Can anyone recommend any good historical fiction please?

(43 Posts)
lowra Tue 21-Aug-12 17:48:26

By historical I mean middle ages type era? Thriller, crime or romance...


Try CJ Sansom - tis Tudor but some of the best historical stuff out there imho.

Middle ages - try 'Mistress Of The Art Of Death' which is the first in a series - not great but not bad.

joanofarchitrave Tue 21-Aug-12 18:15:00

I assume you've read the Ellis Peters ones. One Body Too Many is my fave if you haven't, but there are loads.

ODearMe Tue 21-Aug-12 18:15:56

I loved Phillippa Gregory's stuff for an easy read.

MegBusset Tue 21-Aug-12 18:16:34

Wolf Hall / Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - these are fabulous.

TheDreadedFoosa Tue 21-Aug-12 18:17:53

I second Wolf Hall. Brilliant.

joanofarchitrave Tue 21-Aug-12 18:32:34

[jumps on bandwagon] and I have never forgotten reading A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, but I read it at 18 which is when I had more time for reading, I think I was buried in it for about 2 weeks solid so it's not a light proposition.

Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy was amazing at the time I read it. Can't remember much about it but the atmosphere.

Pantah630 Tue 21-Aug-12 18:40:31

Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome's brilliant, well written and researched. A fictional tale set around historical fact.

bamboostalks Tue 21-Aug-12 18:41:11

All of Sharon Penman gut particularly The Sunne in Splendour. Truly amazing and romantic. Very accurate as far as I would know!

Pantah630 Tue 21-Aug-12 18:41:56

Oops missed the middle ages bit recommendation a fair few years prior!

Milliways Tue 21-Aug-12 19:00:57

Have you read Ken Follet - Pillars of the Earth and it's sequel? I loved those.

lowra Tue 21-Aug-12 19:50:33

Thanks for the recommendations smile

highlandcoo Tue 21-Aug-12 20:17:36

Agree with Hilary Mantel - brilliant - and CJ Sansom, you could also try Karen Maitland for more thriller-ish writing. I enjoyed Company of Liars and just about to read The Owl Killers.

MegBusset Tue 21-Aug-12 20:22:36

Also, The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco.

YouBloodyWolf Wed 22-Aug-12 03:52:35

It's possibly a bit later than you asked for, but Sarah Dunant absolutely blew me away with In the Company of the Courtesan and The Birth of the Venus.

CoteDAzur Wed 22-Aug-12 13:57:54

Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Trial of the Templars (non-fiction)

If you don't insist on middle ages:
This Thing Of Darkness

My all time favourite historical one has to be Here be Dragons by Sharon Penman.

JRsandCoffee Thu 23-Aug-12 12:34:30

Sorry if you've read the below but thinking.

Katherine - Anya Seton, the Mummy of all historical novels of a romantic variety ;-) If you haven't read it, about Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt

Alison Weir's novel The Lady Elizabeth about Elizabeth 1's coming to the throne was pretty good but the captive queen or whatever it was was drivel I thought and just not worthy of an otherwise great author I felt. Her factual books are very good, have read a few of them and pretty good reads I found. Her other historical novels get pretty good reviews also though haven't read them.

Jean Plaidy - pick an era, any era......and there will be something, written years and years ago but really good stuff although some of the history persepectives are shall we say a bit unfashionable these days.

Second everyone who recommended Wolf Hall and CJ Sansom.

Also, randomly and out of the right times completely the Boudica series by Manda Scott was pretty gripping.

MumPotNoodle Thu 23-Aug-12 18:18:15

JR, completely agree with you about Alison Weir, some are a lot better than others. Innocent Traitor (Lady Jane Grey) is excellent although obviously not medieval. What about the Cadfael mysteries?

thebestnamesaregone Thu 23-Aug-12 18:34:29

I have just recommended on another thread Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond series, the best fictional hero of all time. (IMO of course)

ladymariner Thu 23-Aug-12 18:41:23

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is absolutely brilliant

Allalonenow Thu 23-Aug-12 18:45:26

For adventure with a dash of romance, Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series set during the Napoleonic wars, is hard to beat.

I second Dorothy Dunnett, truly breathtaking books with enormous attention to detail.

Sharon Penman is great and Legacy by Susan Kay is a cracking read.

AmaraDresden Thu 23-Aug-12 20:26:24

I LOVE historical fiction, and cannot recommend Elizabeth Chadwick enough. The greatest knight is very good, it's about William Marshall if you've heard of him, and I personally love the love knot but it's not her most popular. Seriously, check her out on amazon. Adore her.

24Hours Sat 25-Aug-12 15:59:59

Elizabeth Chadwick...I think I have something upstairs by her that I tried to read. Anglo Saxon times, maybe? Didn't grab me at the time but I might dig it out again on your recommendation AmaraDresden smile

Second everybody mentioning CJ Sansom and Hilary Mantel.

DisorderlyNights Sat 25-Aug-12 17:14:24

I always come onto threads like these to suggest Dorothy Dunnett (Lymond Chronicles are where to start) and Patrick O'Brien.

