Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn
Book 4 in The Empress of Rome series
Kindle e-book, 528 pages
March 3, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from the publisher for review (also purchased my own copy because I didn’t like the formatting of the ARC)
National bestselling author Kate Quinn returns with the long-awaited fourth volume in the Empress of Rome series, an unforgettable new tale of the politics, power, and passion that defined ancient Rome.
Elegant, secretive Sabina may be Empress of Rome, but she still stands poised on a knife’s edge. She must keep the peace between two deadly enemies: her husband Hadrian, Rome’s brilliant and sinister Emperor; and battered warrior Vix, who is her first love. But Sabina is guardian of a deadly secret: Vix’s beautiful son Antinous has become the Emperor’s latest obsession.
Empress and Emperor, father and son will spin in a deadly dance of passion, betrayal, conspiracy, and war. As tragedy sends Hadrian spiraling into madness, Vix and Sabina form a last desperate pact to save the Empire. But ultimately, the fate of Rome lies with an untried girl, a spirited redhead who may just be the next Lady of the Eternal City…
I posted an “in progress” review of this book back in March just after it was published as part of a tour with HFVBT, however at that time (due to the date the book arrived and the date I was scheduled on the tour) I had only had a chance to read about 20% of the book. And it took some time to finally finish it, but I now have a final full review.
First, I want to talk about the series itself. I had only read books 1, 2, and a fraction of book 3 in the series before starting into Lady of the Eternal City - so I essentially jumped right in to the middle of Vix and Sabina’s story. This is one of those series where I highly advocate reading the volumes in order for best character development and to get a full feel of the series. If pressed, at least read books 1 and 3 (book 2 is slightly along a different, earlier, story line – comprised of an entirely different cast of characters, so it helps set the period, but doesn’t much contribute to the need to understand the characters). That being said, I still found that I was able to follow along with their stories as there is enough background information to fill in some of the gaps and a could infer character development events (although I get the feeling that reading book 3 now will be a little less exciting as I now know the resolutions to things that would have only been introduced in the prior book). There even is enough reference to remind me of what happened in the first book, Mistress of Rome, which I read quite a while ago.
One thing that I found interesting in comparing my early perceptions of this book with my final thoughts was how my perspective of the characters changed. Early on I noted that I preferred the chapters from the perspectives of the adults as I didn’t find the importance of the children’s chapters…however…overall I found that I enjoyed the chapters of the children better. The adults were always either sad, angry, or brooding, while the children were having all kinds of adventures, emotional development, and things happening to them.
One reason it took me so long to get through this novel is that I put it down due to some stuff going on in my life at the time and just couldn’t find the excitement to go back and pick it up. I found the first third and last third of the novel to be riveting, but the middle (where I happened to put it down) was somewhat dragging to me – which felt a little unlike the experience I have had with other books by this author where I have been riveted the whole time. The war in Judea and the sulking/anger/issues of Vix, Sabina, and Hadrian just dragged for me. Once they got back to Rome I found the pace picked back up and I was sucked back in. That being said, Kate Quinn’s signature writing style is here in full force here – the wit and charisma of the characters just shines through the pages and that is something I always enjoy and look forward to in her books. I was a little afraid of how the book would end the series, but found the ending to be rewarding and appropriate and not at all how I feared!
This is the fourth novel that I have read by the author and it probably is my least favorite of them. However, please note that I hold Quinn’s works in high esteem and she is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, so even though this one was a little off of the mark for me in terms of her works as a whole, I still hold it highly compared to many I have read in the genre as a whole. I will definitely be going back to read Empress of the Seven Hills to get the backstory I missed out on as well as reading any other works by this author.
If you would like a preview of the story, check out this sample.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Kate Quinn:
Mistress of Rome (Book 1 in Empress of Rome series)
Daughters of Rome (Book 2 in Empress of Rome series)
Empress of the Seven Hills (Book 3 in Empress of Rome series)
The Serpent and the Pearl (Book 1 in Borgia series)
The Lion and the Rose (Book 2 in Borgia series)
A Day of Fire
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