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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.
A prolific writer of ancient history adventures who always spins a good yarn (some a bit far-fetched, but hey, they are fun), sets his latest in Sicily in 412 BC. It is the story of Dionysius, this one steeped in historical fact as this complex Tyrant is sympathetically portrayed.Comparison: Christian Jacq, Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell.Similar this month: Steven Pressfield, Stel Pavlou.
Hard-edged crime set in Texas in the 1930s and starring a self-elected law enforcer, the deceased local copâ€™s wife Sunset. With the oil boom, the Ku Klux Klan and a bunch of odd-balls, there is obviously much corruption and greed about. I really like this fellow whose wacky characters and outlandish situations make for an interestingly different read.Comparison: Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, Robert Crais.Similar this month: None but try Paul Adam and Andrew Pyper.
I must wax lyrical a moment. If you are a lover of the sprawling epic, if you appreciate an historical novel steeped in ideas, speculation and fact, if you love a good swashbuckling read or if you just want to lose yourself in another world, then this magnificent trilogy is for you. But you must start at the beginning. They are called The Baroque Cycle and cover European history during the years of enlightenment, covering much of the late 17th and early 18th centuries and they are truly stunning. Begin with Quicksilver, move on to The Confusion and feel bereft when you finish this one.Comparison: None. Unique but try Iain Pears and Andrew Miller.Similar this month: None but historically you’ll love Steven Pressfield and for a mystery try Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Comparison: Francis Cottam, Andrew Klavan, Richard North Patterson.Similar this month: None but try Nicholas Evans or Joanne Harris.
You may be familiar with Richard Sharpe from his many books or from the television series. But Cornwell is a prolific writer, he has written on the American Civil War, the Arthurian period, the Druids and even Regency romantic adventure. Now he tackles the Vikings and Alfred the Great. Through a fictional observer, Uhtred, we manage to follow all the major events during a twenty year period. Ingeniously, as the lad is tossed from one side to the other, the contrast of the lifestyles and conflicting beliefs of the two sides are beautifully drawn. A very fine book indeed. Highly recommended.Comparisons: Conn Iggulden, Wilbur Smith, Valerio Massimo Manfredi.Similar this month: Harry Bingham, Simon Scarrow.
For pure invention of plot and characters I cannot praise it enough. For page-turning power and suspense, it’s top rate. For all lovers of something unusual, it’s a must.Moving effortlessly back and forth over the centuries, two powerful souls feel compelled to kill each other. But why? This is a thrilling and highly plausible tale of reincarnation that reaches back to the Trojan Wars and forward to today as each must remember his past, seven times over. Comparison: Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, John Connolly.
The second in his Alfred the Great/Viking series which is set to be just as big as his previous successes. Vikings seem to be popular at the moment, but of all the sagas crossing my desk, Cornwellâ€™s is by far the most compelling. He has a fast, exciting style and captures well the passion and brutality of the time. This installment of the story has Alfred hiding in a swamp trying to rally support while the Danes walk all over his Kingdom of Wessex. As ever Uhtred, the protagonist, is caught up in the middle, his loyalty torn between his British relatives and his Danish foster family, and his resentment of Alfredâ€™s overly religious rule boiling over. I love this book. For historical escapist adventure Cornwell cannot be beaten.Comparison: Conn Iggulden; Simon Scarrow, Christian Jacq. Similar this month: Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Steven Pressfield.
When the film broke in America at the end of last year, several books appeared but this is the one that rose above the rest. Interestingly narrated in the voice of Alexander himself, it brings to life the passions and ambitions of this driven, complex man in full-blooded battle cry. Terrific stuff.Comparison: Manda Scott, Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow.Similar this month: Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Neal Stephenson.
Ryan likes to take a piece of historical fact, mostly from World War I or II, and flesh out characters and emotions to create some very intriguing mysteries. This one has a daughter tracing her missing RAF father in Northern Italy. I like his mix of adventure, fact, fiction and romance. Heâs good.Comparison: Robert Goddard, Gerald Seymour, Douglas Kennedy.Similar this month: Santa Montefiore, Allan Folsom.
A heartfelt and uplifting story of friendships and passions bound by danger in World War Two, Tuesday's War is the highly acclaimed debut finalist of Richard & Judy's How to Get Published competition 2005
Journeys in the Dead Season was a finalist in Richard & Judy's How to Get Published competition and was referred to by one of the judges of the competition as a future Booker Prize winner. Juxtaposing the experiences of a survivor of the Great War with the recollections of an alleged child murderer in the present, this is a masterpiece of psychological complexity.
A very special book indeed, magical in all its senses, which has just won the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award for best book. Slow to get into and long, it is written in the style of the period in which it is set, Regency, which I felt added to its charm. It’s about magicians, different strands of magic, highly imaginative with many layers and intricate sub-plots and, despite the dusty language, is totally compelling. A highly intelligent alternative history which I urge you to read and become totally hooked. If you are interested click here to visit the publishers site. Comparison: Charles Palliser, Glen David Gold, Iain Pears.To view a reading guide for this title click here
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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