Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

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Looking For a Book About.. > Historical Action Epics Like Braveheart or Gladiator

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message 1: by Jared (last edited Apr 09, 2019 10:27AM) (new)

Jared Pahl | 2 comments I'm brand new to Goodreads, and I am incredibly ignorant about which novels are popular or good. However, I am deeply in love with movies. One genre I love is the historical action epic (My favorites are Braveheart, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Troy, and The Last Samurai). I was wondering what books are out there that capture the spirit of these historical epics. Heroes, battles, intrigue, romance. Generally action-oriented (swords, blood, gore) and epic. Any location, any ancient time period. I'm most interested in the really popular stuff, but more obscure choices are cool too.

Any recommendations?


message 2: by Jerry (last edited Apr 09, 2019 11:39PM) (new)

Jerry Bennett | 146 comments Jared wrote: "I'm brand new to Goodreads, and I am incredibly ignorant about which novels are popular or good. However, I am deeply in love with movies. One genre I love is the historical action epic (My favorit..."

You won’t be short of material Jared. Some of the ‘series’of books will surely meet your ‘epic’ category. Just choose your era.

For the Greek/Persian/Alexandrian era, try Christian Cameron.
Romans - Harry Sidebottom, Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow, Douglas Jackson, and many others.
Saxons/Vikings - Bernard Cornwell , Giles Kristian, Matthew Herffey.
Medieval - Robyn Young, Nigel Tranter (from an earlier era).
Tudors and later - Too many to list!

And that’s only scratching the surface.

Authors-wise, Bernard Cornwall could be a good starting point. He has his own discussion section within this group and his eras range from Viking to Medieval, the Peninsular War and the American Civil War. He is easy to read as well.

If you do pick on a series to read, it will be worth while discovering which book is the first in that series. Many are good self-standing stories in their own right, but some knowledge of what has happened in a previous book in the series is often worth while.

Happy reading - and be prepared for a deluge of suggestions.


message 3: by May (new)

May (mayzie) | 838 comments Jerry, this is a great list!! Well done! It should get Jared off to a GoodRead!!


message 4: by happy (last edited Apr 16, 2019 02:41PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 2694 comments Jerry wrote: "Jared wrote: "I'm brand new to Goodreads, and I am incredibly ignorant about which novels are popular or good. However, I am deeply in love with movies. One genre I love is the historical action ep..."

another couple of authors for the medieval list

Sharon Kaye Penman (English from Henry II to Richard III)
Conn Iggulden ( Series on the War of the Roses, The Mongols as well as one on Julius Cesar, plus a couple of stand alones)


message 5: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments happy wrote: "Jerry wrote: "Jared wrote: "I'm brand new to Goodreads, and I am incredibly ignorant about which novels are popular or good. However, I am deeply in love with movies. One genre I love is the histor..."

All the recommendations and books mentioned are excellent. I would add Elizabeth Chadwick's books on William Marshall. Oh, and Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield - a truly incomparable novel.


message 6: by Jared (new)

Jared Pahl | 2 comments Thanks for the recommendations! I'm looking at Gates of Fire and Simon Scarrow's Under the Eagle to start with, but I might do some more research. Seems like there is a lot out there.


message 7: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 564 comments You might enjoy Island of Ghosts by Gillian Bradshaw, which was also a group read here a couple of months back. I've had a hard time getting back to it, so it shows as 10% on my shelf or something ridiculous, but that's not the fault of the book....


message 8: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Jared wrote: "Thanks for the recommendations! I'm looking at Gates of Fire and Simon Scarrow's Under the Eagle to start with, but I might do some more research. Seems like there is a lot out there."

You're correct - there is a lot out there! Some really great books mentioned here, and we are only scratching the surface.


message 9: by Varun (last edited Apr 18, 2019 11:24AM) (new)

Varun (varunkhanna) | 7 comments In addition to the stellar recommendations offered so far, if you like The Last Samurai... you may like James Clavell's Shōgun.


message 10: by happy (new)

happy (happyone) | 2694 comments Varun wrote: "In addition to the stellar recommendations offered so far, if you like The Last Samurai... you may like James Clavell's Shogun."

How could I have forgotten that - totally agree!


message 11: by Pinudya (new)

Pinudya | 3 comments Hi Jared .... You have chosen Simon Scarrow's Under The Eagle. That's good. Also you can try Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom or Harlequin. Both are the first book of its series. Or, Conn Iggulden's Wolf of the Plains as the first book of Conqueror series.
Totally agree with Jerry and Eileen ..... there are tons of books out there!


message 12: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 564 comments Here's another I just remembered: Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. The later books shade into historical fantasy, which may or may not bother you, but the first stays pretty close to reality.


message 13: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Not sure if this one has been mentioned, but Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell.

