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Please help!!! Best Epic Historical Fiction You've EVER read!!!


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Posted on Jul 15, 2009 11:19:30 AM PDT
I recommend Morgan Llywelyn and Jean Plaidy. Both authors do extensive research for their novels and include their sources in the back of the book. From Llywelyn, I loved Lion of Ireland and Druids. If you are interested in British royalty, Jean Plaidy has a number of series related to various families.

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 11:27:30 AM PDT
B. Wendell says:
I'm surprised no one mentioned Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle yet. It's three hefty historical fiction books. They follow the lives and situations of a vagabond named Jack, a slave-girl turned countess, Eliza, and the Royal Society of natural philosophers whose exploits are always interesting and sometimes horrifying.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 11:29:22 AM PDT
Brian Dear says:
The Follet books are incredible.. especially world without end. That story is just amazingly crafted.

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 12:19:48 PM PDT
SilverWolf says:
I second the suggestion of Dunnett's Lymond chronicles series -- absolutely fantastic, though quite dense. But for someone who doesn't mind a complicated epic series that requires close reading these 6 novels are a must. They also include one of the best love stories I have ever read, along with all the adventure, history, world travel, word play, and fabulous characters that you could ever want.

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 1:14:58 PM PDT
mjays says:
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - my all-time favorite and many will agree

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 1:50:43 PM PDT
delanolady says:
World without End and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. These are wonderful; two of the best books I have ever read.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 1:55:52 PM PDT
"Into the Wilderness" by Sara Donati is my absolute favorite historical fiction book, period. It is very long (but you won't be able to put it down) and has it all: romance, adventure, history, phenomenal characters and plot.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 2:04:35 PM PDT
Aviva Lynne says:
Exodus by Leon Uris
Hawaii by James Michener
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
Shogun by James Clavell

I reread these at least once a decade.

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 5:46:00 PM PDT
Oona says:
In addition to the Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett also wrote a wonderful series under the collective heading of House of Niccolo. It takes place two generations before the Lymond Chronicles. Her story of Macbeth -- King Hereafter is an epic in one volume as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 7:30:44 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 15, 2009 7:31:53 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 7:33:59 PM PDT
Lori says:
Gray Ghost said:
If you like a long read (460-ish pages?) that goes by too quickly, try Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia by Jessica James. It is the old-fashioned type of historical romance, not at all like the romance genre of today. I saw that it actually passed Gone with the Wind on amazon in June.

I agree with this.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 7:45:57 PM PDT
C. Pleasants says:
It's a really old one, Forever Amber. If you haven't read it I highly suggest this for you romantic historical fiction of the summer. It was very scandalous when it was published. I would love to know if you do read it what you think. It is almost the bible of romantic historical fiction.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 10:01:40 PM PDT
T. Weatherby says:
Thanks to you all!!! I am so excited to check ALL of these out ... I will definately look up Forever Amber ... you have me intrigued.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 4:16:22 AM PDT
Hello Margaret Q. - And I'm glad you reminded me about Jean Auel's Clan Of The Cave Bear (I think she calls the series Earth's Children). I actually liked the 2nd one, Valley Of The Horses, almost as much. After that her work to me is readable, but didn't keep me up until 2 in the morning. The Mammoth Hunters is a love story in good disguise (says me, who writes romances!) The Plains Of Passage and The Shelters Of Stone again are quite readable, but I didn't finish them. Maybe I'm just hard to please.

T. Weatherby - If you like sea adventures and plain adventures - you can't beat the Hornblower series (& other stories like The Gun and Brown On Resolution) by C.S. Forester. And in the same vein there's Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, starting with Master And Commander, and a few standalones like The Unknown Shore. None of them are hugely long but taken together they're certainly epic.

And have you tried the Poldark series by British writer Winston Graham? Unputdownable. Some are longish but again the series is epic - 11 or 12 books if I remember correctly.

You have enough suggestions to keep you going for quite a while! Happy reading.

Monya (aka Mary)
The Pirate And The Puritan

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 4:59:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 16, 2009 5:04:14 AM PDT
I just found this discussion and want to add Last of the Amazons by Steven Pressfield.

About Jean Plaidy: When I taught English literature at the high school level, I read many of the Plaidy series for background knowledge of English kings and queens. My stories kept my seniors entertained for all the years I taught British lit. However, Jean Plaidy, though a wonderful storyteller, is a repetitive writer. Finally, I simply had to stop reading her. But that's just me!

