Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Empress of Rome #4

Lady of the Eternal City

Rate this book
National bestselling author Kate Quinn returns with the long-awaited fourth volume in the Empress of Rome series, an unforgettable new tale of the politics, power, and passion that defined ancient Rome.

Elegant, secretive Sabina may be Empress of Rome, but she still stands poised on a knife’s edge. She must keep the peace between two deadly enemies: her husband Hadrian, Rome’s brilliant and sinister Emperor; and battered warrior Vix, who is her first love. But Sabina is guardian of a deadly secret: Vix’s beautiful son Antinous has become the Emperor’s latest obsession.

Empress and Emperor, father and son will spin in a deadly dance of passion, betrayal, conspiracy, and war. As tragedy sends Hadrian spiraling into madness, Vix and Sabina form a last desperate pact to save the Empire. But ultimately, the fate of Rome lies with an untried girl, a spirited redhead who may just be the next Lady of the Eternal City . . .

512 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kate Quinn

39 books23.2k followers
--I use Goodreads to track and rate my current reading. Most of my reads are 4 stars, meaning I enjoyed it hugely and would absolutely recommend. 5 stars is blew-my-socks-off; reserved for rare reads. 3 stars is "enjoyed it, but something fell a bit short." I very rarely rate lower because I DNF books I'm not enjoying, and don't rate books I don't finish.--

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network”, “The Huntress,” “The Rose Code,” and "The Diamond Eye." All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,492 (59%)
4 stars
1,287 (30%)
3 stars
335 (7%)
2 stars
60 (1%)
1 star
25 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews
Profile Image for Erin.
2,956 reviews485 followers
October 15, 2018
Sniff..Sniff... I cannot believe that the Mistress of Rome series is over.

Kate Quinn writes Ancient Rome in such a way that I am utterly convinced that she, in another life, once walked its streets. In her series finale, Quinn sweeps readers back to the time of Emperor Hadrian in a way that only a masterful storyteller can do. I started this book and I purposely took my time with it because I was sad to leave Vix, Sabina, Titus, Faustina, and so many others. I loved that we were able to catch up with Thea and Arius(Mistress of Rome), but I was sad that Vix/Mariah went through the troubles they did and how their story played out.

I really hope that Kate Quinn returns with another Roman story someday if the opportunity arises because I felt like I learned more than I ever did in school about the Roman Emperors.
Profile Image for Stephanie Thornton.
Author 10 books1,316 followers
March 6, 2015
Just when I think Kate Quinn can't get any better... She does.

The scope of Lady of the Eternal City is staggering, but Quinn handles the span of time and miles with ease, picking up where Empress of the Seven Hills left off with Hadrian, Sabina, and Vix. (If you haven't already read the first three books in the series, I suggest you remedy that immediately!) There are new characters here to fall in love with, most especially golden Antinous and a red-haired tomboy who runs like a gazelle (who had me cheering and laughing out loud). The plot twists and turns around brutal Roman military campaigns and even a mysterious murder, and in typical Quinn fashion, there are a few reveals that will have you gasping out loud and tearing through the pages as fast as you can. As always, Quinn breathes life into ancient Rome so you really feel as if you were walking through Hadrian's marble palaces or even floating down the Nile in a royal procession. This is historical fiction at its best, filled with characters who will stay with you long after you've finished the final chapter.

This is an action-packed final volume to Quinn's Empress of Rome series. I'm sad it's over!
Profile Image for Jenny Q.
1,001 reviews54 followers
April 8, 2015
Kate Quinn has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors. It's no small thing to weave a story with dozens of characters over three books and a forty-year time span and keep a reader hanging on every word. It takes true talent not only to bring history to life but to do so with (seemingly) effortless style and dignity. Kate now ranks among some pretty illustrious company on my shelf of honor, including Sharon Kay Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick, and Diana Gabaldon.

I have been dying to read Lady of the Eternal City ever since that cliffhanger ending of Empress of the Seven Hills. In that book, we watched as young Romans Sabina and Vix came of age as friends and lovers and then separated to follow their destinies, Vix to the legions and Sabina to the world of politics as wife of the rising legate Publius Hadrian. But their paths were fated to cross numerous times as Vix rose through the ranks and Sabina's husband became the favorite to follow Emperor Trajan.

This book opens with Hadrian's ascension to emperor and the execution of his rivals for the throne. Vix has been hardened by his hatred for the man he is forced to serve and the things he has been forced to do, and Sabina has become disillusioned and wary, hiding a huge secret from her increasingly erratic husband. The emotional tension in this novel runs at full-throttle as Hadrian cements his power, friends become enemies and enemies become friends, tragedy creates unlikely allies, and the future of an empire hangs in the balance. The plot is meticulously crafted from the beginning of Hadrian's reign to the end, encompassing war, religious strife, cultural awakenings, political machinations, and all of the very human emotions of the players who left their mark on the world during this time.

Possibly the strongest aspect of this series is the characterization. It's not easy to craft a tale around a dozen characters and carve out a place for each in the reader's heart, but Kate Quinn pulls it off. Beautiful and tragic Antinous, Hadrian's young beloved, who serves as the touchstone in this book around which Hadrian, Sabina, and Vix revolve. (The nature of Antinous's death is still one of history's enduring mysteries.) Hadrian, who morphs from mild-mannered husband to terrifying villain and, astoundingly, to sympathetic hero. Future emperors Titus (Antoninus Pius) and Marcus Aurelius. Vibia Sabina, the young adventuress whose fire is dimmed over time by duty and a repressive marriage to a dangerous man, but who rises again as an empress, a mother, and a lover. Annia, the headstrong young girl whose future will surpass her wildest dreams. These historical figures are brought to life as real people in all of their flawed glory.

