Historical Fiction




DUMAS, Alexandre    

The Count of Monte Cristo     1844

Huge (common) and coherent (rare) epic; Tolkienesque scope, Shakespearian setting





HESSE, Hermann

Siddhartha      1922

Beautifully readable fictional presentation of the life and enlightenment of Siddhartha



The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet     2010     Historical Fiction

Ably integrated research, rich characters, interesting plot lines, satisfying and engaging from start to finish


O’BRIAN, Patrick

The Fortune Of War (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 6)   1979     Historical Fiction/Action

Thoroughly enjoyable


PÉREZ-REVERTE, Arturo      

The Fencing Master    1999 (trans.)     Historical Fiction/Crime

Sophisticated. Stunning climax





DUMAS, Alexandre    

The Three Musketeers      1844

Action, flawed but heroic personalities, fascinating alternate historical values


ELTON, Ben   

The First Casualty       2005     Historical Fiction/Crime

Alternate political characters enhance rather than overwhelm WW1 crime story


O’BRIAN, Patrick  

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 1)  1970     Historical Fiction/Action

Impressive sense of another (intriguing) time, people and place


Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 2)  1972     Historical Fiction/Action

Engaging and fascinating characters, settings and action


Treason's Harbour (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 9)    1983     Historical Fiction/Action

Exotic locations and people, interesting twists of plot, fascinating historical perspectives, and all within an utterly satisfying frame






Regeneration   1991     Novel/War/Historical Fiction

Insightful WW1 profiles from well researched imagined psychological counselling sessions with the ‘shell-shocked’


HARRIS, Robert   

Fatherland       1992     Thriller / Historical Fiction

Filmic clichés, but able characterisation and pacing never sacrificed to novel Nazi hook


KEILLOR, Garrison    

Lake Wobegon Days   1985     Short Stories/Historical Fiction/Humour

Nostalgic, languid, imaginative, warm, whimsical, indulgently tangental


McINTYRE, Vonda N.

The Moon and the Sun     1997     Historical Fiction/SF

Cleverly evoked ‘What If’ SF/French court romance hybrid. Condescending historical revisionism


O’BRIAN, Patrick  

HMS Surprise  (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 3)     1973     Historical Fiction/Action

Impressive weaving of professional and private lives in breathing detailed historical context


The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 8)   1981     Historical Fiction/Action

Keeps up the high standard


The Far Side of the Word (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 10)    1984     Historical Fiction/Action

More extremes of luck in this episode, but much was out of your control in the open sea


The Reverse of the Medal (Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 11)    1986     Historical Fiction/Action

Just keeps on delivering the goods, extraordinary


VIDAL, Gore   

Creation    1981

5th Century BC celebrities. Scholarly, able, but hardly a page turner


WILLIS, Connie

Doomsday Book   1992     SF / Historical Fiction

Two concurrent storylines: one mired in triviality and stereotype; the other powerful and affecting




AUEL, Jean M.

The Clan of the Cave Bear 1980

Epic around a Homo sapiens heroine raised by Neanderthals


BROOKS, Geraldine

People of the Book     2008     Novel/Historical Fiction

Clever enough idea competently realised – but not really for me


DOYLE, Arthur Conan     

Sir Nigel    1906

The 14th century semi-quixotic adventures of a starry-eyed teen gaining knighthood


DUMAS, Alexandre    

The Black Tulip     1850

Melodramatic romance, skulduggery thwarted at the 11th hour



The Playmaker      1987

Time and setting overwhelm characters


KENT, Alexander       

The Flag Captain   1971

Adventure on the high seas. Not Patrick O’Brian, but not bad either



Atonement      2001     Novel/Historical Fiction

Too much setup, evocative war scenes, dubious dénouement


O’BRIAN, Patrick

The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey/Maturin, Book 16)      1993

Still good, but perhaps more one for the fans



The Leper of Saint Giles   1981     Crime/Historical Fiction

Competent medieval whodunit


SETON, Anya       

Katherine   1954

Dramatisation of common girl’s actual rise to mistress then wife of a 14th C. Duke


SMITH, Wilbur     

The Sound of Thunder (Sean Courtney series)     1966     Action/Historical Fiction

Engaging Boer war action, dubious ‘heroic’ character


TUROW, Scott            

Ordinary Heroes         2006     Historical Fiction (WW2)

Unconvinced by the frame, but some powerful characters and battle accounts






Sharpe’s Company     1982     Historical Fiction/War

Authentic Napoleonic wars props and setting; absurd pantomime characters



Batavia 2012     Historical Fiction

A bit pointless: poor fictional elements impede the fascinating non-fictional ones



Captain Alatriste   1996 (trans. M.S. Peden, 2005)      Historical Fiction/Action

Disappointing: more jingoism than intelligent historical action




WOLFE, Gene      

Soldier of the Mist 1986

Unusual, based around several interesting ideas but rarely gripping




DAVIS, Lindsay    

Scandal Takes a Holiday  2004     Crime/Historical Fiction

Some OK research maybe, but overwhelmed by contemporary cliché characters and glib voice





The Vesuvius Club     2004     Historical Fiction/Humour

Farcical Moore-type Bond characters and plot; obscenity overdressed in big words