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. 🙂 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. 🙂 5 stars
To quote the band Queen, “Another one bites the dust.” Rome is going through emperors faster than Lincoln went through generals in the American Civil War. In fact, it is going through them so fast that Vitellius thinks he’s supplanting Galba who’s already been supplanted by Otho. A troubling time for the men and women who made up the bureaucracy that ran the Empire. Those are the main characters in this, the third volume of this marvelous series. The author once again conjures up a thrilling account of one of Rome’s more raucous and unstable times. She continues her fine descriptive powers and her frequent humorous touch right from page 1, “Beside them sat the boiled quail’s eggs, the roasted dormice, the crispy lampreys, and the steamed turbot that constituted Vitellius’ breakfast. This was the first course. There were another eight to come.” As this period in Roman history rolls on we get to meet some new characters as well as the old standbys like Mina, Sporus, Epaphroditus and Philo, who all shine by the way. We now get to meet the famous consort of Vespasian, Antonia Caenis; a formidable woman and Domitian, his younger son. The story is a rousing rendition of Otho’s attempt to ward off a coup and is done so in a fashion that had me alternately snickering at the antics of the characters but also in very poignant way that showed the anguish, uncertainty and sorrows of the campaign. A page turning delight with surprises galore as the story gathers momentum for the exciting finish. I look forward to the next edition. 4.7 stars
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