Written on: 20/02/2010 by Harriet Klausner (18660 reviews written)
Mistress of Rome
Berkley, Apr 6 2010, $15.00
In the reign of Emperor Domitian, Thea of Judaea lives in Rome having been purchased as a slave to Lepida Pollia. However, her owner becomes spiteful and outraged when the Jew and Arius the Barbarian gladiator become lovers. Lepida plans to end their relationship as she wants the savage as her pet.
Instead Thea survives as a singer concealing her son from her enemies. However, the Emperor Domitan becomes obsessed with Thea and makes her his present toy. She survives again her new lover's excesses only to have Lepida expose her to the Emperor of having a secret lover Arius and an offspring. Thea knows she must do something to save her family (her son and her lover), but how remains out of reach.
Mistress of Rome is a great late first century historical thriller driven by a strong cast especially the title character. Thea is a great lead protagonist, but in many ways Rome circa 82 AD owns the tale as the city comes across dark and decadent starting at the top with the brutal Emperor. Readers will relish this deep look at the Roman Empire ruled by a paranoid emperor who has cause for his paranoia, which he caused in the first place.