Thread: Best historical fiction
January 5th, 2002, 03:45 AM #31
Oh I forgot some of my favorites. The Horatio Hornblower series by C.F. Forrester. They are set in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.
Then there's the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. Same war, but with riflemen and infantry instead of navy.
No one said how far back they wanted their historical fiction. These two series are pretty good reads.
January 5th, 2002, 04:59 AM #32
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I think I know which Dutch Gibbon version you're on about, Mith., I've seen a copy in the bookshop here - yellowish silky-soft "bible" paper, hardback, golden-red jacket & ... "incredibly costly" ... over 50 errrh euro (ugh!) if I remember correctly. I think I'll go for the abridged Penguin version, there's no need for me to know all the details (the salient ones will do ).
Just had best friend on the phone ... is going on & on & on about Suetonius' "Twelve Caesars" which apparently is one of the funniest books ever written ?!?
There's no beating Robert Graves, I agree. He's simply the best.
Colleen Mc Cullough. Isn't that the author of "The Thornbirds"? Bweurrrrrk! Are her Rome novels better?
Friend tells me that Lindsay Davies' Didius Falco novels are a lot of fun (detectives in Ancient Rome).
Susan, that's the same Cornwell who wrote a trilogy on Arthur, as well as "Harlequin"?
[This message has been edited by whitebelly (edited January 05, 2002).]
January 5th, 2002, 12:36 PM #33
I wasn't saying that Charlie Palliser is French. I only tried to remember the name of the book The Quincunx. Surprising myself, I only misspelled it by a letter (q instead of c).
What else? Lindsay Davies. Her Didius Falco-novels are delightfully fun read, heartily recommended entertainment.
Mists of Avalon was excellent IMO, but not for everyone, I'm afraid. Interesting change of POV.
Bernard Cornwell is the man behind Sharpe. Just borrowed his latest(?) from the library, Archer's Tale.
Oh, it's the American name for Harlequin! What the! So it's then the first part of a new series... Dang! Does anyone know whether it's also a standalone?
January 5th, 2002, 06:15 PM #34
Yep Bernard Cornwell also wrote an Arthur series. I am not sure about Harlequin, but he appears to be pretty prolific. So far, I'm only familiar with the Sharpe series, thanks to the A&E productions. He also wrote three set in the Civil War of the US, and a novel called Stonehenge.
His forte seems to be military fiction. Even his Arthur series is military based. I'll need to get hold of it, sounds like an interesting take.
I've put the Archer's Tale on hold at the library. Should be here Monday.
January 5th, 2002, 09:56 PM #35
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I have to second the recommendation of Pressfield's Gates of Fire and Dunnett's Lymond Series. Dunnett does have an irritating habit of using different languages in between the text and not bothering to translate..but u cease to notice it after a while.
However, my favourite historical series is definitely McCullough's Master of Rome books. They r amazing!!!!! Dont let anybody tell u otherwise. Thornbirds comes nowhere close. They are totally different in style and content. I used to be totally indifferent to roman history and other historical books in general, but this one totally blew me away. Made me realize that republican rome was far more fascinating than the rome of the emperors.
Read up the reviews in Amazon. They tell it far better than i can. if u read historical fiction, u cant miss this series.
January 5th, 2002, 11:25 PM #36
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My apologies, mundanemies, for my misunderstanding on Palliser. Haven't read "The Quincunx" either (started it some time back, but had to stop through lack of time & when I picked it up later I'd completely lost the plot). I bought an uncorrected proof copy of "The Unburied" second-hand, as I heard it was very good, but I haven't had time to delve into that either (pff, I wish I had one of those Time reversal devices Hermione uses in "The Prisoner of Azkaban").
Susan, I just did a check on the off. Cornwell website , and "Harlequin" is indeed the UK title for "The Archer's Tale" (US). From what I can gather it can be read as a standalone.
An author I haven't seen mentioned here is Arturo Perez-Reverte (The Dumas Club, the Fencing Master, ...).
[This message has been edited by whitebelly (edited January 06, 2002).]
January 5th, 2002, 11:44 PM #37
As Imonski says, Mc Cullough's Rome books are said to be very very good. I know some folks who really enjoyed them.
Suetonius seems cool enough. Twelve Caesars is a very famous work of course and there's often a good reason for it. I'm not really sure, but I think the time period Suetonius described is in large part the same one I Claudius and its sequel deal with.
Dunnett I won't start until I have several more years of reading experience. Even diehard fans say her writing style is really exhausting and I'm not quite up for that, having exams and such
Whitebelly, the book you described is the one I've got yes. Very beautiful, and very costly. It was a birthday present though, I don't spend so much money on a single book (only because I can't! ). It's already the abridged version btw.
Bernard Cornwell is most famous for his Arthurian trilogy, which consists of Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur. It's told from the POV of Derfel, a soldier in Arthur's army who himself grows to become a main character in the story. Very realistic, gritty style.
