Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
It's ancient Rome, and a Jewish slave falls in love with a Gladiator from Britannia. This begins the story of Thea & Arius, and their savage existence under Emperor Domitian's rule.
Sounds intriguing, right? If you believe the reviews it should be, but unfortunately for me, I could not get into this story. One hundred pages from the finish and I had to stop: It was impossible for me to continue reading, not even after I had subjected myself to 300+ pages.
I don't know how to categorise this novel: Is it hist-fic? Romance? Something else? Perhaps I have become too much of a history snob, but I did not feel the story centred around Domitian enough to be based upon his life, especially considering that most of the characters and events in the story are entirely fictional. For me, the story lacked historical substance, and that was the greatest disappointment.
Another major issue I had with this novel was that not one of the central characters was likeable, nor could I relate to or connect with any of them: I could not care less what happened to them in the end, hence the reason for my not bothering to find out.
The purpose of many of the minor characters I couldn't understand: There's nothing more annoying than to have a character appear seemingly out of nowhere, and have the author try and establish their background and purpose to the story in a single, random paragraph. At certain points in the story, I was close to pulling hairs!
I also didn't like the repetitive use of full names: It was unnecessary and added nothing to the story. Also, too many characters were inter-connected in too many ways. For example, why did all the characters have to have had sex with one another to be known to each other? I just didn't get it.
All in all, a disappointing read and not at all what I had expected.
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