Can anyone recommend a good historical novel?
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Thread: Can anyone recommend a good historical novel?

  1. #1

    Default Can anyone recommend a good historical novel?

    So I've gone all the way through Cornwell's Sharpe, Arthurian, Saxon and ACW books. I've read Scarrow's offerings as well as Sidebottom's and numerous others so I'm all Romaned out. I've recently read Saul David's “Zulu Hart”, "Vlad: Last Confession" by C. C. Humphreys and Patrick Mercer's Crimean novel “To do and die” which were on offer in Asda.

    What I fancy now is a good historical yarn based on the English Civil War but there doesn't seem to be much out there. I'm not particularly interested in anything set post 1900 so even though there's a mass of what I'm sure are really good WW2 epics I'm not bothered about them.

    I need some books to put on my birthday list. Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations?
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  2. #2

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    Wilbur Smith is usually a good read and not too heavy

  3. #3
    Superfreak!!! Sand Rat's Avatar
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    Got no historical suggestions from the ECW. However, Steven Pressfield has some interesting pieces set in Ancient Greece, theres always Foresters Hornblower novels (and The African Queen if you want to go a bit past 1900), and the Aubry/Martin Novels.
    Dr. Walter Bishop: I have used this technique to extract information from a corpse once. You can do that if they haven't been dead for longer than six hours.
    Peter Bishop: [in the background] Right, 'cause after six hours, that's when they're really dead.

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  4. #4

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    George MacDonald Fraser andthe flashman chronicles are pretty historically accurate (apart from some obvious alterations for plot reasons) and amusing. Portrays an anti-Sharpe character set in the mid to late nineteenth century.

    For ECW... what about something by Walter Scott?

  5. #5

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    I've enjoyed a few by Diana Norman. Barry Norman's missus. They're mostly set around the period where the US is emerging as a nation, or just has. That really only informs the background, the stpries are not neccesarily about those events. They're as much character driven as anything. Surprisingly enjoyable, with a female lead and author, coming to them after time spend with Bernard Cornwell was quite groovy.

    If you've an interest in China, "Empress Orchid" by Anchee Min could be an option. The lead character is the last Empress, from her peasent beginnings, to a concubine competing with others in court, all the way to the end. Offered me perspectives I'd not have thought to think about.

    For something a deal more raw blokey, could stretch the historical needs and go for some by the late, great David Gemmell. His last trilogy covered the events we're aware of surrounding Troy. With a lead character overlooked by the Odyssey, but presented in such a way as to provide an "in" to the story without riding roughshot over what we know. It's more "inspired by history" than a true historical story. And if David Gemmell is an author that hasn't yet been devoured then they could be an introduction to his style. Uplifting and satisfying as it is.

    There's another series of historical fiction I'm after myself. I read a couple of them years ago, and the memory being what it is I can't recall who wrote them or even a title. Were set in or just after the crusades, in England, with a strong lead character bolstered by service out there and now back trying to live a good life, bring up a daughter without a mother, while hunting religious relics.

    Edit: Walter Scott getting mentioned. Yeah, I'd echo that. His Ivanhoe, excellent. I'd should call it memorable, but since I forgot it... Doh!
    Last edited by Wyrmypops; 03-30-2010 at 11:04 PM.

  6. #6

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    I like the Star Wars novels. What? It all happened. Just 'cause it was "Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away..." doesn't make it not true!

    I also like "Gates of Fire" by Pressfield (I think) hardly heavy reading and likely not too historical. Maybe some WWII autobiographical stuff? I liked "Soldat" by... gah... can't remember. INtersting read though. He was the actual man who had to type up the official surrender of Berlin general order. "Panzer Battles" by Von Melethin I liked too. BUt that one was a little more dry.

