a Jewish slave that works for Lepida, a Roman "lady." Both Thea and Lepida develope lustful feelings towards the newest, fiercest, most famous gladiator, Arius. The first quarter of the novel really drew me in as Arius spurns Lepida (she has the eyes of a ferret, apparently) and be
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical literature, spartacaus fans,gladiators
Recommended to Parvathy by: goodreads
The first time I realized I loved reading was when I was eight and had finished reading The Vicar of Wakefield. I still remember the feeling I had when I clutched the book in my hand and declared I loved reading. It was not because the particular book in question was extraordinary, regardless of its status as a classic, but it was the first time a book has completely captured my attention that everything else seemed pale in comparison. I have read a number of books after this one and loved a few ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
In between ARCs and my TBR shelf, I am revisiting some of my favorite books; specifically books that I read prior to my years on Goodreads. Mistress of Rome was my first Kate Quinn read and even eight years later still burns with 5 golden stars

Set in Ancient Rome and spanning the years 81 AD -96 AD, Mistress of Rome takes readers back into a city under the rule of Emperor Domitian. From political intrigues to the gladiators ring, this is a masterfully crafted story that I have returned to agai
While I liked this book a lot, I'm surprised so many reviewers have described it as literary... For me, it was a trashy potboiler, a definite guilty pleasure - albeit a very well-researched one with lots of enjoyable historical detail and exciting action. The vivid depiction of everyday goings-on in ancient Rome brings the period and settings to life in a way the modern reader can easily relate to; I can see this book being turned into a film or TV miniseries, in fact I wouldn't be at all surpri ...more
May 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I bought this on a whim. I didn't read the back, I didn't read any reviews, I certainly didn't read the page of critic's praise just inside the cover. Every time I've gone on these indicators lately, I've been incredibly disappointed. So, I bought this one based on--GASP!--the cover!

I was skeptical as the first several pages are describing a self-harming ritual of one of the main characters. I was even a little disgusted by such a transparent hook, but I found that I couldn't put the book down.
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

To my grandparents, Glenn & Marylou Reed-Quinn,who are no longer here to read this book, but who would undoubtedly have cracked a bottle of champagne & bought a dozen copies.

My favourite dedication of the year.

I didn't respond quite so strongly to the book. I don't need a likeable heroine - Forever Amber & Gone with the Wind remain as two of my favourite novels. I think the problem is that I felt nothing for Thea at all & found most of the other female characters more interes
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
Re-read 2019 for challenge

Its very rare that I give a book a 5 star rating , but once again this book deserves it.
This book from the start drew me into the story & the characters and wouldn't let go...I would put the book aside to slow down as I didn't want it to come to the end..and yet I kept picking it back up..and it kept drawing me back into Thea's & Arius lives & story.
The author writes in the first person for some of the characters which may seem confusing to some at first.
Sunny ✨wordslikefury✨
What the fuck did I just read? Never have I ever been this allured by a book in a severely very long time. This book has everything I could want in a novel: romance, a historical storyline, gladiators, atrocious villains, battle scenes, a Roman setting, and did I mention GLADIATORS?!?!?!


This novel follows multiple characters. You'll even get chapters from the villains. I have this thing where dark themes completely enamor me. Yeah...I'm a sadist. But this novel had my heart pumping from beginnin
Juliette Cross
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-faves-rereads
3rd Reread. One of my very favorite books. 5+ STARS

This book has all the elements of the perfect story, in my opinion. Danger, despair, hope, betrayal, revenge, murder, lust, and undying, unconditional love. And though this is accurately categorized as historical fiction, it centers around one of the best love stories I've ever read. EVER.
Abby Lyn
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book based on the cover recommendations of authors including Diana Gabaldon and Margaret George, and was not disappointed. This is a fun, enthralling romp through ancient Rome. I would classify this as more of a guilty-pleasure page-turner rather than literary as George suggests, but that is what makes it a great summer read. I would have preferred the author kept to either third or first person rather than alternating back and forth, and the dialogue was a bit modern American f ...more
Minni Mouse
That moment when you go in expecting a Roman version of a Regency-era historical romance...but instead you get a Gladiator-level storyline meets Game of Thrones-level cruelty and wickedness.