Also, The Religion by Tim Willocks.

I didn't like Azincourt, but it is highly valued among Historical Fiction readers.

The religion. Well. This I loved. It has everything you have requested on your wishlist. Love, romance, gore, epic, battle, like a movie...etc..


message 14: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Also, I haven't read this yet, but there is a very good possibility, from everything I have heard and read about it, that Lancelot by Giles Kristian may fit the bill here. And because the author is one of my favourites, I trust what I have heard.

Lancelot by Giles Kristian

Seeing as you liked Braveheart, there's the trilogy of Robyn Young set on the Wars of Scottish Independence.
That trilogy starts with.
Insurrection (The Insurrection Trilogy, #1) by Robyn Young


message 15: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Robert wrote: "Loved both Agincourt and The Religion. The Religion is a truly remarkable book."

Really unique. I haven't heard anything good about the sequel, though.


message 16: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited May 01, 2019 10:04PM) (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Really, Eileen? Then let me give some goodness to Twelve Children of Paris. It is better than The Religion in my opinion. Loved it.
I know Robert feels the same way about the sequel.
I highly recommend it.


message 17: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Terri wrote: "Really, Eileen? Then let me give some goodness to Twelve Children of Paris. It is better than The Religion in my opinion. Loved it.
I know Robert feels the same way about the sequel..."


I'll have to look it up then!


message 18: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Please do! What a fascinating book it was. I only got to it finally last year.
Super graphic violence as was the first book too, but so much depth and intelligence in the story and writing.


message 19: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Robert wrote: "Mattias and Carla from the The Religion and 12 Children of Paris are two of my favorite protagonists ever. I wish Dr. Willocks would hurry up and give us the next book in the series. I would inhale..."

It is truly odd that the 12 Children of Paris was not published in the US, and there's no ebook available for it. The only way I can get a copy is buying it used from overseas.


message 20: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Unfortunately it looks more and more like buying from overseas is the only way Americans can access most of the hist fic these days, Eileen. A real shame it is too.


message 21: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments Robert wrote: "Mattias and Carla from the The Religion and 12 Children of Paris are two of my favorite protagonists ever. I wish Dr. Willocks would hurry up and give us the next book in the series. I would inhale..."

Mattias and Carla are definitely my favourite couple ever. But Mattias is my preference for favourite protagonist ever. He is right up there with Uhtred for me.


message 22: by Reeda (new)

Reeda Booke (book-wizard) | 18 comments Robert wrote: "Sorry to all for my off topic rant. Edward IV could not have survived today. He was way too toxic masculine."

That's ok, Robert...I agree with you.


message 23: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn (mbk1857) | 379 comments Me, too.


message 24: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 151 comments What a great day! These bad liberals and the PC Police not allowing this great warrior to be like Uhtred. I envy the good old days when a grown up man behaved as a grown up man. Uhtred would be proud of you complaining about these evil people.


message 25: by Jane (new)

Jane | 3456 comments Robert wrote: "Or Uhtred and Matthias."

I guess I'm a dissenter. I loathe Uhtred and Tannhauser doesn't move me one way or the other.


message 26: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited May 06, 2019 04:54PM) (new)

Terri | 19505 comments haha. okay..okay..steady people...this could go wayyy off topic. And not end well either I may add! With people getting offended left right and centre (especially the left, going off the comments so far). ;-)

So, yes, where were we. Uhtred and Matthias. Super enjoyable characters to read about for me.

Hopefully Willocks gets Twelve Children made into a movie by that French director and it will be popular enough to make him write, or finish, the final book in the supposed trilogy.


message 27: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19505 comments I get tempted to contact his agent and put the feelers out on a book three. But those literary agents are a funny lot. I'd likely never hear back.


message 28: by S. (new)

S. Pitt | 6 comments The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff is one book I've always thought would make a great historical action movie (though often classed as a children's book it wasn't meant as such) - it's short and I still find it exciting to read. The Mark of the Horse Lord


message 29: by Amit (new)

Amit Arad | 2 comments Hello Jared,

I share your love in historical action epics like Braveheart & Gladiator & Troy and have seen each of them several times. I hope my books will capture the spirit of these historical epics:
The Rise of the Maccabees by Amit Arad The Maccabee Rebellion by Amit Arad


message 30: by Michael (new)

Michael  Ponzio (goodreadscomancestry) | 5 comments Warriors and Monks Pons, Abbot of Cluny (3) by Michael A Ponzio
"Warriors and Monks". Monasteries, pilgrimages, weapons, ships, battles, God, theology, geography, history and romance!


message 31: by A.V. (new)

A.V. Arms | 2 comments I think you will find enjoyment in the Norman Invasion Trilogy.
The Dead King


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