  7. #7

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    The last "book" I got was 100 classic books on Nintendo DS loads of stuff there and with the DS it still works out a bargain
    Louisa May Alcott - Little Women
    Jane Austen - Emma
    Jane Austen - Mansfield Park
    Jane Austen - Persuasion
    Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice
    Jane Austen - Sense and Sensibility
    Harriet Beecher Stowe - Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    R.D. Blackmore - Lorna Doone
    Anne Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
    Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre
    Charlotte Bronte - The Professor
    Charlotte Bronte - Shirley
    Charlotte Bronte - Villette
    Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights
    John Bunyan - The Pilgrim’s Progress
    Frances Burnett - Little Lord Fauntleroy
    Frances Burnett - The Secret Garden
    Lewis Carroll - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
    Lewis Carroll - Through the Looking-Glass
    Wilkie Collins - The Moonstone
    Wilkie Collins - The Woman in White
    Carlo Collodi - The Adventures of Pinocchio
    Arthur Conan Doyle - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    Arthur Conan Doyle - The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
    Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim
    Susan Coolidge - What Katy Did
    James Fenimore Cooper - Last of the Mohicans
    Daniel Defoe - Robinson Crusoe
    Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge
    Charles Dickens - Bleak House
    Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
    Charles Dickens - David Copperfield
    Charles Dickens - Dombey and Son
    Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
    Charles Dickens - Hard Times
    Charles Dickens - Martin Chuzzlewit
    Charles Dickens - Nicholas Nickleby
    Charles Dickens - The Old Curiosity Shop
    Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist
    Charles Dickens - The Pickwick Papers
    Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities
    Alexandre Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo
    Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers
    George Eliot - Adam Bede
    George Eliot - Middlemarch
    George Eliot - The Mill on the Floss
    Henry Rider Haggard - King Solomon’s Mines
    Thomas Hardy - Far From The Madding Crowd
    Thomas Hardy - The Mayor of Casterbridge
    Thomas Hardy - Tess of The D’Urbervilles
    Thomas Hardy - Under the Greenwood Tree
    Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
    Victor Hugo - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Victor Hugo - Les Miserables
    Washington Irving - The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon
    Charles Kingsley - Westward Ho!
    D.H. Lawrence - Sons And Lovers
    Gaston Leroux - The Phantom of the Opera
    Jack London - The Call of the Wild
    Jack London - White Fang
    Herman Melville - Moby Dick
    Edgar Allen Poe - Tales of Mystery and Imagination
    Sir Walter Scott - Ivanhoe
    Sir Walter Scott - Rob Roy
    Sir Walter Scott - Waverley
    Anna Sewell - Black Beauty
    William Shakespeare - All’s Well That Ends Well
    William Shakespeare - Antony and Cleopatra
    William Shakespeare - As You Like It
    William Shakespeare - The Comedy of Errors
    William Shakespeare - Hamlet
    William Shakespeare - Julius Caesar
    William Shakespeare - King Henry the Fifth
    William Shakespeare - King Lear
    William Shakespeare - King Richard the Third
    William Shakespeare - Love’s Labour’s Lost
    William Shakespeare - Macbeth
    William Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice
    William Shakespeare - A Midsummer-Night’s Dream
    William Shakespeare - Much Ado About Nothing
    William Shakespeare - Othello, the Moor of Venice
    William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet
    William Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew
    William Shakespeare - The Tempest
    William Shakespeare - Timon of Athens
    William Shakespeare - Titus Andronicus
    William Shakespeare - Twelfth Night
    William Shakespeare - The Winter’s Tale
    Robert Louis Stevenson- Kidnapped
    Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island
    Jonathan Swift - Gulliver’s Travels
    William Thackeray - Vanity Fair
    Anthony Trollope - Barchester Towers
    Mark Twain - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Mark Twain - Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    Jules Verne - Round the World in Eighty Days
    Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    Oscar Wilde - The Importance of Being Earnest
    Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Plus you can download more...
    AND play games!