And of course, Vix. The fictional Vercingetorix the Red is one of my favorite heroes in literature. He tries so hard to be what others expect him to be, but at his heart, he's a soldier and a son of Rome, and he can't deny the call of his devotion. It was heartbreaking to watch as his life unraveled and as he and Sabina made sacrifices for the good of the empire they both loved, and for the soul of the man they both despised yet could not turn away from. To watch them come full circle during this tale's stunning and heart-pounding conclusion at the end of Hadrian's reign was poignant and oh-so-satisfying.

You don't have to read Mistress of Rome first (though I highly recommend it as it tells the tale of Vix's and Sabina's parents and sets the political and historical stage for what's to follow), but you should definitely read Empress of the Seven Hills before reading the epic conclusion in Lady of the Eternal City. This is historical fiction at its finest. This is gritty and gripping storytelling that seamlessly weaves fact and fiction with fantastic characterization, transporting ambiance, and overarching themes of love, friendship, duty, and honor. This series is an absolute must-read for lovers of historical fiction and ancient history, and for anyone who loves a damned good story. I really can't sing its praises high enough. These books have earned a permanent place on my shelves and in my heart. Brava, Kate Quinn, brava!
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,020 reviews
July 21, 2016
I'm melancholy to see this fabulous series end, yet joyful to see what Quinn has in store for her next epic effort.

Quinn gives us familiar characters along with new players to entertain us. Without a doubt her kaleidoscope cast will pull you in until the very end. Hadrian the questionable cog in which all revolves around, leaves you spinning. Annia a young ginger haired girl beyond her years, a feminist in her actions and thinking, highly intelligent, continually amuses the reader. Antinous, his gentle soul combined with his paralyzingly beauty adds a soft touch to both narrative and fellow cast members with rougher edges. Lots of surprises leaving the reader further entranced as you quickly turn each page to discover the ending. Lush descriptions transport you to opulent palaces, you sense the powerful current of the Nile, the horrific battles, you'll feel a laurel wreath upon your head. Quite a memorable read reaching an arm to a distant time in history with memorable characters along with a intricately sketched narrative not short of adventure, action, mystery leaving you awed for a length of time.

A wonderful wrap up to a enthralling series, historical fiction demonstrated by a proficient authoress.
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,236 reviews382 followers
April 13, 2019
This was amazing. Over the course of this series, these characters have become some of my favorites. Vix, Sabina, Trajan, Hadrian, Antinous, Titus, Annia, and so many others... Kate Quinn brings them all to such vivid life that it's nearly impossible to tell who actually existed and who's fictional. I'm sad it's over but it was such a brilliant ending. I've long thought I had no interest in ancient Rome because all the names blur together and everyone has at least 3-4 names and they're all some jumble of the same thing and did I mention the NAMES? But this series and a few others have made me realize that Rome is just as fascinating as any other place in time and history, when put into the right hands. I'll definitely come back to these one day.
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews191 followers
February 25, 2015
"Lady of the Eternal City" is the fourth book in Kate Quinn's wonderful The Empress of Rome series. I feel like I have been waiting for this book for such a long time and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait! In "Lady of the Eternal City," the infamous Hadrian is finally emperor. For Quinn's characters, this does not necessarily mean good things. Hadrian's rule will bring many changes, both to Roman rule and in the personal lives of the character. Many of the beloved characters such as Sabina, Vix, and Titus are back in this book as well as many new characters, which I fell for quickly.

This book is the fourth book in the series and takes place about a year after the previous book. You could probably read this book as a stand alone book but you should not! For my fellow historical fiction lovers, this series is such a treat. Filled with memorable characters and exquisite historical detail, this book and the rest of the series will pull you in. You should really treat yourself and read the series from the beginning.

The characters are definitely a major draw for this book. I was very excited to go back to characters that I loved in the previous books. It was a treat to see what the likes of Vix, a former gladiator, and Sabina, who is married to Emperor Hadrian, were up to. We are also introduced to several more characters that really make for some fun reading. Quinn writes characters that you really begin to feel for and care about. So much happens to these characters and there are so many twists and turns that kept me on my toes (unfortunately, I cannot divulge them as I don't want to give anything away).

As with Quinn's other books, the world building is fantastic. Ancient Rome and her territories are pretty remote in many modern day readers' minds but through great writing and thorough historical detail, these places really come to life. The way that the detail is woven into the story is wonderful. This book is definitely a full body experience.

There are some books that take a long time to read because you are just not into the story. There are the good books that you read a normal pace. There are other books that you fly through because they are just so good. Then, there is a final category of books where you read the book incredibly slowly because you know with every page you turn, you are closer to the end and you know that you're going to have an overwhelming feeling of sadness when you get to the last page because it means that a fantastic story is coming to the end. This is definitely one of those books that fits firmly in the last category! I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting Quinn's next release.
Profile Image for Alison.
Author 32 books141 followers
March 13, 2015
I knew about Hadrian, Sabina and Antinous from history, but the clever weaving of their stories with that of the fictional tough ‘barbarian’ Vix and the younger Faustina and Marcus as children enchants you.

I have wandered through the remains of Hadrian’s Tivoli villa near Rome and, of course, embrace Hadrian’s Wall as part of my national heritage, but Kate Quinn breathes life into these places so you are gazing at the star sky at the northern edge of the world and feel the heartbreak of duty and love tearing you apart on the River Nile, in Judea, in Rome.

The author uses different points of view with care, giving readers insight in to the minds and emotions of each character without burdening them with unnecessary detail nor losing them. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Caroline.
341 reviews58 followers
March 17, 2015
It looks like "Lady of the Eternal City" is the last of Kate Quinn's "Empress of Rome" series. So while I loved the book through and through, I read it with somewhat of a heavy heart. If this is the end, it was perfect. (It even included a guest appearance by Thea and Arius, Vix's parents who started it all.) But still, if I had my way, this series would never end. I mean, generational sagas don't really *have* to finish, do they? (I mean, if Kate ever wants to revisit Dinah or Chaya or better yet, go into the tale of Annia and Marcus...) Then again, I get why Quinn wanted to end the story. More books mean more conflict. And damn if Vix, Sabina and company haven't been through enough shit as it is.

