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Historical Fiction...share your favorites!
Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
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I am an avid student and reader of history, primarily military and political. In between I love to bury myself in a good historical fiction novel as it is the closest one can get to try and imagine what it must have been like to live through these situations or eras. I'll start the list with 3 of my favorites, and hope you will share some of yours! If you are like me you are always looking for a good new book to read so share the wealth!
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1. Board Game: Rome at War II: Fading Legions [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:6020]
Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
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EAGLE IN THE SNOW by Wallace Breem

For fans of ancients and Rome in particular this needs to be in your library. As the Roman Empire begins its collapse a legion is sent to the Gaul/ Germania border to defend it. The people the legion is defending won't help, Rome's promised support never comes, and the Genral Maximus is left to do his duty. In a word; haunting. I read it every year and it sticks with me for a week after everytime.

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2. Board Game: Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D. [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:4568]
Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
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IMPERIAL GOVERNOR by George Shipway

Queen Boudica's Revolt as told from the perspective of the Imperial Governor in charge of holding Britain and collecting tribute for Rome. Interesting perspective as it's told from the Roman point of view as the Governor attempts to put down a revolt and hold Rome's power with limited military resources. Gripping political and battle scenes which are not heroic in telling for either side.
 
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3. Board Game: The Royal Navy [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:4033]
Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
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THE CRUEL SEA by Nicholas Monsarrat

Mr. Monsarrat served aboard corvettes and other ships for the British in WW2 and the authenticity in his fictional work is gripping. Follow the crew and men into battle in the North Atlantic. A battle against weather, fellow shipmates, and wolfpacks. A stunning fictional trip on board a small ship in the dark early days of WW2 for the British.

Turned into aan excellent movie as well, but please READ the book first-you will be glad you did!
 
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4. Board Game: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World [Average Rating:5.33 Overall Rank:9582]
Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian.

The entire Aubrey/Maturin series is excellent, and the movie wasn't bad. Despite being written starting around 1970, you'd think the author lived in the era (Nelson to Napoleon, Age of Fighting Sail). It takes a while to get used to the flow (and the nautical terms), but by the second book I was hooked. I've had trouble finding the 13th book, but I'll eventually finish out the series (20 or 21 books, depending on how you count).

The NYT called this the greatest historical fiction series of all time.
 
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5. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:252]
Joe Geerkin
United States
Eden
New York
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The Skystone - Jack Whyte

It's the first book in a very interesting series about the fall of the Roman Empire in Britain and a telling of the King Arthur story. Arthur, Merlin, et al are treated as historical figures in a plausible story.
 
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6. Board Game: SS Amerika [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:7409]
Mo Caraher
Canada
British Columbia
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Most of Harry Turtledove's stuff - alternative history or hypothetical history. Starting with Guns of the South or How Few Remain and carrying on with the Great War and World War series which describe the Civil War and World Wars I and II in vastly different circumstances.
 
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7. Board Game: Western Town [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:1728]
Peter Franklin
United States
Unspecified
California
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Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry
Pulitzer prize winning novel about the American West in the frontier days. I haven't seen the movie of this, but I had some pre-conceived notion of this being some shmaltzy western romance story or something like that. It was nothing of the sort. This was a great epic novel about what it would have been like to live in those days. It doesn't romanticize or mythologize the old western cliches, but rather derives its strength through the interesting characters and story and vivid imagery of this interesting and very brief time in America's history.
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8. Board Game: Days of Knights [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
I'd rather be gaming...
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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Alfred Duggan is one of my favourite authors of historical fiction.

Here's a Wikipedia outline of his career:

Alfred Duggan (1903 - 1964) was an English historian, archeologist and best-selling historical novelist during the 1950s. His novels are known for being grounded on meticulous historical research. He also wrote some excellent popular histories of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. Knight With Armour was his first novel, written in 1946. He visited practically every place and battlefield described in the book, because he was also an archeologist, having worked on excavations in Istanbul during the 1930s.