January 6th, 2002, 03:01 AM #38
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- New York, NY USA
I enjoy the Perez-Reverte novels, I think they're good entertainment. I read Spanish so I try to read them in the original if possible. I've read Flanders Table and Dumas Club and have a couple more sitting on my shelf. Including La Carta Esferica, which I believe is the newest and may not have been translated into English. I'm not sure I'd really call them historical novels, by the way.
For Dummett fans, the New York Times Book Review published a long front page essay on her novels around the time she died. You can probably find it on their site. I've never read her stuff, but it seemed like a good introduction.
I mentioned it above, but one of my guilty pleasures is the Flashman novels. These are a series of novels written by George MacDonald Fraser about a fictional British military officer who lived in the nineteenth century. As this was the time of expanding British imperialism, Flashman gets into trouble all over the world -- Afghanistan, China, India, the Crimea, the American West, Indonesia, etc. A few things make the Flashman novels interesting: 1. They are very well written; 2. The history is impeccable, and the books all contain copious endnotes, which you can skip if you want but which are interesting in their own right; 3. Flashman is an anti-hero; he is by his own admission an absolute scoundrel and a coward and gets out of sticky situations only by trickery and deceit and by screwing over someone else. As a reviewer noted, every time you start to like him a little he does something even more unspeakably awful than whatever came before. But he's never found out and continues to gain honors through his entire life. A word of caution -- Flashman is also an absolute lech and the novels contain a fair amount of sex. In the end it's more ribald than pornographic but I would still say these are probably not suitable for younger readers or folks who are easily offended.
January 6th, 2002, 03:52 AM #39
I have the first book of one of Dunnet's series in my to-be-read pile. Forgot whether it was the series set in Scotland or Italy. At any rate, have not gotten around to it yet.
One recommendation of an actual historical piece of fiction is Egil's Saga. It's readily available from Penquin books, and is an interesting tale of Egil Skalgrimmson, a particularly evil and murderous poet in the mid 900s Scandinavia. Egil has some pretty hairy adventures, most of them brought on by his horrible temper. Trouble starts when he is 12 and he kills two boys with an axe because he lost a ball game.
January 6th, 2002, 05:46 AM #40
It's set primarily in Scotland Sus
January 7th, 2002, 05:56 AM #41
How many 'Avalon' bks did MZB write, and what order should they b read in please? I bought one - can't think which - cos it looks really good, and now i daren't start it cos while reading the blurb again i suddenly got the nasty feeling that it was the lastof a series.
January 7th, 2002, 06:33 AM #42
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This is the order in which they were published:
THE MISTS OF AVALON
THE FOREST HOUSE (aka FORESTS OF AVALON)
THE LADY OF AVALON
PRIESTESS OF AVALON
The historical chronology, however, is:
THE FORESTS OF AVALON
LADY OF AVALON (parts 1-2)
PRIESTESS OF AVALON
LADY OF AVALON (part 3)
MISTS OF AVALON
But each book can be read as a standalone, so I wouldn't worry about it.
[This message has been edited by whitebelly (edited January 07, 2002).]
January 7th, 2002, 09:28 PM #43The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters, the series is made up of 18 stand-a-lone books about a 'detective' monk in the time of King Stephen.
Also, right now I'm reading a historically based fantasy parallelling WWII by Harry Turtledove. "Through the Darkness" It's got pages of characters so is pretty daunting to begin. Because we stay with one character's point of view in each country/situation, it's not as difficult to follow as it seemed at first. Evidently this author writes other historically based novels. I was miffed to find out that it's the third in the series.
"Into the Darkness" is obviously a previous one in the series, but I don't know the other.
I hate it when I'm halfway though a book and I find that I skipped the first few. But I'm reading the rest of it anyway.
It's got lots of gruesome parts in it because the mages get power from executions. (The Kaunians parallell the Jewish.) It has some very sweet but not explicit sexual scenes. Lots of fighting and war scenes.
It's well organized so it makes sense and reads easily. So I'm actually learning a little WWII history.
January 9th, 2002, 02:21 AM #44
Eco, "Name of the rose"
Graves "I, Claudius"
MC'Coullough's "Master of Rome series" (don't be deterred by the Thornbirds, this reads like George R.R. Martin)
Davis "Falco novels" (nice entertaining detective novels set in Rome"
Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe", "Warlord Chronicles" and "Grail series" entertaining, light reading.
Patrick O'Brian's "Master and commander series" about a Captain and his ship's surgeon cum spy in the Napoleonic wars.
Anything by Forrester from Hornblower to African Queen.
And of course George Fraser Mc'Donald's "Flashmen" perhaps the most fun historical series ever!!!
January 9th, 2002, 07:50 AM #45
Another recommendation for Mc Cullough.
Barbarossa, to change the subject, what did you like about a Song of Ice and Fire?Any characters in particular.
Harlequin, is that part of the Grail series? Or didn't you include that one?
[This message has been edited by Mithfânion (edited January 09, 2002).]