"Lady of the Eternal City" begins a year after the end of "Empress of the Seven Hills". (Which, to jog your memory, ended spectacularly with the ascension of Hadrian and Vix knocking Sabina up ~ILLICITLY~ in a bout of hate!sex.) It spans another eighteen years or so after that, and damn does a lot happen.

In truth, I'm not familiar with the story of Hadrian. Being familiar with the history isn't really necessary with these books; I mean, Vix is entirely fictional and Sabina largely so--and they're the main characters. So I was surprised by the turn Hadrian's storyline took. Quinn takes a rather bold step there, developing the villain of "Empress of the Seven Hills" and his relationships with Vix and Sabina into something else entirely. Don't get me wrong--he's still an asshole, and she hardly forgets his wrongdoings. But the character development there is much more complex than even I expected. (These books are soapy, but so underrated.) Particularly deep/surprising is the romance between Hadrian and none other than Vix's adopted son Antinous. Again, I knew little of the real Hadrian so I had no idea while reading "Empress of the Seven Hills" that Antinous was historically significant.

I don't think a lot of authors would paint the Hadrian/Antinous relationship as Quinn did. It wasn't perfect, with both partners acknowledging that Hadrian was essentially maintaining a mask to keep Antinous happy. But their love for each other was presented as wholly true. In fact, in a sense the romance purer than that between Vix and Sabina. (Yes, that continues. And yes, it's still my favorite thing about the whole series.) While Vix and Sabina constantly love and hate and use one another, lying and cheating their way to survival--Hadrian and Antinous are simply in love. The world, however, is against both couples and as per usual in a Kate Quinn book, there are about five billion tragedies they have to contend with.

"Lady of the Eternal City" has some truly heartbreaking moments. Though Vix and Sabina's relationship is still at the forefront, it was built up in "Empress of the Seven Hills" and is now left to go where it will. The core of the book seemed to be the love of a parent for a child. Vix loves Antinous--moreso than his biological daughters with Mirah; and the ugliness of that isn't skipped over--and Sabina loves her ~secret child~ conceived at the end of the last books. Both of those relationships are fraught with tension, and it's difficult for both parents to love their children. Sabina's boundaries are physical; Vix's are emotional. (And don't forget that Vix is actually the father of that secret child. Yeah.) Vix and Antinous's relationship is even more important than that of Antinous and Hadrian--perhaps even more than Vix and Sabina's.

Quinn never shies away from the gray morality of her leads. Though Leah and Arius were no angels, Vix and Sabina sway more towards the moral alignment of the delightfully gray Marcella of "Daughters of Rome". They do a lot of bad shit in this book--Vix in particular. What happens to his family--a family he's constantly betraying, constantly ignoring--is awful, but it feels realistic. It shows the less rosy side of a grand romance, the fallout of Vix's constantly split loyalties: between his wife Mirah and Sabina, the girl he's loved since adolescence; between his children with Mirah and his adopted son; between Judaea, nation of his mother and his wife, and Rome, the city he's served all his life; between the ghosts of Trajan's ideals and the realities of Hadrian.

Through it all, the bright spot--that isn't entirely bright because you know this series--is the younger generation. Well, not all of them, what with the fact that one member of the younger cast is one of the biggest assholes this series has seen thus far. But Pedanius aside, Annia and Marcus are delightful. Through all of the fucked up relationships thwarted by circumstance or misunderstanding, theirs is a sweet childhood romance (with a few obstacles along the way, of course). Annia's perspective delighted me throughout. She's one of those female characters who's tough and strong and tomboyish--but still such a girl.

The ending is bittersweet, as could be expected of the series. Not everyone walks off into the sunset. Some of the victories are quite hollow. But if you're dreading a total downer like I was at one point--don't. "Lady of the Eternal City" is worth the wait. And if this really is the end, I'm sad about that--but happy it ended so well.
Profile Image for KL (Cat).
177 reviews131 followers
February 20, 2016
Some brilliant quotes for you to read as I plan my review; currently it's just me spluttering "Oh my god" over and over again with a high dose of profanity. Also, as a warning: would most likely break your heart, and only once if you're lucky.

Annia felt queer and cold, triumphant and sick, and her face was blank as stone.
“You look like the sack of Troy,” her father said mildly as she came to his dining couch in the triclinium.

“A virtuous man cannot be tempted to an evil act.” Marcus sounded thoughtful, but very certain. “Therefore, the sight of your ankles or your anything else makes no difference.”

Hadrian’s voice was low, his mouth pressed against Antinous’s curls as he crushed my son against him. “I’d die in a lion’s mouth for you,” he murmured. “I’d die in its teeth and let the Empire burn after me, if it meant you lived.”

“I have to give him up,” my son said bleakly. “It will break his heart, and it will break mine because I would rather be dead than be without him. But he’s my world. And I will not be the thing that brings him to ruin.”

“I don’t know,” he whispered, and I bled for him. That’s what you do, when your children grow up and you can no longer slay their demons for them.”

But if men are the makers and breakers of empires, then women are the makers and breakers of men.

Then the dark was gone and the stars were rushing at him, reflected in the Nile.
So beautiful, Antinous had time to think. And then he was falling among the stars.

Chorus, she thought. That’s what we are—the chorus to a Greek tragedy, and the last act is upon us and all we can do is react.

It was in a grove of lemon trees just outside Athens, after the Mysteries. Gods know what excuse I made, to get you away and him alone. He wore a blue tunic, and he looked at me with such clear eyes, and the sight of him made me tremble like a boy.