Knight with Armour (1946)
Conscience of the King (1951)
The Little Emperors (1951)
Lady for Ransom (1953)
Leopards and lilies (1954)
God and My Right (1955)
Winter Quarters (1956)
Devil's Brood: The Angevin Family (1957)
Three's Company (1958)
Children of the Wolf (1959)
Founding Fathers (1959)
The Cunning of the Dove (1960)
The King of Athelney (1961)
The Right Line of Cerdic (1961)
Lord Geoffrey's Fancy (1962)
Besieger of Cities (1963)
Family Favourites (1963)
Count Bohemond (1964)
The Romans (1965)
Castles (1969)
Elephants and Castles (1973)
Alfred the Great (2005)
Sword of Pleasure (2006)

I haven't read every single novel but the ones I've read (Knight with Armour (1946), Lord Geoffrey's Fancy (1962), Count Bohemond (1964, Winter Quarters (1956) and Three's Company (1958)) have all been enjoyable with an eye for historical accuracy.


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9. Board Game: Waterloo [Average Rating:4.38 Unranked]
 
Melissa
Australia
Parkville
Vic
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AN INFAMOUS ARMY by Georgette Heyer.

Heyer is best known as one of the founders of the romance genre, as well as as a crime novelist, and An Infamous Army is a romance (and sequel to her other novel Regency Buck). But it is the setting of AIA that really makes it stand out - and that has made it required reading at the Sandhurst Military Academy.

The title refers to the Duke of Wellington's nickname for the collection of armies under his command in 1815 at Waterloo.

(FWIW, I think this is probably Heyer's second best work, her best being Venetia but that is more of a straight romance)
 
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10. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:187]
shumyum
United States
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Under a Marble Sky by John Shors

A story about the building of the Taj Mahal, and it's quite a story. Lots of good intrigue (and romance for those who like mushiness).
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11. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:205]
rick nichols
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

In this first book of the series, McCullough details the rise of Gaius Marius, the outsider who transformed the Roman Army into the military force that would conquer and maintain the greatest empire the world has ever known. Ironically, Marius's rise also signals the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic, which McCullough explores in the rest of this series. McCullough's prose is brilliant and her interpretation of history is fascinating.
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12. Board Game: The Battle of the Little Big Horn [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:7759]
Paul Day
United Kingdom
Buckingham
Buckinghamshire
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Son of the Morning Star by Evan S Connell

A wonderful account of G. A. Custer and the battle that shook the early US of A.

"Faction" at it's best.
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13. Board Game: The Indian Mutiny [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:9170]
Paul Day
United Kingdom
Buckingham
Buckinghamshire
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Flashman and the Great Game by George MacDonald Fraser.

If you have not read any of the adventures of Flashman, the Cad who always comes up smelling of roses and romps through what seems like all of Victoria's Little Wars - start now! devil

The Great Game is perhaps my favorite - funny, sad and shocking in equal measures it closely follows the tragic events and heroism of the Indian Mutiny.

All the Flashman books deserve your attention. GMF packs an awful lot of minutely researched history into all aspects of Colonial Wars and Victorian social life - but along the way you will witness hair raising adventure, bawdy lust, epic battles and wry social comment that will make you laugh out loud.

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14. Board Game: Wooden Ships & Iron Men [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:761]
j b Goodwin

Lynchburg
Virginia
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The Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester.

Every time I re-read a book from this series, I am once again amazed at how smoothly Forester's prose reads. The first real superstar in the Age of Fighting Sail genre, Forester gets action, character development, and historical details crammed into one of the best AoFS series ever written. Where would Alexander Kent or Patrick O'Brien be without C.S. Forester? (The same place Terry Brooks or David Eddings would be without J.R.R. Tolkien, that's where!)
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15. Board Game: The Last Days of the Grande Armee [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:5086]
L Myrick
United States
Pasadena
California
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Bernarnd Cornwell's Sharpe's Rifles series about a British rifle company in the Napoleonic wars. Also a fun tv series with Sean Bean.
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16. Board Game: The Three Days of Gettysburg (third edition) [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2729]
L Myrick
United States
Pasadena
California
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Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
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17. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:176]
Michael Trejo
United States
Rocklin
California
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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

This is one of my favorite books, an epic novel about a stone mason trying to complete a cathedral in England during the 12th century. I know that doesn't sound very interesting, but give this book a try. You won't be sorry.
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18. Board Game: Battle of Thermopylae [Average Rating:3.95 Unranked]
Tim Deagan
United States
Austin
Texas
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Gates of Fire, Stephen Pressfield

Great novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
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19. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:718]
Paul Day
United Kingdom
Buckingham
Buckinghamshire
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Herman Wouk - "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance"

Two volumes tracing WW2 and America's early isolationism and later entry into the global conflict through the eyes of a US Naval Officer special observer and his family.