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 7:03:02 AM PDT
MONTGOMERY says:
1) MEMOIRS OF HADRIAN - Marguerite Yourcenar
2) TAI-PAN - James Clavell (set during the period immediately after the Opium Wars when Britain acquired Hong Kong)

3) THE BLACK MOON - Winston Graham
Here is my review of this novel, which I read 5 years ago...

"The Poldark Series continues. The time is February 1794. In the opening pages, the author evokes an image of a sleepy Cornwall in the depths of a harsh and frigid winter. George Warleggan continues to expand his power and influence over the community. His wife Elizabeth (once Ross Poldark's great love) has given birth to a son, Valentine. Her son from her previous marriage to Ross' cousin Francis, Geoffrey Charles, has been given a governess, Morwenna Chynoweth (a cousin of Elizabeth's) to tutor him.

"Two of Demelza's brothers, Sam and Drake Carne, both ardent Methodists, come to Ross and Demelza, seeking a new life for themselves in the community. Ross is not exactly thrilled to have them there. But he gives Sam a job working in one of his mines and Drake assumes a trademan's life. With the coming of the Carnes, Methodism in the community is given a considerable boost, which doesn't sit well with a number of the local notables.

"The novel goes on to describe the ongoing relationship between Caroline and Dr. Dwight Enys, who had gone into the Navy when it seemed impossible that he and Caroline could marry over the objections of Caroline's uncle and guardian, who had deemed Dr. Enys as socially unsuitable for his niece, who soon stood to acquire an inheritance. The ship on which Dwight is serving as a surgeon is involved in a naval battle near the French coast, and most of the ship's survivors, including Dwight, are taken prisoner. When Caroline gets wind of this, she begins, with Ross, a campaign for Dwight's freedom.

"There is also a developing relationship between Morwenna and Drake, which creates further conflict between the Poldarks and the Warleggans.

"Again, as in the other novels of the Poldark Series, this is a novel that never falters. Besides the principal characters, there are also a number of minor characters who further enliven and enrich the drama. This is some of the best historical fiction you'll ever find.

"So, take a seat by the window of your favorite room or stay in bed one holiday or weekend morning and enjoy what is a richly textured, well-told story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 8:13:29 AM PDT
Have you heard of a book titled "A World Of His Own - In The Land Of The Creoles"? This book might just fill you desire. You can read the wonderful reviews this book has received on www.Amazon.com, also on www.barnesandnoble.com. This book is an historical novel with an unsual love story and rich in the history of New Orleans back in 1809. Those who have read it said once they started reading they couldn't put it down.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 8:39:32 AM PDT
M. Hallee says:
If you have never read it Gone with the Wind is an all time favorite that fits all of these characteristics. The book is far better than the movie and boy do the sparks fly between Scarlett and Rhett. Scarlett is not so insipid as in the movie - this book is actually a pulitzer prize winning piece of historical fiction and is just fantastic.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 8:54:34 AM PDT
billmelater says:
I so agree...GWTW is much better than the movie. Sprawling epic with fascinating characters. When Mellie says "We'll tell our children to remember, and they'll tell their children, and their children" (paraphrasing!) it really chilled me. That, to me, explains Dixie even now. You might want to also consider "March" by Geraldine Brooks. It could stand side-by-side with GWTW. Wonderful book.

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 9:11:31 AM PDT
Cnola. says:
The Reckoning
by Sharon Kay Penman. I pretty much have enjoyed all her novels.

London: The Novel
by Edward Rutherfurd. It can be hard to follow at times. The story takes place over centuries.

Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome
by Steven Saylor. Very educational. I read it after the HBO series ROME ended.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 9:53:33 AM PDT
L. Weber says:
The Searchers by Alan lemay

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 4:54:12 PM PDT
Jan L. Webb says:
I would also recommend Dorothy Dunnett's series The House of Nicolo. They are my favorite books and I read a lot!

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 7:58:53 PM PDT
Two of my all time favorites that I didn't see mentioned yet:
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

Was thrilled to see these back in print because for years I would have to stop at any second-hand bookshop I saw to see if they had a copy that was not tattered.

Hope you find just what you're looking for too!

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 8:28:24 PM PDT
Centennial and Chesapeake by James Michener are very satisfying reads.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2009 9:13:46 PM PDT
T. Weatherby says:
Thanks! I will check it out!!! I am soooooooo excited you all have made my vacation complete ... I hope one day I can return the favor ... I will let you all know how I liked them. Happy Reading! :)
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
Participants:  310
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Initial post:  Jul 14, 2009
Latest post:  Jan 29, 2014

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