Great to see other fans have already recced them though! There hasn't been a Francis Crawford of Lymond appreciation thread in aaaaages, but he really is the best historical hero (but flawed hero) of all time.

Both those series can be fairly hard going in parts, the historical precision is excellent but they're not light reading.

When I'm in the mood for historical but not to concentrate I read the time slip Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon, about Jacobite Scotland.

24Hours Sat 25-Aug-12 18:35:06

Tracy. Chevelier migght be one you'd find interesting op. I'm thinking the Virgin Blue about creepy secret religious rites in France / Switzerland around the fifteenth century. Mixed in with a modern story. Easy to read even if the subject matter is a bit harsh

notcitrus Sat 25-Aug-12 18:48:12

Julian Rathbone - Kings of Albion about Harold Godwin and William the not yet Conqueror. And another about the Wars of the Roses.

Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy for history of Newton, Leibniz, the Royal Society, banking, aftermath of Civil War and Glorious Revolution.

hifi Sat 25-Aug-12 19:33:49

Kathryn Harrison,a thousand orange trees is great.
I second Tracy chevallier,read the lady and the unicorn and the girl with the pearl earring.

ladymariner Sun 26-Aug-12 00:20:34

The Lady And The Unicorn is a brilliant read

ladymariner Sun 26-Aug-12 00:20:49


I'd definitely second the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon - some of my favourite books!

I also really love the Morland Dynasty by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - mainly Yorkshire-based family saga. Book one starts with the Wars of the Roses. Book 34 (!) is the latest one, set in the 1920s!

lljkk Sun 26-Aug-12 08:36:59

Really don't like Phillipa Gregory. She makes up too much but manages to say nothing at all. confused

Bernard Cornwall, riveting stuff. Very violent in parts (but then that was the reality of what happened.). Full of obscure history details, too, tonnes & tonnes of politics & cultural details.

And that's why I like hers Lljkk grin - I just started reading Changeling, her latest one, and it has more fantasy/magic/supernatural stuff in it, and that makes it even better for me. I love sci-fi/fantasy, and only read historical every so often, but this one mixes it up a bit. I'm not very far in yet, and I have to admit I almost gave up at the first sentence as it said something about a handgun which made me hmm as it's 14something. I am that sad I had to go and google to find out if they were invented by then blush but they were so I kept going, and so far so good. I'm enjoying it. I will probably start a thread to see if anyone else has liked/disliked it once I get it finished. I tend to "ration" them out a bit to make them last though, and of course the DCs are still off school so I don't know how long it will take me.

Japple Mon 27-Aug-12 18:04:51

...Anything by the Author "Clive Cussler". We try to buy Every Book he has
ever written. Do some Research on him as he is quite Amazing and his
Knowledge is Formidable.His last name is Spelled-C U S S L E R.He is most
Definitely a "History Buff".

DisorderlyNights Mon 27-Aug-12 18:27:24

Erm... Cussler writes techno thrillers, not historical fiction. Some of them have an alternative-historical setting, but even those resemble a James Bond book more than anything else.

Not saying they're not worth reading, they're very popular. (Though I only read one, and the cameo of himself solving the plot with a deus ex machina spoiled it for me personally.) But not really historical.

CoteDAzur Wed 29-Aug-12 11:05:26

Sorry but grin at Clive Cussler as "good historical fiction".

Horses for courses and all that but really...

CoteDAzur Wed 29-Aug-12 11:06:34

Pombear - You should read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

aredmond Wed 29-Aug-12 14:30:02

I definitely add another vote for the CJ Sanson Shardlake series. Loved them all.

whatinthewhatnow Mon 03-Sep-12 09:47:20

pom I am reading here be dragons on your recommendation and it's awesome! really really love it. In fact I'm knackered because I've been up till 2am for the last 2 nights unable to put it down, and my children get up at 6.30! Best book I've read in ages, so thank you!

KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 21:46:10

Can I just say thank you MN for introducing me to Sharon Penman. I've just finished The Sunne in Splendour and am going to need a couple of weeks to recover I think. It's a long time since I've been so utterly gripped by a book. It's one of those that's sort of tilted the way I look at the world. I think I am in the 1480s smile

BigBoPeep Wed 10-Oct-12 22:12:02

oo! an existing historical fiction thread to mine! should have searched maybe

dorothy dunnet - am chewing my way through the nicolai ones...I'm on book 3 and so far finding it very, very samey. Does it get better? The guy's a genius, we get it. Just what is toby's problem with him though? The perceived sinister side of nicolai's character seems totally overblown - he gets them out of trouble and makes everybody a fortune in the process, but toby's never happy, always harping on about how he doesn't want to be part of it...but never leaves. 3 books of that and I'm irritated. Hoping the lymond ones are better.

Puppypanic Sat 20-Oct-12 23:45:28

Keith did it take you a while to get to grip with all the characters?! Why did everyone back then have to be called Edmund, Edward or Richard and all the woman are Elizabeth or Mary - darned confusing and I'm only on about page 30. Worth perservering? Presume yes from your post.

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