*runs off crying*
Profile Image for Morana Mazor.
357 reviews73 followers
September 8, 2019
Volim povijesne romane, volim Stari Rim, volim kako piše Kate Quinn (kako povijsne činjenice i osobe kombinira s fikcijom) i zato od mene, vrlo subjektivno, čista petca... ;)))))
Profile Image for Deborah Pickstone.
852 reviews91 followers
December 18, 2016
Usual great story! Highly recommended. I wish Antinous had been a fictional character, he was so lovely. But he wasn't fictional. And we probably have a better idea of how he looked than we have of many historical figures of the time because so many statues were erected by Hadrian of him after he died mysteriously and was deified by Hadrian. Kate Quinn's theory of what happened is as good as any other. Of the gossip from the time, the one thing I am sure of is that Hadrian did not have him killed - because his response to the death suggests great distress. The suicide theory is more believable, if Antinous cared for Hadrian and believed his continued relationship with himself would cause harm. But that relies on there being a bond of deep feeling between them (it could have been one way).

This series has survived a re-read for me and still looks as good as it did first time around. I have to say, though, that I found Annia's mad dash at the end not believable, particularly as she couldn't ride. But that's the worst I've managed to come up with over the 4 books so it's hardly worth saying :)
Profile Image for Lila.
530 reviews178 followers
February 21, 2022
Hadrian's rule was strange and capricious. Kate Quinn focused more on his darker aspects than some other authors. I love the portrayal of his and Antinous' love.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,258 reviews185 followers
December 28, 2020
Неочаквано интересен се оказа романът - последна част на поредица, която “Сиела” зарязаха недопреведена.

Основен герой, за моя изненада, се оказа император Адриан. Умен, работохолик, неуморен пътешественик, ерудиран, често параноичен и непредвидим, той оставя в наследство Адриановия вал в Англия, Адриановите закони и една стабилна, ясно очертана и добре управлявана римска империя. Прекратява експанзионистичната политика за присъединяване на нови територии поради простата причина, че те правят империята неуправляема и носят само финансови щети. Познат като един от петимата добри римски императори, макар да е мразен от сената, които го обвиняват в тирания.

Може ли лош човек, да си кажем направо с някои социопатски наклонности и без грам емпатия, но с остър ум и силна воля, да бъде добър управник? През цялата книга се търси отговор на въпроса. В крайна сметка, маската, носена твърде плътно и твърде дълго, накрая става лице. А принципът fake it and make it, прилаган достатъчно дълго, се превръща в реалност. Обаче докато това стане, гореспоменатата персона може да разкатае фамилията на всички наоколо.

В това положение са императрица Сабина, която трябва да лавира между смъртоносните настроения и импулси на съпруга си, собствената си жажда за знания и приключения, една стара любов и една тайна. И Версенжеторикс Червения, стартирал някога на гладиаторската арена и издигнал се от роб до преториански трибун, докато се опитва да балансира омразата си към имперстора, любовта си към своя Рим и всичко добро и лошо, което този Рим въплъщава, и религиозната отдаденост и радикален юдейски патриотизъм на съпругата си-еврейка.

И ето ни на пътешествие из Рим, Атина, Юдея, Британия, Египет. И се запознаваме с още един прекрасен герой, който въплъщава истинската, вродена и съвсем не слабосилна човешка доброта, който всъщност е неочакваният център на историята.

Всеки герой се сблъсква с куп въпроси и противоречия (родители-деца, родина-религия, обществени порядки-лично щастие...), и преди да успее да намери всички отговори, често се оказва, че вече е изживял живота си. Съвсем като в живота. Това е роман, не хроника, и точно като такъв го изгризах от кора до кора (макар и електронни). Послевкусът е много приятен!
Profile Image for Deity World.
862 reviews9 followers
May 26, 2023
WoW probably the most dramatic book out of the whole series really well researched and documented I’ve learnt more about Rome already
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,300 reviews87 followers
April 29, 2021
4.5 to 5 stars
Damn, I can't believe I have another 5 star read so soon after my last one (Book 3 of this series). I liked Book 3 a little bit better I think. This one was a little bittersweet but it was profound and really made you think.

I didn't really like the beginning so much and it was 3 stars for me then. For the latter half of the book, so many of the characters keep on talking about how they're aging and going to die soon, which is not what I like to hear. It makes me think of how I'm young now and all I ever know is youth but I won't be young forever, and I wonder what that will be like...and how it sucks how you cannot travel back in time to revisit your past. Even now sometimes I wish I could be seven again just to see/experience what that was like, relive my memories.

There were more questions this book raised, such as who due you owe loyalty to, your past or your present, who do you belong to? Vix struggled with this because his wife really wanted to live in Judea, so once he was dismissed by Emperor Hadrian for blurting out that he had slept with Hadrian's wife Sabina multiple times, he finally agreed to go live in Judea. However, as his mother said, his wife was of God (the Jewish god) but he was of Rome. And Rome ended their marriage.
Vix tried but he was not satisfied living in Judea and dreamt of the legions and fighting again, so when Hadrian gave him the 10th again and told him he to squash the rebellion in Judea--the one his wife fully supported, her own uncle being the leader--Vix readily agreed.

Then, omg Antonious (Vix's adopted son). I had said in my review for Book 3 that I had wanted to be him for some reason (don't ask). I loved him like everyone else did, Demetra's beautiful boy. I really liked the romance between him and Hadrian. I don't often read MM so this was nice. It was so cute and really sang to my hopeless romantic heart that Antonious was willing to overlook the bad in Hadrian and wouldn't believe anything bad about him, even if it was true (for instance that Hadrian threatened to rape Vix). I would have loved to have met Antonious and cradled his curly head in my lap. Also I'm curious as to what he looked like because he was one of the most beautiful humans.

I also really liked Marcus and Annia together (shipped them from the very beginning!) and there was this one scene they had where they kept kissing when they were older that I found particularly romantic.

Other thoughts: (*Some spoilers*)
1.) I was waiting for a while to find out what happened to Sabina's baby that she had in secret-who was it and where they were! And then I was frustrated how it took FOREVER for her to tell Vix that they had a kid together, a la the secret baby, and then even tell their daughter that they were her real parents.

