How does a story filled with love, betrayal and more twists than you can count sound? A little too much like an episode of “Desperate Housewives?” Well what if I told you that this novel also happens to be a historical fiction set in Rome of ca. A.D.118-137? A little too much like a grocery store paperback? You could not be further from the truth.
National bestselling author and history buff Kate Quinn’s newest novel, “Lady of the Eternal City,” is a novel unlike any other that I have ever read. It’s a historical fiction that truly brings history to life. Circling the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian, Quinn manages to stay true to historical facts, all while putting life into and giving these important characters personalities. It is the fourth installment of the “Mistress of Rome” series that Quinn started back in 2010 and can truly be appreciated once one has read its predecessors “The Mistress of Rome,” “Daughters of Rome” and “Empress of Seven Hills” (although the second book can be missed). Reading these books would provide the reader with a background necessary to truly understand what is going on plot-wise, but the book is so well-written that I believe it can stand alone.
Meet Vix, the main narrator of this story. Although the entire story is told from the eyes of four characters, Vix (Vercingetorix the Red) is the only one given first-person narrative, showing the reader that he is indeed the one telling the story. The other three are his ex-lover Sabina (Vibia Sabina), their daughter Annia (unbeknownst to Vix) and his beloved son Antinous. Each character, other than Annia, is an actual historical figure.
Vix is forced to serve under Hadrian, an emperor he despises who happens to be married to Sabina, his own ex-lover. Right from the beginning, the reader is thrown into a complicated love triangle that only evolves into a rectangle and seems to be both breaking apart and reconstructing itself as the novel progresses.
Beautiful Antinous enters the scene later with headstrong Annia, and both are thrust into a world of deception, love and secrets that can only be described as the life of an emperor in Ancient Rome. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that Vix will constantly struggle with a decision he has been putting off for years, Annia will be challenged like she never has before, Antinous will battle with his own personal demons and Sabina will need to remain as cunning as ever. It is a dangerous position to be involved with an emperor as cruel and unpredictable as Hadrian, but our main characters will have to deal with it.
However make no mistake. This is not a purely romantic novel. There is just as much, if not more, action and secrets enveloped in its pages.
This book is full of love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal, life and death and more secrets than you think. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, Quinn makes sure to keep you on your toes.
Just know that with this book, bad times are not forever, but neither are the good times. You never know when someone may have taken their last breath, and you cannot be entirely sure of the fate of some of the most secured characters. Sadly, like in “Game of Thrones,” no one is safe.
But that’s what makes this novel so enchanting. It is with the actions of these main characters that Rome’s future is sealed. By the end, you will know who will live on as Rome’s ruler and who did not make it out alive.
This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone in the mood for reading a genuinely good book that will keep you busy. There is never a dull moment in this novel, and it is sure to keep you with bated breath until the final end, and boy is it an ending just as unpredictable and exciting as the beginning.
For you history buffs out there, worry not: A history buff herself, it is with care and talent that Quinn weaves an intricate path for each character befitting of their history and their given personalities.
Whether you are a history buff, happen to love Ancient Rome or just want to read a good book that will keep you guessing, “Lady of the Eternal City” keeps readers entertained and guessing until the final page.
Book: “Lady of the Eternal City”
Author: Kate Quinn