Thursday, December 29, 2005

Best of...: Historical fiction reads of 2005

As a history buff and a voracious reader, it's only natural that I devour way too much historical fiction. Here are my five most enjoyable reads of the past twelve months:

5: The Ten Thousand, by Michael Curtis Ford.

A modern English re-telling of Xenophon's Anabasis (or "March Upcountry".) A thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat pop-novelized, interpretation of the 5th Century BC Blackhawk Down.

4: Wolves of the Dawn, by William Sarabande.

A coming-of-age tale set in Britain at the dawn of the Bronze Age. This is a period in history that has always fascinated me; what was Europe like in the days when the Pyramids were still young and Stonehenge was already old?

3: The Corridors of Time, by Poul Anderson.

Nominally a Science Fiction writer, Poul has always been more at home in the past than in the future. This book takes place largely in the same setting as the one immediately above, and combines a good yarn with painstaking attention to historical detail.

2: The Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, by Lindsey Davis.

Sam Spade in a toga. Moonlighting set in Flavian Rome. Engaging characters, excruciatingly correct history, hilarious wit, and the best romantic sparring since Dave and Maddie ran a detective agency on prime-time TV.

1. Rhinegold, by Stephen Grundy.

The Nibelungenlied / Volsunga Saga in English. If you don't like this stuff, it's bleak and depressing. If you do, it's absofrickinglutely magnificently done.


Paul said...

Have you read the SPQR novels by John Maddox Roberts? If you enjoyed The Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, you might like them. The main character is an amateur investigator in late Republican Rome, the time of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar. And thanks for the heads up about the Falco novels, I'll have to read them.

Mr. Bruce said...

Interesting suggestions--I'm off to the local library!

Anonymous said...

Try Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. The main character is also an investigator in Republican Rome, called Gordianus the Finder. Great series, but be sure to read the books in proper order ;)
If you're more into ancient Republic of Rome then read Masters of Rome series (6 books) by Colleen McCullough. It's just great.