“Even when she was just a flutter inside me, I loved her,” Sabina said. “Because she is ours.” -ahh the enduring love between Sabina and Vix

2.) I'm glad we got more of the Sabina and Vix romance. Though he married Mirah, they were obviously not compatible in the end, and this book had me convinced that Sabina was the One for him. Mirah was also bitter and I ended up not liking her in the end. She also seemed a bit homophobic towards Antonious. (Antonious was bi, Hadrian was gay.)

3.) Glad we finally got to find out what happened in Hadrian's Hades--and it was a little disappointing at how normal it was. No bloody bits of people as rumors had said. Only a mirror and a chair, though I was confused why the author wrote Hadrian's ravaged face, and thought maybe the mirror was shattered so Hadrian would look monstrous in it, but it wasn't shattered.

4.) I'm annoyed at Vix for letting me believe that Sabina was dead! Yeah, all of Rome thought she had died too, along with the treasonous plotters trying to kill Hadrian, but Vix could have said oh Sabina was alive, but everyone believed she was dead. I gasped. I was shocked that the author would have killed off one of the main characters.

5.) It was sad how Vix had to kill off a lot of his friends, including Simon.

6.) Emperor Hadrian's CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT & self-development was AMAZING...chef's kiss. I went from hating the handsome dude to even crying for him when he died! His vision in my mind changed to0 from a handsome man to an old, ravaged, tired man.

7.) The climaxes of this series--the transition from one emperor to another mostly--are so spell binding. The whole book is great, but man, the climaxes are super exciting & suspenseful.

8.) I was so happy that Vix finally visited his parents. Sadly, by the end of this novel, they were probably dead, but Vix wouldn't have known that for sure. I wish he would have visited them one more time in the end.

Kate Quinn is such a good storyteller. That's what made this book so readable. I could barely put it down, and it's 2 am now and I've barely done my history reading and homework (spoiler alert: it was so boring & it's also on Ancient Rome!). Even if there's not much of a story, I need a sequel, Vix and Sabina's story under Titus!! I need a story where their lives conclude like I would be fine with them dying in the book from old age, I just need their story to be completed, and it didn't feel 100% completed here.

That being said, these two novels of hers really blew me away--after "Empress of Rome" which I barely liked but still found interesting, I'm surprised I even continued this far with the series and am now thinking of reading book 2!--that I want to check out her Borgia books, which as the Borgias were so scandalous, I'm sure it will be a great story too!

Honestly, this book has me wanting to read more historical fiction & even has me wanting to write my own--though I'm not sure what time period and it sounds even harder to write one than a romance, which I have been thinking of doing. I do see myself rereading this series one day. I already miss the characters & just want to bask in this book more if that makes any sense...
Profile Image for Krista Claudine Baetiong.
259 reviews32 followers
November 4, 2021
After finishing this novel, I thought oddly of this particular Filipino game I played in childhood: Dr. Quack Quack (similar to Human Knot). A group of players forms a circle by holding hands and trying to do the most outrageous and elaborate contortions they can think of by knotting or entangling themselves. After that, they call on Dr. Quack Quack, the person or “it” tasked to untangle them and get them back to their original position without breaking off the chain. Once the knot is successfully untangled, everyone breaks off into a run, and Dr. Quack Quack runs after whoever is easy to tag to replace him/her as the next “it”.

Like the game, it seems Kate Quinn’s Lady of the Eternal City—with the story covering the entire period of Emperor Hadrian’s reign (76-138 AD), including all the remarkable sketches about his life (his wars, travels, cultural interests, scandals, and one great love)—is too convoluted and chaotic it seems like only a deus ex machina will save the day, only to find out that the author not only triumphantly unraveled all the knots in her story, she also gave it an apt and flavorful conclusion. There is so much that happened in this novel, but Miss Quinn made an effortlessly impressive rundown of historical events and cleared all possible loopholes there are in the course of history. Sorting out messy plot twists takes a lot of skill, and Miss Quinn looks like she just breathes it.

It also takes talent to be able to introduce a whole lot of characters in a story and do remarkable justice to developing them at the same time, and Miss Quinn is one brilliant writer to give life and emotions to each one of them as genuinely as they can be. I actually liked Vibia Sabina’s character more in this book than the last one, and am excited to see how Faustina the Younger (Annia in the story) and Marcus Aurelius’s story would unfold in the next book (hopefully, there is one). And, as always, I am just awed by how she made her main man, Vercingetorix the Red (the slave boy/gladiator who worked his way to become a legion commander), do his usual cussing against the system and the people in power and come out of it unscathed, well-regarded even. He is a fictional character molded from a number of real-life personalities, but he is as important as the real people the author has personified in her novel. He is such a complex and endearing character, and one who I’d probably remember for a long time.

While I am aware that same-sex relationships existed during ancient Rome, I wasn’t aware of its particulars—like how it was quite a shame for someone of high station, i.e. emperors, to take a free man of Rome for a lover, even (and especially) if he was a consenting adult. Because of this, Hadrian’s fiery love affair with Antinous, however genuine, had been sort of a barb to the empire’s moral code and definitely given classical Rome one of its biggest scandals. But the author went beyond the scandal and portrayed Hadrian and Antinous’s relationship as a beautiful risk worth taking. It was brilliantly executed it actually left a bittersweet impression of Hadrian’s love, and how his grief not only produced a city in his beloved’s name but also saw to the commission of marble statues and even a deification edict in his honor. Though some postulate that this was merely a political move by Hadrian, it is not really difficult to imagine that it might actually be true love after all.

This is a gripping story, all in all, and one I almost didn’t want to end.
Profile Image for Minni Mouse.
621 reviews961 followers
May 20, 2017
Now that I've finished this series, I'm not sure what to do with myself. Thea's and Arias's stories are done, and now so are the stories of Sabina, Vix, Titus, Hadrian, Annia, and Antonius. It's like I had this group of troubled and flawed and loyal friends...but now they've moved on and left me behind.

