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