Kate Quinn is one of my all-time favorite authors, and her Rome series is a treat I like to indulge myself with by revisiting every now and then. Two years ago, she left off mid-series to take a sojourn through Renaissance Rome and the story of Giulia Farnese, the infamous "Bride of Christ," who delightfully scandalized Europe as the favorite concubine of the Pope! While that duology was a load and a half of fun, I was ecstatic to learn Kate will be presenting us with the fourth installment of her Rome series next year. If you've never meandered over to the Q's on the bookshelf, please allow me to try and convince you to do so...
Wonderful! Kate Quinn hit it just right with her debut novel, clearing the way for subsequent success. I know that some readers have complained that the romance between Thea and Arius was too much in the spotlight or that it detracted from the story as a whole, but I do not agree. The relationship played a key role in how the plot was resolved. True, it was the focus of the first part of the book, but I think that it was important for readers to have the depth of emotion made apparent early on so that the ties between these two characters would not seem superficial when the focus was on other events and interactions later on.
The language was occasionally too modern to be believable in the ancient setting and I found myself tripping over it. Otherwise Quinn's style flowed well and allowed the story to be the main event as opposed to overly-flowery descriptions. The characterization is another extremely powerful component of this book, allowing the reader to not only see things from everyone's point of view, but understand their feelings and motivations (even those of a certain character we love to hate!). Bravo!
If there is any single aspect of this book that really sets it apart more than any other, it is the dynamic characterization Quinn excels at. Characters I loved at the beginning of the story proved less-than-admirable by the end. Likewise, those I thought weak or unappealing in Chapter 1 became some of the more impressive individuals by the conclusion. Even so, each character had the ability to win both my affection and my resentment simultaneously. That is a rare feat for any author of any genre. Bravo!
Unlike this book's predecessors, EotSH did not tend toward language which was too modern for the setting. This made the story flow so well, allowing me to just immerse myself in the telling. Quinn's shifts from first- to third-person have been criticized, but I felt that it did not hamper the story at all. And (once again) the wonderful characters proved to be the best part of the book, even over and above the plot line itself. Bravo!