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Rich and immersive, transporting and informative, good historical fiction is a sumptuous treat. See the past re-written with our Historical Fiction collection. Here to take you to another time without the cost of building a time machine.
Author of the magnificent ‘Emperor’ series on Julius Caesar now turns his considerable talent to the life of Genghis Khan and his descendants. Another tale of high adventure, brutal times and ambitious people. Wonderful stuff with a lot of human interest, a fascinating subject and loads of action.Comparison: Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, Valerio Massimo Manfredi. The Conqueror series1. Wolf of the Plains2. Lords of the Bow3. Bones of the Hills4. Empire of Silver5. Conqueror
One of the 20 Longlisted titles for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011. On the eve of World War II, two Hungarians meet in Paris and fall in love. But past secrets and the approaching conflict test their devotion to the limit. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer is atmospheric and masterfully told.
This is the fourth of the five Richard Hannay novels and in it all of Buchan's strengths and weaknesses are on show. His use of motifs are most definitely his strengths and in this one, as in Greenmantle it is a riddle or 'key' which contains the clue to the kidnap plot. The villain is one of Buchan's most memorable ones - Medina as you as the reader are both attracted by him and repulsed by him in equal measure. Hannay's success in unmasking and thwarting the villain comes to its denouement on a craggy outcrop in Scotland in which fear and terror is centre stage.
This is the fifth and last Richard Hannay novel but was written and published a decade after the fourth Hannay adventure The Three Hostages just a year or two prior to the start of World War Two. It is often considered to be the forgotten Richard Hannay novel. It features many of the regular characters from the other Hannay novels but here Hannay is rather more passive than in previous novels in which he features. There are some stunning descriptive passages about country life, landsape and place and thankfully although written against the backdrop of The Great Depression and the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, it is an optimistic book and a call to arms that even the most ordinary of men feel they can make a difference. There are scenes of great adventure throughout the book but there isn't a pervading sense of threat in quite the way previous Hannay books had. From the Introduction by Andrew Lownie in The Island of Sheep: Increasingly critics have become aware of the depth and complexity of Buchan’s writing and the hidden subtexts, literary, geographical and historical, and Classical references which here range from Homer, Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning to episodes in African history and the Norse Sagas. A strong influence on the book was Robert Louis Stevenson. Buchan’s thrillers had hitherto not featured children as central characters but The Island of Sheep, especially the last part, is dominated by the adventures of Peter John and Anna, placing the book very much in the tradition of Treasure Island and Kidnapped. Buchan had just finished writing a biography of Walter Scott (1932) and The Island of Sheep is replete with Scott references. This is not coincidental. One of the themes of the book, the recovery of an ancestral Northern culture, that fascinated Buchan the politician as well as the writer had also been an important inspiration for Scott and was currently being mobilised by the Nazis. There is also a conscious borrowing as a literary conceit from Joseph Conrad. Just as there are similarities between Courts of the Morning and Nostromo (1904) – San Tome is the name of the mine in both books – The Island of Sheep reaccentuates motifs from Conrad’s Victory (1915).The Island of Sheep is one of Buchan’s least known books, but, with its various layers of meaning, excellent descriptive writing and several wonderful set pieces of action, it is a book well worth reading after the early Hannay adventures. As The Times Literary Supplement wrote in its review:If we sometimes feel that John Buchan brings gifts of too high an order to the adornment of stories of mere plot and counterplot, it is his own generosity that prompts the criticism. He is so evidently very much more than a yarnspinner; and yet as a yarn-spinner so complete a master.