This book brings closure to Sabina's and Vix's story, healing to Hadrian's, and hope for Annia's. The actual last chapter/few pages themselves were a bit unsatisfying for me, but the author's note at the end with the historical notes was terrific.

Can't say I loved this as much as The Empress of the Seven Hills and it didn't grip me with suspense and tension like The Mistress of Rome, but it was still a beautifully crafted story.

1) Annia.

Annia touched her hair, defensive. “People think I’m a boy,” she found herself saying.

“Why do they think that?”

“The way I play.”

“And how do you play?”

Annia jutted out her jaw. “To win.”

Good girl.

2) Vix and Sabina. Endgame.

“Vix watched you like a lion watches a lioness.”

“And how does a lion watch a lioness?” Sabina didn’t even try to pretend nonchalance this time.

“He doesn’t need to tend her, because she hunts her own prey. He doesn’t need to shield her, because she kills her own enemies. He doesn’t need to look for her, because she’s always at his side.”

1) Did not like Antonius and Hadrian.

2) I thought Hadrian's dark side and unpopularity could have been further emphasized. Instead, it's like we were supposed to start liking him by the 75% mark.


Not as fast-paced as the previous two books and a little more side tangents with the breadth of years that this book takes place...but a great end to an alluring series. The Mistress of Rome will be my favorite with The Empress of the Seven Hills as a close second.
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,730 reviews66 followers
June 9, 2015
I absolutely loved Mistress of Rome but the subsequent books have been hit or miss for me. Unfortunately Lady of the Eternal City fell entirely into the miss category.

Overall this book was a soap opera where everything was sexualized and lacking depth. A main component to one of the love stories, Antinous, is poorly fleshed out but extremely sexualized. Most of the characteristics we get for him are, in fact, superficial. He is just a pretty face, even described as thus by his adoptive father Vix. Vix, by the way, sounded nothing like a guy to me. Take the following description of Antinous by Vix:

"Our girls were pretty pink-cheeked little things, but it was Antinous everyone noticed first: his carved Bithynian face that broke into such a radiant smile, his lean-muscled height, his curling hair the color of dark honey..."

That description was supposed to be from the very weathered fighter Vix. Completely convincing, no? There are numerous such descriptions and it was obvious where this was headed. Quinn practically bashed us over the head with the fact that Antinous would become Hadrian's lover. This fact alone just opened up a whole other can of worms for me considering the portrayal of Hadrian.

Overall Hardian is a complete asshole in this book. He does vile things all of the time, like blinding a child for laughing in his presence and at the very beginning of the novel has four people killed for the hell of it. (There was some political aspect but he took great pleasure in it.) These types of behaviors were rampant when it came to Hadrian. But then Antinous comes along and sees Hadrian cry over his dog and Antinous loses all sense of logic. Because how could a man who cries about his dog ever be bad? (Antinous thinks this thought.) Oh I don't know, plenty of serial killers and psychos love their dogs but why don't we focus on the fact that Hadrian just brutally killed a bear for no reason other than "sport" and now cries about his dog. I mean that is completely consistent. Or not.

Then when Hadrian and Antinous are lovers Antinous continually uses the excuse for being with as Hadrian "needs" him. Apparently this is a solid basis for love? I was really tired of listening to Antinous wax poetic about Hadrian considering how much of a sick fuck he was. He even says that Hadrian would never do this or that vile thing and anyone who thinks that doesn't know Hadrian like he does. Oy, how cliche and blind of him.

"Six months. Can he still make me so dizzy after six months? Just watching Hadrian go striding through this vast villa was enough to melt Atninous's knees."

I had to keep reading quotes like this while simultaneously hoping someone would kill Hadrian. Almost all of the relationships in this book were twisted in some way, but the Hadrian/Antinous one was the worst. Antinous needed to stay far away from that asshole but he never did. But I think as readers we were supposed to see how being with Antinous made Hadrian a better person? Why the hell should I now accept him when he made it clear how vile he really was? Some softening does not change my opinion, sorry.

I also grew tired of Vix and his Sabina issues, especially when he claimed to love his wife etc. No one in this book seemed to know what real love was, it was all so twisted.

Overall a very disappointing novel.
Profile Image for Reeda Booke.
410 reviews21 followers
March 9, 2015
A wonderful, luxurious read! We are back in the lives of Vix, Empress Sabina and Emperor Hadrian and the conspiracies, plots, schemes and backstabbing return with a vengeance. But this is also a story about love, courage, loss and change and the introduction of some new characters that are important in history.

I admit that Sabina was still one of my favorites. That she stood by Hadrian, even in his most darkest times is a testament to her strength. I also loved Annia and Titus Aurelius. And of course, no book is complete without that character you just love to hate, but I won't give it all away. You will just have to read it for yourself and trust me, you will love love this book. It has it all and the scope of the authors' research and the vibrant imagery she breathes into her characters and scenery, makes this one a book that I highly recommend. If you haven't read the series, I suggest you start at the beginning. You will not regret it.

I am not sure if this is the last book in the series. I hope not.
Profile Image for Karen.
184 reviews16 followers
September 1, 2018


Now that I've finally read it a whole year after it came out I'm ready to start all over again at the beginning. You won't find classic historical fiction on a grand scale like this anymore. This series, and these characters are dear to me.
Profile Image for Kirstin.
94 reviews3 followers
April 25, 2015
There are 3 things I have learned to expect from Kate Quinn:
1) The characters become part of you. She has a way of writing these real people as if they are sitting right in front of you. You will love them, and hate them all at the same time.
2) You will learn something. She has a way of bringing history to life. Taking real events that you would have never even known happen before and make them real. She finds the holes in historical record and fills them with events that could be exactly what happened, or not. I think that is one of the best parts, you never know what really happens.
3) There is one moment about ¾ of the way through that takes it to a whole new level. The book goes from being really good to GREAT. Putting the book down goes from not what you want to do to practically impossible.

