Favorite Historical Fiction Books:
This list changes from time to time. Let me know your favorites. Maybe they’ll become mine, too.
1. Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers
Dumas is always at the top of my list. He is the father of the swashbuckling adventure, and few, if any, have done it better since.
2. Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose
A compelling mystery and perhaps the most accurate portrayal of the medieval mindset ever.
3. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series
O’Brian manages to combine memorable action, historical accuracy, and a surprising dose of humor: a rare feat indeed.
4. C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series
My introduction to historical fiction as a child, these are books that I still come back to.
5. J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur
A side-splittingly funny look at the British Raj in India.
6. James Clavell’s Shogun
All of Clavell is great, but this is my favorite of his Asian Saga.
7. Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome Series
The First Man in Rome, in particular, is a splendid story. The relationship between Marius and Sulla is great, but it is the details of daily life in Rome that make the book really shine.
8. David Nevin’s 1812
This is my favorite of his American Story series about the early years of the United States. Great action and fascinating characters, particularly Andrew Jackson.
9. Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire
Pressfield’s novel about the Spartan’s heroic stand at the Battle of Thermopylae is soaked in blood and gore, yet still manages to retain a sense of humor. Skip the movie 300 and read this instead.
10. Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost
A wonderful historical mystery set in Restoration England–it is a novel full of insight and mirth. It kept me on my toes until the very end.