Lady of the Eternal City: An Empress of Rome Novel (#4). Kate Quinn. Penguin Group (USA). March 2015. 528 pp. ISBN#: 9780425259634.
Hadrian, Sabina, Antinous and Vix (or “Vercingetorix the Red”) – these are the charismatic figures who change the face of Rome during Rome’s Golden Years! Hadrian has a brilliant mind and a hunger for knowledge that will shape Rome’s philosophy, art, architecture and religion. Initially, however, he displays a brutality that shocks friends and enemies, as well as the Senators of Rome. One might say he even loves the iconoclastic woman he calls wife and “Empress,” Sabina. But that love fluctuates between scorn and needy companionship. While she fulfills her duties as the first woman of Rome, Sabina’s chief role in this amazing story is that of peacemaker. She is the beautiful but fiery lady who can read Hadrian’s moods and knows how to placate him without giving in to his every whim. And she is the one who convinces him that being a just and kind ruler will earn him the love of Romans rather than a knife in his back or poison in his food or drink, a verifiable fact for all too many other previous Emperors of Rome!
Vix is Sabina’s great, passionate love that remains unspoken for so many years except for several fiery scenes when their mutual fire explodes in union and then is sadly followed by hatred and avoidance. Vix rises in the Roman army to become its battered but victorious leader. During the course of this story, he will battle his way across Europe, into Britannia and finally into Judea. The latter place is where he will lose everything he has loved and treasured and the scenes of this formidable war and battles are heartrending, to say the least. Wife and daughters choose Judea over Vix, and until the very end of the novel he will mourn their loss until a shocking revelation will change his life forever!
Antinous can hardly believe what Fortune has given him, the consuming love of Hadrian, despite the disapproval, sneers, scorn and bitter hatred of Rome’s citizens. He is so often called the “golden-curled boy” that one can almost see the figure who resembles more of a blonde God with curly hair than a frail, frightened but tender young man whose heart is claimed by the Emperor and trotted before the disapproving world. The latter will extract a vicious price because one enemy will choose to be the arm of censure in a tension-ridden scene that makes the reader hold his or her breath and then cry out in horror!
Custom and culture of various countries is given rightful place and described in beautiful, sensory detail. Lady of the Eternal City… is Kate Quinn’s best novel yet. She has obviously poured her mind, heart and soul into this moving story that captures the reader from the first to the last quiet page, with pages and pages of love, tears, conflict, battles, traitors, and so much more!!!! Plot is superb and characters are exciting, dynamic figures not to be forgotten and obviously based on meticulous research. In plain English, the lady knows how to craft a phenomenal story!
Superb historical fiction that this reader hated to end and highly recommends!