Epic in scale, smalchtzy in places but nonetheless an epic read and very enjoyable. W+R is the better of the two books.

If you want the WW2 on all fronts, on land, at sea and in the air - these are the books to read.
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20. Board Game: Second World War at Sea: Bismarck [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:3884]
Michael B
Canada
Ontario
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A Prayer for the Ship by Douglas Reeman will always reside in my bookcase.

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21. Board Game: Blood & Swash/Thunder & Plunder [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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...much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures...
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... a picked body of Toads, known as the Die-hards, or the Death-or-Glory Toads, will storm the orchard and carry everything before them, yelling for vengeance.
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Rafael Sabatini is a master of the historical swashbuckling genre. Some of my favorite books of his include

Captain Blood and the two sequels;
St. Martin's Summer;
Scaramouche;
The Black Swan and actually many others.

Of course it's almost impossible to top Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers - if you've never read it, you really owe it to yourself to try it.

Stanley Weyman wrote in between Dumas and Sabatini, and had some good swashbucklers, too, such as Under the Red Robe and A Gentleman of France.

More historical fiction later - non-swashbucklers.
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22. Board Game: Mystery Rummy: Murders in the Rue Morgue [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1505]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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...much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures...
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... a picked body of Toads, known as the Die-hards, or the Death-or-Glory Toads, will storm the orchard and carry everything before them, yelling for vengeance.
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I'm also fond of historical mysteries.

The whole Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters is, admittedly, a bit saccharine and repetitious, but the first dozen or so are still very enjoyable. Set in the first half of the 12th century on the English/Welsh border.

The late Kate Ross only wrote four books in her Julian Kestral series before dying young, but they're very good books. Set in the 1820s, the first three in England, the fourth in Italy.

The sixteen (I think) Judge Dee books by Robert Van Gulik are, by and large, excellent. Even the poorest of them is better than most mystery books. They're set in late 7th century China, and while they have some anachronisms (such as dominoes, not invented until later), are very well written with great characters. I list them in the order to read them from my web page - check my profile, then the Fudge page for the link.

Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma books have some good ones, but he also fell down on some of them, alas. Ireland, I think 7th century. Lindsey Davis' Falco stories set in the Roman empire post Nero start weak, become excellent by books 4-5, then weaken again, alas. Edward Marston's Domesday mysteries are pretty strong throughout, and very entertaining - late 11th century England. Laurie King's O Jerusalem is set in Palestine post WWI, and is superb. Alas, the others in her "wife of Sherlock Holmes" books (of which this is one) are much weaker.
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23. Board Game: Britannia [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:345]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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...much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures...
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... a picked body of Toads, known as the Die-hards, or the Death-or-Glory Toads, will storm the orchard and carry everything before them, yelling for vengeance.
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Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts is superb. She has some other excellent books - I think The Beacon at Alexandria is probably the next best - but I love Island of Ghosts the best. I think it's set in the second century AD, about Sarmatians sent to Britain by the Romans.
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24. Board Game: Ramses [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked]
Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
Norway
Oslo
Unspecified
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Ramses by Christian Jacq

Interesting drama with interesting characters, except Ramses himself seems at times more driven by circumstance and fate than actually initiating anything. If I remember correctly - it's been a while since I read them.
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25. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:67]
Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
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Pride of Carthage-David Anthony Durham

Just finished it this morning. A great read and it really brings Hannibal and the Second Punic War to life. Of course there some fudges here and there but I would certainly give this 4 out of five stars a very good read!
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