Lady of the Eternal City

Written by Kate Quinn
Review by Ann Pedtke

Kate Quinn’s masterful talents in portraying the ancient world have culminated in this fourth and final installment of the Empress of Rome series – a historical whodunit that reads beautifully as a stand-alone novel, and offers the character depth and literary form to challenge any critic who may claim that substance is lacking in the historical mystery genre.

Sabina, emerging heroine of Quinn’s Empress of the Seven Hills, is now Empress of Rome, and her hands are full with two volatile but brilliant men to control – Vix, her fearless former lover who now heads the Praetorian Guard, and Emperor Hadrian, her mercurial husband who ranges from brilliant visionary to sadistic despot at the careless flick of a hand. And then there is Vix’s adopted son, Antinous – the beautiful boy who is destined to remake the course of the empire (and its ruthless leader) with his gentle nature and compassionate soul.

Through the alternating perspectives of Sabina, Vix, their spirited daughter, and Antinous himself, Kate Quinn brings new depth to the very real centuries-old mystery of Antinous’ drowning in the Nile. Was it an accident? A suicide? A human sacrifice? Or something else entirely? More impressively still, Quinn is able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of telling a thoroughly affecting love story featuring a thoroughly unlikable character. Although history is silent on whether the emperor’s boy favorite felt anything for Hadrian in return, in Quinn’s world he does – and it is a passion so believable, so human, and so compelling that it snatches up every other character in its surge. No reader of this novel will ever see history in any other way again.