Historical fiction seems somehow underrepresented these days. Or is it just me? A lot of what I see being talked about falls into the following categories:
1. Historical Romance
2. Historical YA lit
3. Historical fiction of specific popular eras - 20th century, mostly
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these, I do have a lot of classic favorites that don't fall into any of the three. So, since this week's Top Ten Tuesday is YOUR PICK, I decided to make a list of my favorite historical fiction authors, the masters of the genre.
Here we go!
An undisputed god of historical fiction. I read Sinuhe on the beach when I was in middle school, and it left a print on my rib cage as I propped it up, but I could not put it down. Some parts of it gave me nightmares, and those were not even the parts about mummification. I also loved Turms the Immortal, and the Mikael and Mikael Hakim series.
His Accursed Kings series is insanely well researched. He knew all the details that were to know, down to what tapestry hung in what castle hall. He's been to the depths of archives and came out with an amazing series, likable characters, and even more likable villains. (His mythic fiction Zeus' Diary is also pretty fun)
He is on this list for his Soldier in the Mist series. It is the most challenging historical fiction I have ever read, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. The narrator of the story has amnesia, 50 First Dates style: he forgets every night everything about himself. Hence, he writes a journal to remind himself what happened so far - and that's the journal we are reading. The book, accordingly, is inconsistent, often confusing, but full of genius "aha!" moments - and also Greek place names that have been translated to English, as an extra puzzle to Classics enthusiasts. It was a challenge to read and I loved it.
Polish author of Quo Vadis (of old Hollywood fame) and other historical classics such as With Fire and Sword and Teutonic Knights. He wrote characters who well not without fault, but especially likable because of that, and great, big epic historical stories worth following through.
Remember that Kingdom of Heaven movie where Orlando Bloom pretended to be a blacksmith and Eva Green pretended to be slightly less terrifying than usual? Well, it was supposed to be based on Shelby's Knights of Dark Renown series, telling the story of the Crusades. Except the books are infinitely better, full of adventure and awkward love, and great storytelling.
Unlike the others on the list, Rutherfurd is here for one book only: London. He wrote an awesome epic telling of the history of one city through dozens of generations of a handful of intertwined families - and then he tried to do it again and again and again, and repeated the success, but never the quality. I tried some of the other books, and gave up pretty fast. London is a masterpiece, though.
I grew up reading his Fortunes of France series in Hungarian, and was excited to find out that they just started publishing them in English. Fortunes of France is a swashbuckling adventure through religious wars, court intrigue, and a great exciting time of French history, peppered with a cheeky roguish hero and a lot of gratuitous sex.
I already mentioned her on my list last week: The lady took Greek historical fiction to a whole new level. In addition, she also wrote the most adorable, touching same-sex romance about Alexander the Great in The Persian Boy. My favorite of hers is The King Must Die in which she brought Minoan Crete to colorful and breathtaking life.
I love Graves for so many reasons. While his work with mythology is criticized a lot in Classics, he knew how to lift mythology into historical fiction. My favorite book of his is probably The Golden Fleece, but he became most famous with I, Claudius (a book largely responsible for me ending up with a degree in Roman archaeology).
Also mentioned last week: He is a recent new favorite of mine for his Saxon Stories series. An extremely prolific author with a good sense of historical realities, and very likable, human characters. Also, the best battle descriptions I have read in a long time.
There you have my list. Do you have favorite historical fiction?