Vitellius’ Feast by L.J. Trafford

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First things first – I’m going to be sad for a long time. This is the final episode in this, ‘the year of four emperors’, and this makes me sad. Now whenever I get a craving for the author’s very creative writing style I’ll be forced into a rereading her books – oh, wait a moment, that is actually a good thing. ūüôā¬† Alrighty then, glad to have thought this through, I feel much better; now onto the review of Vitellius’ Feast.

As with the other failed emperors, this particular failure is told from the perspective of the professional palace staff members, which means we get to follow the exploits of some of my favorite fictional characters (at least the one’s who have survived the previous failures). Philo, Epaphroditus, Lysander, Felix, Sporus, and Mina are all involved in various ways. At first, serving the new emperor, but in the end – well I best not go there, let’s just say that the author has once again bewitched me with her plots, subplots, and¬† surprises.¬† The interaction between the fictional characters and the historical figures is, as expected, flawlessly contrived; the description of Vitellius’ gluttony and abhorrent bedtime practices, the sometime comical interplay between Mina and Domitian, yes dear readers, the author is at the top of her game.¬† I expectantly await more from her.¬† ūüôā¬† 5 stars

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Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn

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Okay, I am now convinced beyond all doubt. ¬†I have read¬†Mistress of Rome, The Three Fates¬†and Kate Quinn’s contribution to¬†Day of Fire¬†and through reading these books I noticed that a certain amount of talent lie within her pen and keyboard. ¬†What put me over the edge in my nascent admiration, is chapter 17 in¬†Daughters of Rome,¬†the chariot race chapter. ¬†What Judah Ben-Hur and Messala did for chariot racing on the big screen, Kate does in chapter 17.for the written word. ¬†Now that’s not meant to take away from the rest of the book; oh no, not by any means. ¬†The author has portrayed four Cornelian noble women and their seeming ever changing fortunes during the infamous Year of the Four Emperors. ¬†With each new emperor a new level of growth for our four heroines from the loosening of Cornelia’s stubborn resolve to the change from the ‘oh woe is me’ Marcella to the ‘instrument of change’ Marcella. ¬†Lollias’ coming to grips with love and the sheer number of emotions experienced by Diana in chapter 17, well that alone is worth the price of admission, dear reader. Yes, I am convinced, Kate Quinn can write pretty good. ¬†5 stars

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

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‘A nicely done short that serves as an interim between Empress of the Seven Hills and Lady of the Eternal City. Certainly got me interested in reading the rest of the series.” ¬† That is what I wrote after reading The Three Fates, a fill-in short between books 3 and 4. ¬†With that bit of exposure to the author I plunged into book 1, Mistress of Rome having had my interest duly piqued. ¬†I must say that even with that bit of exposure I was still blown away with this tale of love, ambition and just plain survival. ¬†The story takes place during the reign of Domitian, or Lord and God, as he preferred to be called and is an interwoven tale that brings together a most disparate group of people. ¬†Thea, a slave who becomes Domitian’s mistress….Lepida, a rich, spoiled Roman woman consumed with ambition…Arius, a gladiator known as The Barbarian to name a few. ¬†Rome was a dangerous place and even more so when coupled with exposure to the Imperial court and the author does a marvelous job in making the reader feel the palpable anxiety whenever one is in the presence of the Emperor. ¬†Domitian is portrayed as a capable ruler but with a mercurial streak of sadistic behavior. ¬†While he does inflict a lot of pain, it is the character of Lepida that I found the most delight in loathing. ¬†Simply put, she is a devil-clawed seeker of pure naked ambition, ¬†Those are but two of the well done characters, characters that draw you into a comfortable embracing of what makes them tick. ¬†As to the tale itself, the plots are many, the twists and turns are eye-opening. ¬†If there is anything that I would complain about it would be these two things: (1. now I have another author to follow through this series and then her books on the Borgias…so many good things to read takes away from my time to write ¬†and (2. another author whose writing is so good that I despair in my own attempts. ¬†ūüôā ¬† ¬† ¬†5 stars ¬†Hooverbookreviews says, you gotta read this.

Biography

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.