Lady of the Eternal City was no exception to 3 things which have made me a big fan of Kate Quinn. This fourth book in the Rome series picked up with the same group which captivating me in Empress of Rome. Hadrian is Emperor, Sabina becomes his Empress and Vix is his watchdog and body guard. This is the story of how those 3 are intertwined by Fate. I don’t believe in Fate as they did in Rome’s golden age, but I do believe in God. I think that God does bring people into our lives for a short period of time and then there are the people you just can’t shake no matter how hard you might try. Hadian, Sabina and Vix definitely fall into that category. They love each other, they hate each other and then even plot each other’s down fall, but through it all they are together.

There is a third person who becomes very influential in this story, Antonius. He is the adopted son of Vix and is really the center of this story. He is the type of person that everyone one likes, well nearly everyone. The world of Ancient Rome was like none other in my opinion. It had its own rules of what is acceptable behavior. In a lot of respects, many of these rules contradicted each other and Antonius somehow fell into the cracks of this society.

I found this book enthralling and engaging. It was exactly what I always hope for when I get that notification from my library that a Kate Quinn book is ready for me to pick up. I would not recommend this book or her entire repertoire more. You will not be disappointed with this book!!
Profile Image for ROBYN MARKOW.
329 reviews51 followers
September 30, 2020
Kate Quinn is to HF about Ancient Rome Like what Phillipa Gregory(used) to be to HF about the Tudor Era- only better. I absolutely was involved from beginning to end in this book about the continuing saga of Verncingetorix The Red(aka Vix) former Gladiator,Solider,Husband,Father & the great love of The Empress Sabina's life(who's hiding a secret about the result of their star-crossed relationship) along with a terrific cast of (mostly) actual persons of Rome,circa 120-138 A.D that are portrayed as living,breathing & relatable. Vix is a fictional character, but I bought him as an actual person from that time as well. Emperor Hadrian,now best known for his enormous wall that he had built in what is now known as Great Britain, is on the throne & Vix hates him but still does his bidding since soldiering is all he believes he's good at. I loved the complexity of Vix,he makes mistakes and doesn't always apologize for his actions yet you still like him,which is a credit to Quinn's excellent writing. If you've been reading the previous "Rome Series" books,I believe this is the best one yet & not to miss it..!
Profile Image for Milena.
732 reviews79 followers
March 14, 2015
Kate Quinn is a master storyteller and Lady of the Eternal City is her masterpiece. This was my favorite book in The Empress of Rome series. Kate Quinn masterfully weaves the story of real historical figures with fictional characters, of hate and love, of betrayal and loyalty. Everything about this book is complex and multi faceted. The relationships between characters are complicated, they are never one clear thing. Vix's hate for Hadrian is mixed with loyalty to the Roman Empire, Vix's love for Sabina and Mirah are at odds, Mirah's love for their adopted son Antinous is tingled with resentment, Hadrian's hate for Vix is mixed with respect for him as a soldier and love for Antinous. There are layers and layers of complex feelings, emotions and relationships and reading this book is like riding an emotional roller coaster. I loved the third book ,The Empress of Seven Hills, but I was a little unhappy with where Sabina's and Vix's story took them and the Lady of Eternal City finally had me satisfied.
Profile Image for Megan.
1,487 reviews18 followers
December 27, 2016
Stellar as expected. The plot, the characters, and the historical facts and details drew me in right away and didn't stop. I cared about each person and about their development and I couldn't put the book down as it sped toward its ending. It was a winner.
Profile Image for S.J.A. Turney.
Author 66 books410 followers
March 10, 2015
Kate Quinn first came to my attention last year when I read Day of Fire, the collection of cross-threaded tales by various Roman authors set against the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. I have to say that normally, since my trend in reading is towards the military and espionage end of the historical fiction, I probably wouldn’t have read a book with this title or cover until I had run out of books where legionaries smash someone over the head, but the thing is: Kate Quinn’s contribution to that collection of Vesuvius tales was one of the highlights of it – one of the finest pieces of writing. It showed her skill at the craft of not just writing, but storytelling. And in recent years I have learned to approach literature with an open mind. So when I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of Lady of the Eternal City, I snapped up the chance and thanked Kate very much.

A quick word on the plot. As usual, I hate to expound too much on plots for fear of spoilers, but this plot deserves a solid treatment, really, and so I’ve delved deeper than usual, and I hope I haven’t thrown in anything I shouldn’t.

This is a novel of Hadrian. Not a biography in any way, and he is not the protagonist, but it is definitely a story about him, for he is the hub around which the world and all Kate’s characters thereupon spin. We pick up the story at the very beginning of Hadrian’s reign, with the former empress still very much alive and a certain level of trepidation across Rome as its nobles anticipate the emperor’s arrival.

None is filled with more trepidation though than Vix (Vercingetorix the Red – I thought at first I’d hate that name and it would bug me, given its Republican Gallic connotation, and yet funnily I quickly warmed to it.) Vix is a former gladiator and slave, a legionary and war hero who saved the life of Hadrian’s predecessor Trajan, and finally a Praetorian tribune. He is strong, brave and well-placed. But he and Hadrian have a history that is not all roses. And Vix has a history with the emperor’s wife, which is troublesome to say the least.

Vix and Sabina are two of the rich cast in this novel, joined by Sabina’s neice Annia and … this is where students of Roman history will see how the book is going to get interesting … Vix’s adopted stepson Antinous. The history of Antinous and Hadrian is one well documented, but this additional connection brings it home and makes the tale so much more immediate and personal. In addition to this, though, and of great interest to me personally, was an extra cast member in the form of young Marcus Aurelius – always one of my favourite characters in imperial history.

The story deals with Hadrian’s growth into his role and life within it until his eventual decline, all seen from the point of view of those few around him who are able to influence his fickle, dangerous moods. And in parallel it follows the growing relationship between Hadrian and Antinous. I won’t tell you how that one ends, but many of you who know Hadrian will already know that!

