Historical Fiction Books

Whether it be historicals set in Italy or ancient Greece or historical fiction books about Ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs or Alexander the Great, Cleopatra right up to the events of WW11 .... explore and be fascinated.

In this section you can explore some of the wonderful historical fiction that I have read. Best selling books about Ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the French Revolution ......

The standard of writers in this genre make these novels some of the top fiction books you can read..... simply as reading for pleasure or to learn more of times past in a fun way ... reading books-4fun!

The great thing about historical novels is that they take you to a period that was real and re-create it for us – opening up both intriguing stories, plus also informing us of the actual history of the times, people and places – usually with accuracy and attention to historical fidelity.

The variety is almost limitless - from the intimate to the epic - we can become intrigued by romance, unfettered ambition, murderous intrigue, political manipulations, unbridled passions - and the humanity of the people who strode across history's stage so much larger than life - Pharaoh Rameses 11; Alexander the Great; Julius Caesar; Henry 11 and Eleanor of Aquitaine; Llewelyn of Wales; Mary, Queen of Scots .... and so many more.
This is most especially true of authors like Colleen McCullough and Sharon Kay Penman – the two whom I consider are ‘the’ exemplars of excellent writing, great historical research and detail, marvelous characterization and endlessly fascinating plotting and narrative.

With writers like these you are wonderfully entertained, and quietly educated at the same time.

Great writers such as Mary Renault and Margaret George bring alive great historical characters in realistic fiction and re-introduce them to us who have learnt of them in dry old history books at school and Uni. They can make reading books -4fun a reality and a pleasure.

Likewise, there are also historical fiction writers who use other eras of history as settings for crime yarns – some straight forward ‘whodunits’(e.g.Lindsey Davis) and some with that ... plus tongue in the cheek humour added in.

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David Wishart excels at the latter in his Valeriuis Corvinus novels – which read like an ancient version of ‘Marlow’; whilst Sharon Kay Penman has added to her oeuvre of straight forward historical novels an excellent small series involving medieval skullduggery and detective work.

And, it gets better - with Lindsey Davis' series featuring Marcus Didio Falco. She delivers wit and wry humour, great narrative, twisting plots and loads of fun - a series that is a delight to follow.

Her latest book "Master and God" is worth your while - as it relates the story of Domitian.

Having said that, I have included books that are set in the ancient world that are not so ‘realistic’ as they mix in an element of fantasy within the story – not always successfully – but that may be a matter of taste – and some do this well, others not so well.

David Gemmell, Judith Tarr are two who do it well – but I have my doubts about Wilbur Smith’s foray into historical fantasy (River God etc), as I do even more so with Christian Jacq.

Mind you, I still read them, but with some frustration. In the case of Smith and Jacq – there is enough in their subject matter to weave great yarns and hold our interest …. so I find their use of the fantasy device to detract more than add to a “good” read. At least Smith is a good writer, which is actually more than I can say for Christian Jacq.

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Benjamin Franklin

But, as I am a sucker for anything set in the ancient world, I become less discriminating regardless of the writing quality because I love the history of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

Well, there are exceptions – I am not particularly interested in the Mayan, Inca and Aztec civilizations so if I mention them it is with the caveat that my comments are not based on reading unless otherwise noted.

Historical fiction books are some of the best books to read and, vary not only in period or era, but in style, research and detail; with some mixing in other genres as well – e.g. crime, romance and war.

Certainly for me, historical novels are some of my best loved books – always a good read. The authors are usually on my must read list when I check out bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Waterstones or Borders Books and Music.

Browsing bookstores to discover that ‘gem’ or finding the latest from a favourite author is a pleasurable way to spend time. And now that most good bookstores are also online bookstores, it is easier to obtain books – especially if one cannot access them physically – like me because of where I live.

Online purchasing can often bring in bargains, and hard to find books can often be found in sites that specialize in used books.

When to read? Anytime – as long as it is often or regular! Books are such great entertainment – be it summer reading, beach reading or whiling away time on a rainy day – or an alternative to the idiot box.

For those times, while I love a great crime thriller, equally satisfying is a good yarn set in medieval England or ancient Rome..... or reading of the exploits of a 'Hornblower' or being thrilled by the Master and Commander. Recreational reading is exactly that – reading for pleasure. The variety is almost endless – some are best selling books and others are little gems not widely known. Some are character driven (e.g. Julius Caesar), others centred on a locale as it evolves throughout time (e.g. Edward Rutherford’s Sarum and Russka and, of course, Michener’s books) – and others are event centred (e.g. Robert Harris’s Pompeii - and Penman’s series on Wales)

I should note that I tend to think in terms of historical books as being up to the end of the Victorian era (1901) – whereas others would add in the period up to and including WW11…. Which would include good story tellers like Douglas Reeman and Robert Harris’s WW11 books…. which are excellent examples of realistic fiction.

CLICK THE LINKS BELOW for the best authors - Note more will be added - see the update page

Go to Sharon Kay Penman's great historical novels

Click here for Colleen McCullough & the Masters of Rome & Troy

Go to the ancient world of Alexander and Troy

Go to 3 great authors of historical books
Go to the Trojan War

Achilles, Hero of The Trojan War

Go to Paul Waters - a new historical novelist

Return from Historical Fiction to HOME Page

This website will put you in touch with many more authors and reviews of really good novels set in ancient times. Historical Novel Society

In this genre
Sharon Kay Penman

Colleen McCullough - Masters of Rome and Troy

Mary Renault
Margaret George
Margaret Youcenar

The Trojan War

Achilles and The Trojan War

The Ancient World

contact me with your needs Very reasonable monthly rates

by Ben Bova

Better known for his Sci Fi novels, Ben Bova has applied his master storytelling skills to the historical novel genre - with a very satisfying story of Lukka, a Hittite soldier who becomes embroiled in the Trojan War after his home city is destroyed at the collapse of the Hittite empire and his wife and children have been sold into slavery.

While embellshing upon the legend of Troy, the novel is still plausible and a great read. RECOMMENDED. Hopefully, we will see two sequels in the near future

There are more suggested historical novels for sale on our new page CLICK HERE