Bringing his firsthand knowledge of trench warfare and government subterfuge into play, John Buchan has created a cracking, classic thriller. Set during the First World War it illuminates brilliantly the experience of war both on the battle front and on the home front through the eyes of the chief protagonist Richard Hannay also featured of course in probably his best known work The Thirty-Nine Steps. Mr Standfast provides a search for meaning in loss; loss through death on the battle field and although its heroes are fictional the book is peopled with real examples for during the war Buchan was to lose numerous friends and associates and as a consequence the loss feels all the more real as you are driven through the narrative at speed. From the Introduction by Hew Strachan in Mr Standfast: 'Mr Standfast reflects the big issues of its day, but it is a spy story (and, it has to be said, a rather less successful love story), written by a master of the genre. It is to be enjoyed as such.But the big questions of its day deepen and enrich the text, giving it an emotional weight alongside its undoubted pace and masterful narrative.'
Featured on The TV Book Club on More4 on 8 August 2010. A gem of an historical novel with plenty of intrigue and plotting. Set in Victorian England the plot revolves around characters working at the factory of gun maker Samuel Colt. Colt’s ambitious secretary, Edward Lowry, finds himself caught up in a plot to steal guns from the factory, when he falls for Caroline Knox, a feisty girl working on the factory floor. A gripping story with historical detail that thoroughly evokes the London of 1853, this is an atmospheric and thrilling novel.
The Roman invasion of Britain with the Brits trying to consolidate an army out of old enemies and tribes who have never trusted each other up against an army with elephants and brilliant tactics. We all know what happened but the telling of it here is thrilling stuff. Good escapism with excellent battle scenes, it follows Caligula with the same slave, Rufus, our hero, but is easily read on its own. Comparison: Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow, Harry Sidebottom.
Another beautifully written and well researched novel. A psychiatrist tries to solve the mystery behind a successful artist , seemingly, having a moment of madness and attacking a painting in a national art gallery. An engrossing read.
Another thoroughly enjoyable saga from one of the best in this genre. A real page turner.
This begins ‘The Brides of Fortune’ trilogy, a sexy Regency romance laced with murder and dominated by an extraordinary new local tax law in Yorkshire – one that requires all unmarried women to forfeit half their wealth. Naturally a lot of young men hurry to Yorkshire seeking wealthy, desperate brides. Our heroine, recently widowed Laura, has no intention of marrying again … Comparison: Anne Gracie, Gaelen Foley, Jillian Hunter.
Runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Fiction 2012. Set during the extraordinary historical events of the First Crusade this is an original and compelling debut full of mystery, betrayal, secrecy, romance, humour and suspense. Like Dan Brown’s adventures this one is also on the hunt for the Holy Grail and is also a cracking good story but unlike the Dan Brown this one provides an element of literary learning too. Clashes of good and evil as well as clashes of religion is commonplace as a group of desperate Oxford Dons retell the story of Hugh de Verdon, monk turned knight who sets out to uncover the truth behind the Holy Grail. September 2010 Debut of the Month. The second book in the series, The Flowers of Evil, can be viewed by clicking here. The Waste Land was runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Fiction 2012. Simon Acland's non-fiction book, Angels, Dragons and Vultures was also runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Non-Fiction.
Adventure, passion, betrayal, secrets, blood and violence, this is a hell of a read. ‘Spartacus for Girls’ about a Jewish slave girl and a Roman Gladiator, it is terrific stuff. I haven’t been this excited about a first novel since The Russian Concubine. You need to steal time to read it for you really cannot put it down, and nor should you. Comparison: Anita Diamant (The Red Tent), Kate Furnivall (The Russian Concubine), Diana Gabaldon.
Once Upon a Time…
With authors like the two-time Man Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel among its illuminati, it’s no wonder that Historical Fiction is arguably more popular than ever. Follow the lives, loves, betrayals, deaths, trials-and-tribulations of those that went before us.
Whether you follow Sebastian Faulks and P.S Duffy to the hell and displacement of the Front in WWI, Philippa Gregory to the intrigue, immorality and perils of the court of Henry VIII, or get rocked on the high seas of the King’s Navy in Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander, there is a wealth of exceptional storytelling to dive headfirst into. Where will you let our time machine take you today?
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