It's an understatement to say that this book took me by surprise. Given the pretty cover, the title, the genre listings, and the book description I was expecting either a corny historical romance novel or a silly, light-hearted story like Curses and Smoke. What smacked me in the face instead was a whole lo
Rebecca Huston
I tried very hard to like this one. Set in ancient Rome, during the reign of Emperor Domitian, it tells the story of two doomed lovers, Thea and Arius, who struggle not just for freedom but also to save their very lives. Along the way, we get a tour of the Colosseum's deadly games, with plenty of descriptive gore and violence, and if that's not enough, Thea's and Arius' abuse at the hands of others is also lovingly described. There's also Domitian, who is clearly just as mad as previous Emperors ...more
Jenny Q
4.5 Stars. Wow, what a story! I was under its spell from the very first page, and I could not put it down, mainly because I was instantly drawn to the lead characters, Arius and Thea. They are both slaves, subject to the whims of the Roman aristocracy. They are both fighting to survive: Arius in the arena, and Thea in the service of her truly awful mistress, Lepida. I loved them both, but my heart really went out to Thea. This was my first experience with a character who cuts herself, and I was ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction at its finest!!! I absolutely loved this book. Once I started it, I could not leave it. The story just flowed. The author was great at depicting all the characters in this book. I must say I loved Thea as much as I detested Lepida. I love fiction that takes place in ancient Rome and this book is definitely a winner.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mistress of Rome took some time to hook me, but when it did I couldn't put it down. I adored some characters and absolutely loathed others. A great character driven read.
Jeannie Mancini
The Nastiness of Ancient Rome

In Kate Quinn’s new debut novel Mistress of Rome, she presents the raw, blood and guts side of the ancient city and it’s people. I was eager to read this historical novel, this time period is one of my favorites. However, I can’t say I enjoyed it. I struggled and struggled and had to quit about 3/4 of the way through. I was astounded that on the cover of the ARC, there was an endorsement blurb by the queen of historical fiction, Margaret George, calling this book “li
twelvejan [Alexandria]
If I could reach for the stars, I would give it all to MOR <3

Have you ever read something that flows so smoothly, that the entire novel seems to unfurl in your mind to become such an epic movie? That is the brilliance of Mistress of Rome.

Quinn is a remarkable writer and storyteller. She flawlessly breathe life to her characters - each and everyone of them. She made you Thea, the slave girl turned singer turned Mistress of Rome. She made you understand Thea's pain, love, and heartbreak; when
Amy Bruno
In the summer of 1993 in between my junior and senior year in high school I had the unique opportunity to travel to Rome as part of the Travel and Tourism program at my school. We spent 9 days in Rome with a day trip to Florence and walked what felt like to be a gazillion miles. Though after a horrific experience with the taxi drivers of Rome, the walking didn’t seem all that bad after all! One of my favorite sights following, of course, the Sistine Chapel was the Coliseum. This massive work of ...more
Gina *loves sunshine*
I always love a book that brings me back to Rome - there is just something about ANY story that crosses through those streets! This one has it all - the love, the murder, the intrigue, the liars, the backstabbers, the mistresses, the slaves, the royalty, and the craziness that always comes along with Roman history and romance!!!!

There were sooooo many characters ~ some I loved, some I loathed. Characters that jumped off the page, and characters that made me yawn! Overall, it gave me a 3.75 kind
Krista Baetiong Tungol
I was never really interested in stories about gladiators and ancient Rome, but this book about a slave woman who falls in love with a gladiator during Emperor Domitian’s time and becomes enmeshed in a tangle of imperial politics and social injustices changed all that. I like how the fictional protagonists are sensible and astute, and how their characters perfectly blend in with the story’s historical backdrop and portrayals of real-life people, as if they too lived in the past. The story is eng ...more
Mishelle LaBrash
Bloody Fantastic Book.

Bursting with amazing characters, some you will fall madly in love with, while others you will just love to despise.

Corruption, Jeolousy, Murder, Conspiracy, Heartbreak, Adultry, Passion, and above all Love detail this courageous and brilliant first novel of the amazing Kate Quinn.

