My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book caught me off guard with the number of feels I felt while reading it. I didn’t have any expectations going into it since it was another of those random library finds that sounded interesting, but I can safely say I’ll be devouring Kate Quinn’s other Rome books.
I can’t really speak to historical accuracy since I only have a passing knowledge of Roman history, but Quinn’s Rome came to life quickly. It was easily accessible, as she gave us details in easily digestible amounts instead of dropping everything on us like a ton of bricks.
The highlight, though, was definitely the characters. I came to love them all, but most especially Vix and Titus and their wonderful friendship. I also loved Sabina and her thirst for adventure, as well as how she wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. I even sort of like Hadrian, despite the fact that he turned into a humongous jerk later on in the story, because even if he wasn’t the most likable character, I could still understand his motives. And Plotina…well, I can’t give too much away, but despite the fact that I spent most of the book wanting to punch her in the face, I grudgingly admired her scheming and ambition. Despite the epic scope of the things going on around the characters – politics, war – this book was definitely more about the characters.
Technically this book is part of a series (or so the almighty Goodreads tells me), but I don’t feel like I missed anything by starting with this one. For all I know there’s some background in earlier books that was relevant to this one, but I had an easy enough time following this book without having read the others, because it was its own self-contained story.
If you’re looking for accessible historical fiction bursting with intrigue and realistic characters, I highly recommend Empress of the Seven Hills.