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Monday, October 14, 2013

Top Ten Historical Fiction

Historical fiction are novels that re-create a period or event in history and often use historical figures as some of its characters. To be deemed historical, a novel must have been written at least fifty years after the events described.
Most of us read fiction for pleasure, but some of us gravitate especially to works about the past. People have enjoyed historical fiction since 800 BC when Homer wrote about the Trojan War in the Iliad. The worlds to which historical fiction carries us may seem utterly different from our own - but they really existed. A deep understanding of the past can help us understand our own time and our own motivations better. And by blending history and fiction, a novel lets us do more than simply read history: it lets us participate in the hopes, fears, passions, mistakes and triumphs of the people who lived it. It’s not history as such but a great writer. who has done meticulous research, can truly bring the past alive.
The following listed books are some of my favorite novels of historical fiction. I’ve read them all, some more than once.

Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
 Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman in the Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine series

 Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Shogun by James Clavell   

First Man in Rome (and following books) by Colleen McCullough 
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon  

 Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follet
   Killer Angels....Michael Shaara   
War & Peace by Tolstoy 

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
Now what are some of your favorites?


Montanagirl said...

The Count of Monte Cristo. Not sure I've ever read the book, but I sure like the movie.

David Oliver said...

I absolutely loved "Shogun." I read it after seeing the series on TV many years ago. I read "War and Peace" last year? Finished it this year? I can't remember. My son said it took me 3 years to read it, I think it was only 2. :)
There were parts of it that I loved but for me it was mostly a tough read. I've heard it is much better if you can read it in Russian.

amanda said...

I have not read ANY of these books.. I better get reading!
The Pillars of the Earth does happen to be on my to-read list.
And I do favor history in my fiction.

Anvilcloud said...

I have read historical fiction, but only Outlander and Pillars from this lot. I wasn't overly impressed with either and did not read the sequels.

NCmountainwoman said...

I loved Pillars of the Earth but my favorite of your group is The Killer Angels. I'm a Gettysburg groupie.

Haddock said...

Out of all these, I have read only The Count of Monte Cristo.

Stewart M said...

"The last English King" is good as well - it'd from the view point of one of the foot soldiers who failed to protect Harold in 1066.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Ien in the Kootenays said...

I love, love, love historical fiction, as well as good speculative fiction. Funny you should mention the 50 year rule. I have remarked at our local book club that anything written prior to 2008, and even more so anything written prior to 9-11-2001 seems like historical fiction by now.

You make me feel ashamed I have never read the Count of Monte Christo. Really must read some French again. It used to be as transparent as English, these days my lips move, :) I am surprised you did not include the superb work of Hilary Mantel on the life of Thomas Cromwell and the reign of Henry VIII. You have a treat waiting. I also recommend the surprising series about 5th century Britain by Jack Whyte, starting with The Sky Stone. Arthurian legend with a twist: a well researched account of the times, speculating on how the legends might have come to pass. Of your list I only read Outlander and a few of the sequels, War and Peace twice, and Shogun.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

PS Also favourite: anything by Geraldine Brooks. You might like to start with March, an account of the civil war experience of the father of Louisa May Alcott.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is an interesting list....sure wish I had read at least one of them. :)
I really DO enjoy biographies though, but I find that my reading time lately is limited.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Zhoen said...

I like Lindsey Davis' Didius Falco series, (although I think her latest works are not up to snuff.) But for a real historical novel, I think The Course of Honour (1998) is amazing.

Amy Tan, who does historical flashbacks in her novels.

And Eva Figes - The Seven Ages, which is short stories, mostly historical fiction, linked through a modern framing story.