Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Fiction, Half Off!

This week, the Broke and the Brookish inquire: what are your favorite settings for historical fiction?

1. Medieval



Castles, lyres,  armies of armored men on horseback,  columns of swords-, spear- and bowmen…what’s not to like? Besides plagues, I mean. And..the lack of dentistry and various other things that stave off death.

Mostly I’ve read from Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom, Agincourt, etc), with the only recurring author being Alison Weir (The Lady Elizabeth).

2. Republican Rome

Rome becomes decidedly less interesting after the rise of the Empire.  Several authors of interest: Robert Harris, for his political-legal thrillers based on the life of Cicero, plus his Pompeii; Steve Saylor, for his late-republic detective novels;  John Stack, for a naval trilogy between Rome and Carthage;  and Simon Scarrow, whose series about the invasion of Britain by Rome I am currently ankle-deep in.

3. Gilded Age America

In the late 19th century, the cities swelled with immigrants and displaced farmers alike, and the products of the industrial age saw the cities transformed in response. Here is the age of trolleys,  the rise of mass spectator sports, mass politics, the early years of the Mafia…all sorts of things of interest!

4. Early America


Let’s say this covers everything from novels set during the colonial period, up to the Civil War.  Most of the books I’ve read in this category are ‘classics’ like The Scarlet Letter and Tom Sawyer, but Bernard Cornwell also penned a few Revolutionary War novels. (Redcoat, The Fort), and David Liss has his The Whiskey Rebels.

5. World War 2


I don’t especially like reading World War 2 fiction, I just…happen to do it a lot.  Jeff Shaara would have started me on that, with his European trilogy, but in recent years I’ve also read a lot of Phillip Kerr’s mysteries set in 1930s-1940s Europe. As much as I like Kerr’s thriller-crafting and humor,  they are dark to the point that I’ve considered not reading him anymore. Perhaps one once in a while, though.

I know the title says “Top Ten” Tuesday, but my historical fiction reading isn’t all that diverse. It’s the middle ages and Rome, really.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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6 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Fiction, Half Off!

  1. R.T. says:

    Stephen, I like the 50% offering; I tend to prefer American historical fiction with Hawthorne, Twain, and Crane leading my hit parade, although I did enjoy Ken Follett's medieval doorstoppers and Dan Simmons' Drood. I shall have to try Cornwell's American history recreations. Thanks for the posting, which gives me more to add to my reading wish-list.

  2. CyberKitten says:

    I seem to be collecting quite a bit of WW1 and WW2 fiction ATM which will filter through to the review section eventually. You might like some of it. I do feel a deep neglect of all things Roman though. I must do something about that – but so much history, so little time… [lol]

  3. I'll definitely have to read Bernard Cornwell! 🙂 Great list, I'm taking note of some of the other authors you mention too!

  4. Stephen says:

    Be warned: “Redcoat” is more about personal drama than battle.

  5. Stephen says:

    I'm working on a piece that's part Roman history (part Persia, part Arab)…it may inspire me to take on Caesar's “Conquest of Gaul”!

  6. Stephen says:

    I hope you enjoy if you pursue a few of them!

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