Review: Rhea Silva: The First Vestals of Rome Trilogy by Debra May Macleod

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

An unflinching, breathtaking retelling of the story of Rhea Silvia, fated by the gods to play a spectacular part in the mythos of Rome—the mother of Romulus, Rome’s legendary founder.

It is 772 BCE, nearly two decades before the birth of Rome. The city of Alba Longa and its king, Numitor, reign supreme. But Numitor’s children, Princess Rhea Silvia and Prince Egestus, fear for the city’s future. With Rhea set to marry an unpredictable enemy, they can see the end of their family’s 

dynasty as surely as their ancestor Aeneas saw the fall of Troy.
In a bid to maintain power, Rhea is set on a harrowing course that will push her to the limits of human endurance, forcing her to turn to the gods and rise with the ferocity imbued in her Trojan blood, sacrificing everything for the new Troy—Rome.

RHEA SILVIA is the first novel in The First Vestals of Rome, an epic trilogy about the founding Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome.



Guest Reviewer Frannie’s Thoughts:

As a child, I grew up with two dogs named Romulus and Remus.  I had heard the story of the two infant boys, their being banished, raised by a she-wolf and eventually their founding of Rome.  I have read many myths about the boys over the years, but this book is about their mother Rhea Silvia and her audacity as a woman to take her place in the history of the 8th century.    

It is the first book in a trilogy about three demonstrative women who shape the history of Rome, the “Eternal City.”  It starts out with the Trojan Horse taking the city of Troy and Aneas escaping with the fire of the gods.  He eventually is the founder of Alba Longa and that is where the story takes off.  

The lineage of the royal families is brutal. It explains the evolution of the kings, their deviance, their hatred, and deception in such excruciating detail that it is often disturbing.  The fact that women had no rights and they continued to forge on to establish their place in the world is illuminating and humbling.  

The dramatization of the scenes is superb, it keeps the reader captivated and intrigued. That intensity coupled with the love scenes, the incest, the brutal domination of men over women, is impossible to break away from.  The story is true to its time, which can be uncomfortable today, but I believe the writer, given her extensive knowledge of the time, is able to pull you into another world.  A world that brings you from the “old” to “new” with brilliant clarity.  With such grace and dignity, she explains why women had so much suffering and are still striving for independence today.  

Shockingly painful at times with the murders and brutal killings, there is a shining light that beacons one into believing that with evolution there is hope.  It is the founding of the religious order, the Vestal Virgins, or the goddess of the hearth.  This non-Christian cult played a key role in the religious ceremonies of ancient Rome.  Our heroine Rhea Silvia played a critical role in this prominent order until its demise in the dark ages.  

If you love history, the Roman empire and the sex, fights and deception that allowed these privileged people to create one of the greatest cultures in the world, you will love this book. 

About the Author: Debra May Macloud participated in numerous research excursions in Rome.  She is well versed in the history of the Vestal Virgins legacy, its rise, and its fall.  She provides her writers with invaluable perspectives of the life of a woman in 772 BCE.  Debra has a BA in English and a JD.  She lives in Canada with her husband and her son.  Her website is a plethora of historical information about the Vestal Virgins, check it out .  

© Copyright 2022 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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