Fast paced, and jaw clenching, this is a story for the masses. A definate page turner, with a guarantee to keep you up all night, ignore the family, and sneak as many reading breaks from work a
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rome
Not a fan of romance novels but love reading about Ancient Rome? Give this book a try. I did and I'm glad for it. I was pleasantly surprised by Mistress of Rome. I really liked the writing style and I loved the characters. But I have other books to read Mrs. Quinn and now you've got me wrapped up in the lives of Arius, Thea, Vix, Marcus, and Sabina. It's on to book two for me. My favorite part of the book? "Ganymede...Ganymede...Ganymede.." (Take that you stupid bitch! hahaha)

I'd give this book
 While the book is not bad, it’s not all that good either. The language is modern in places, which was disconcerting.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Este libro es una auténtica telenovela romana. Tenemos un poco de todo intrigas y traiciones, romance y depravación, drama del bueno y acción sangrienta en el coliseo. Los personajes tienen mucha fuerza y están bien definidos. Parece que la autora se ha documentado bastante para escribir la novela pero no se ve suficientemente bien reflejada la época ni aporta información relevante, solo aporta una leve ambientación y algunos datos interesantes. Y seamos sinceros, calidad literaria NULA, aqui lo ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, what can I say that can express how much I enjoyed Mistress of Rome? Hmm. I enjoyed this book as much as I'd enjoy a quiet evening with Mr. Owen. Yes, that much.

I was swept into the story effortlessly and carried along with the characters. I went into the reading figuring as a first novel, if I enjoyed the read, as I've enjoyed other writing here by this author, I'd give it 3 or 4 stars. I'd read reviews about Mistress of Rome that made me nervous. The POV jumps, the 'gratuitous sex' and t
Julia Graf
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It was ok but had pacing issues, I found the ending a bit too convenient, and I'm not really enticed to continue this series just now.
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michelle Moran fans, fans of the HBO Show ROME
Shelves: historical
This was my kind of book!!! I purchased this bad boy for 3 dollars at Big Lots(who even knew they sold books) along with a couple others all under 5 bucks! Can't beat that. I had this book on my to-be-read shelf for quite some time, so naturally when I found it for so cheap, I was ecstatic.

Wahoo for cheap books!

The very quick synopsis: (spoilers)
This is a book about "old" Rome. We are following a slave girl whose lover is a gladiator, but their love gets separated when Thea's master sells her o
I started reading this when I was in Rome, quite some time ago, and I just picked it up to start again today, and wondered why I'd kept it around and sort of on the go for so long. Something about the opening paragraph just struck me as so clumsy: yes, it's attention grabbing, but it calls up associations with self-harming sulky teenagers, not Ancient Rome -- for me, anyway. I mean: "Would this be the day I watched my young life stream away into the blue pottery bowl with the nice frieze of nymp ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading Through T...: October Read: Mistress of Rome 2 15 Oct 20, 2015 01:41PM  
Rome: Mistress of Rome (bringing it all together) 1 11 Apr 11, 2015 10:01AM  
Rome: Mistress of Rome (theme: Blood) 1 5 Apr 11, 2015 09:37AM  
Rome: Mistress of Rome (Quotes) 1 4 Apr 11, 2015 09:10AM  
Beyond Mr. Darcy:...: September 2013: Mistress of Rome 4 19 Sep 25, 2013 02:25PM  
Round Lake Librar...: Mistress of Rome! 13 31 Apr 30, 2013 03:16AM  
Round Lake Librar...: Meetings in events calendar 4 11 Apr 29, 2013 12:57PM  

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Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network” and “The Huntress. ...more

Other books in the series

The Empress of Rome (4 books)
  • Daughters of Rome (The Empress of Rome, #2)
  • Empress of the Seven Hills (The Empress of Rome, #3)
  • Lady of the Eternal City (The Empress of Rome, #4)
“I love you. I love the way you rub the scar on the back of your hand when you're nervous. I love the way you make a sword into a living part of your body. I love the way you burn your eyes into me, as if you're seeing me fresh every time. I love the black streak in you that wants to kill the world, and the soft streak that is sorry afterward. I love the way you laugh, as if you're surprised that you can laugh at all. I love the way you kiss my breath away. I love the way you breathe and speak and smile. I love the way you take the air out of my lungs when you hold me. I love the way you make a dance out of death. I love the confusion I see in your eyes when you realize you are happy. I love every muscle and bone in your body, every twist and bend in your soul.” 121 likes
“Have you ever been - well, i mean, have you ever - really wanted someone ? Wanted them like water in the desert - even when you knew all their faults, every single one - and it didnt matter ?” 53 likes
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