We are treated to Hadrian’s great travels round the empire as events unfold, from Rome across the Roman world, beginning with Britannia. My favourite interlude in the trip incidentally, was for the Elusinian mysteries, which have long fascinated me and it was nice to see a novelised treatment of them. Although the descriptions of Egypt drew me right back to that haunting place.

Essentially, the plot follows the relationship of Antinous and Hadrian and their relations and loves from their first distant connections to the emperor’s final days via love and tragedy in between.

What impressed me so much about this book was the handling of character. Vix is a worthy protagonist, of course, though being fictional, he can be anything Kate wants to make him. But when you’re dealing with such larger-than-life characters as Hadrian, Antinous, Antoninus Pius (still known as Titus at this point) and Marcus Aurelius, not to mention Sabina herself – the lady of the eternal city, being able to achieve a three-fold win with them is near impossible. Because the best portrayals of real characters are: believable, historically accurate, and surprising. And to do all three is the work of a true master/mistress of the author’s craft. I will focus on the principal character here because, while he is not one of the book’s protagonist, he is the one who influences them all and who they all influence…

Hadrian is not what I’d expected. I’d never seen him as capricious and dangerous before. History throws at us the picture of the ‘great’ emperor Hadrian and we laud his abilities and vision. We do not notice the idiosyncracies that go along with such genius. The Hadrian in Kate’s novel is unpredictable, violent, dangerous, clever, far-sighted, loving, adventurous and brave, and so much more. He is a truly fascinating character.

What adds to the many facets of the man, though, is his progress as an emperor. Though he is strong willed and – let’s face it – has ultimate power at his fingertips, there is a recurring theme in the book that the great man would fall foul of his own dark side and bring the empire down with him if it were not for those clever men and women surrounding him, trying to nudge him onto a path of not only greatness, but also goodness. In that respect, Vix and Sabina are the most important characters in the novel, I would say.

At the start of the novel I dreaded reading on, for I feared Hadrian was set up as a true villain, but that is not the case, and as the book progressed I came not only to understand the man, but even to appreciate him. His final scenes in the book are wonderfully portrayed and stay with me.

Throw away your mental image of Hadrian and delve into that which Kate provides. It is a fascinating study of a man and a tale that is somewhat harrowing in places – the sort of harrowing you can only experience when you become too invested in a character.

The tone and writing of the book is rich and opulent, like the world in which the characters live, and at times it might seem over-so, but I think that is just a facet of writing well about character’s motivations in the world of imperial Rome and the circles of power. And I think that the book would have been poorer for a plainer approach. Interestingly for me, Kate is an American author, and I can usually spot an American voice in the prose straight away. To some English readers, a strong American tone can be distracting, but with Kate’s prose it blended seamlessly into the history and felt as comfortable to a British reader as a British author would.

So in short, this is a very intricate character-driven piece about the complex character that was Hadrian and the effects upon him of those few folk who were strong and wily enough to help him be what he needed to be. It is also a tale of more than one love and more than one loss. It is a rich Roman tapestry that draws your attention and holds it throughout.

Highly recommended, and confirms what I suspected: Kate Quinn is at the top of her game.
Profile Image for Lauren.
155 reviews4 followers
February 13, 2021
I am so sad to leave the world of Sabina, Vix, Titus, Annia and many more. Definitely a series, where I will buy all the books from the series. I purposely would not read it for certain length of time, because I didn't want it to be over. What a end to a series!
I do feel like though, Mirah got a little jipped though. It seemed like it might be really easy for Vix to be able to say "I release you", or something, similar to what that other married man did. Maybe that's because though I really liked her too. I didn't know who Vix would have picked at the end! It was a very satisfying ending, to a fantastic series!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books293 followers
April 1, 2015
I'm not a big fan of Rome. Roman stories tend to focus too much on war, bloodshed, and gladiators. It's a lot of testosterone, but Ms. Quinn shows us that the strength and power of Rome not only lied with its men, but also its women, women like Sabina and Annia.

Annia is only a girl in this novel, but I have no doubt (at least I hope!) she'll be in a future novel, kicking butt and taking names--or maybe busting more nuts, literally.

Sabina is Empress, married to an emperor with foul moods, a thirst for blood, and a desire for his own sex. It's an unusual marriage. How she withstands the moods, the tiptoeing, the loneliness...is beyond me, but she does. As the hero's father says to him one day, a true soldier bides his time... I think that's what she does. Because she never comes off weak or out of control. A pillar of strength, she is.

The story periodically strays to Vix, her former lover and the emperor's main "bodyguard". I confess my mind began to stray when it focused on Vix. I didn't care about Judea or its war or his wife or daughters or even the arguments between him and the emperor. It just didn't interesting me as much as Annia....my favorite character in the entire novel, a little girl who loves to run, who busts nuts, who say the wittiest things, and stands up to anyone.

There's an angry emperor, a war, a wall being built, travels, temples, romance, secrets, feisty females, and there's also a murder. Who did it? Why? What will happen to those who find out? The ending is a rush of a excitement that readers will not soon forget.

I also felt that this novel showed different marriages very well. You can be married to your best friend and not feel desire. There's no shame in it. You can be married to someone you have nothing in common with and yet still desire. Vix and his wife wanted different things and in the end, one could not accept the other. Perhaps it wasn't intended, but I began to muse on marriage and how we mustn't want to change our partners but accept them for who they are, much like Sabina and the emperor do.

It's a long book, over 500 pages, and I could reveal more, but I don't wish to spoil it for anyone. Suffice it to say, the writing is well done, the sexual scenes and relationships revealed tastefully, and the history--while I am not an expert on Rome, I can say that I was transported. I was in the story. I was running through the vineyards with Annia, lounging with Antinous and Hadrian on the couch. I was able to transport myself from 2015 Utah to 100-something A.D. Rome. And while it didn't interest me as much, the war in Judea, I walked away having learned much.

Final thoughts and favorite quotes are here: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2015/...
Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.