  8. #8
    Superfreak!!! Torn blue sky's Avatar
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    YES! Fortunately for you I logged in by chance!
    Theres a series by a guy called Conn Iggulden (sp) about Ghengis Khan. Historically accurate but written in a clever story narrative.I think it starts with a book called "Lords of the Bow". I'd thoroughly recommend it! The bits he left out he actually puts in a epilogue in the end, and also cleans up some facts. It actually gives you an incredible insight as to why this man rose up, and how. A lot of things I had no idea about which lead me, now, to believe. This man was some kina hero in his own right! Not only that, but a brilliant genius.

  9. #9

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    you could always read some harry turtledove . he does alternate civil war stuff and a bunch of what if stuff. the book i read were japan took over Hawaii was sad but historical accurate ( and damned scary)
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  10. #10

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    The Young Montrose by Nigel Tranter (if you like this there's a sequel). Nicholas Carter wrote a series of novels from the 90s set in the ECW, first one's called Turncoat's Drum, I think there are six books in total. And if the era is of particular interest without the need to have action centre stage then As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann and Wife To Mr. Milton by Robert Graves might be worth hunting up.

    Honorable mention: Michael Crichton actually has a novel set in about the same era called Pirate Latitudes.

    Einion

  11. #11

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    Good sign or bad sign, but everything I would have recommended is already up there.

  12. #12

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    Forgot to say in my previous post that a classic (and quite historically accurate) book on Japanese history is Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. That was a great read.

  13. #13
    Superfreak!!! Sand Rat's Avatar
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    Heres a completely non serious one - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Funny read.
    Dr. Walter Bishop: I have used this technique to extract information from a corpse once. You can do that if they haven't been dead for longer than six hours.
    Peter Bishop: [in the background] Right, 'cause after six hours, that's when they're really dead.

    Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar. S. Clemons

    Because I don't have enough madness in my life : http://topographyworkshop.blogspot.com

  14. #14

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    pillars of the earth. pretty thick but a damn good read. and i don';t like books like that. would be an easy transition for someone into fantasy
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torn blue sky View Post
    YES! Fortunately for you I logged in by chance!
    Theres a series by a guy called Conn Iggulden (sp) about Ghengis Khan. Historically accurate but written in a clever story narrative.I think it starts with a book called "Lords of the Bow". I'd thoroughly recommend it! The bits he left out he actually puts in a epilogue in the end, and also cleans up some facts. It actually gives you an incredible insight as to why this man rose up, and how. A lot of things I had no idea about which lead me, now, to believe. This man was some kina hero in his own right! Not only that, but a brilliant genius.
    I will second that series, well worth picking up for a read also the Rome series by the same author is very good (about 4 or six books in all if I recall).

    Also as a one off pick up a copy of a book called Gates of Fire about the Spartans at the gates of Thermapalay (spelling) very good read done in a third person perspective and a lot better than the film 300 version.
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  16. #16

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    I can only reinforce the suggestion of Gemmell's Troy series - its a *ahem* little *ahem* earlier than you're looking for, but is a brilliant piece of historical fiction. I believe its pretty much the last thing he wrote before he died, too.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodenanteater View Post
    I can only reinforce the suggestion of Gemmell's Troy series - its a *ahem* little *ahem* earlier than you're looking for, but is a brilliant piece of historical fiction. I believe its pretty much the last thing he wrote before he died, too.
    Yeah, it's the last thing he did. He died halfway through writing the third book. His wife had to finish it off alone.

    If only Douglas Adams had such a like minded wife, we could have enjoyed the thrd Dirk Gently book he failed to finish.

  18. #18

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    The Ramses novels by Christian Jacq were pretty good if memory serves me right. Starts with Ramses: The Son of Light - Volume I .

  19. #19

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    Pillars of the Earth
    Shogun

  20. #20

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    Here be dragons is a good book set around the time of King Henry, and his sons Richard and John, and the welsh princes. There are also books like 'The other boleyn girl' if you want to go a little later

    Shaz

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