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Customer Discussions > Historical Fiction forum

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

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Showing 126-150 of 533 posts in this discussion
Posted on Jul 24, 2009 11:07:02 AM PDT
L78 says:
Some good epics are:

Forever Amber (Winsor)
Katherine (Anya Seton)
The Welsh Trilogy (Sharon Kay Penman). (The books are Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow, and the Reckoning)
Pillars of the Earth (Follet)
World Without End (Follet)
The Physician (Noah Gordon)
Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon)
Through a Glass Darkly

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2009 4:20:25 PM PDT
Leigh Long says:
Bernard Cornwell has a series on the Civil War called the Starbuck Chronicles - there are 4 books in all and I keep hoping he will do another but it hasn't happened yet. The series in order is Rebel, Copperhead, Battle Flag and Bloody Ground. These are not romance but gritty and realistic and follow Nathaniel Starbuck and various members of his family through the Civil war. Cornwell is always a great read!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2009 4:46:06 PM PDT
sansu says:
I tried to read Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and found them unfathomable, truly god-awful. My opposing advice to to avoid them at all costs. Sergeanne Golon's Angelique series are fantastic, way more literature than bodice-ripper. They are out of print and hard to find. As a kid I loved Jean Plaidy, but as an adult I find them too juvenile. Try Anya Seton.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2009 6:13:30 PM PDT
strega2 says:
A.McGrath mentioned Stuart Cloete. Cloete's gripping epic of the Boer War, "Rags of Glory" is a terrific read. It has been compared very favorably to "Gone With The Wind." Richly painted canvas of Late Victorian England (and its dark underside), the Boers of South Africa, and especially the first concentration camps that were such a harsh part of this war.

Posted on Jul 25, 2009 6:18:41 PM PDT
strega2 says:
For those who love epic fiction about the ancient world. Mika Waltari's books are well worth a look. Some areout of print, but you can find used copies:

The Egyptian
The Etruscan
The Roman

He is somewhat misogynistic (his women characters are either greedy and corrupt, or so saintly you could gag), but really delivers on epic fiction that takes his heroes on long journeys around the ancient world.

Posted on Jul 25, 2009 6:48:22 PM PDT
I don't have the patience to read through all these other suggestions, so I apologize in advance if anyone has already recommended this book, but you really, desperately NEED to read Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen if you haven't already. It would just be a travesty if you didn't.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2009 8:24:27 PM PDT
T. Weatherby says:
Thanks for the suggestion ... I agree ... I'm in the process of reading the 2nd one now!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2009 7:58:08 PM PDT
Bettina Hall says:
Can't top War and Peace.

Posted on Jul 30, 2009 7:31:56 AM PDT
Pocoloco says:
The best historical fiction ever written would include the novels of Kenneth Roberts and Samuel Shellabarger and the early novels of John Masters.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2009 8:00:02 AM PDT
Don't forget "War and Remembrance", if you read "Winds of War"; you'd be cheating yourself out of what happens to all the characters from "Winds of War"....again, Herman Wouk. Addictive reading!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 9:51:32 AM PDT
JW says:
Edna Ferber has not yet been mentioned. She has written great American Dynasy books such as Giant, Ice Palace and many other great books as well. Also for WWI book, there is always Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Several have recommended Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It was a great read! The second book World Without End is historically as rewarding as Pillars ot the Earth, however the story itself, which should have been just as wonderful, seemed pushed into a formula. By the end of the book I was just plain irritated with the author.

If you enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, you would probably like Cathederal of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones, translated from a best selling Spanish novel. It really is not fair to compare the two however, they are both lengthy books which follow the lives of people during Medieval times and center around the building of a cathederal. The backdrop for Cathederal of the Sea is 14th century Barcelona and the building of the Santa Maria de la Mar cathederal and is rich in history and characters. I highly recommend this book.

L. L. McKenna - Agree; by far the finest WWII books are War and Rememberance and Winds of War...hands down! The scope and depth of these two books is breathtaking. There is something for everyone in these books.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 4:18:19 PM PDT
Sansu - I feel almost guilty about the difficulty I have had with Dunnett's Game of Kings. Have started it 6 times and can't get past chapter 1. I'm going to try one last time this weekend, but I hold little hope of success.

For historical epics, I'm a fan of Jean Auel's Earth Children Series, John Jakes North and South trilogy, and the Outlander series.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 8:34:43 PM PDT
Hi Stacey - and everyone -
Don't know if it's okay to suggest my own book, but it's newly released, a Civil War epic with America's favorite family - the Cartwrights. It's got all kinds of romance, too, and even a little supernatural thrown in with Lincoln, slavery and Mark Twain. Check it out here at Amazon. I wrote it while working on a major Civil War nonfiction, which I'm getting ready for a publisher.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 8:38:10 PM PDT
War and Peace is definitely on my list!

Posted on Aug 29, 2009 8:16:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 29, 2009 8:29:57 AM PDT
Amongst so many you might well have missed its listing by Helen so allow me to emphasize again the magnificence of "A Rage Against Heaven" by Fred Mustard Stewart. Don't be put off by the sparse (but glowing) reviews on amazon, GWTW pales against this Civil War epic. It was the first book that I recommended on the forum, Bar None the very best historical novels ....that I initiated two years ago and have had several thank you e-mails regarding the recommendation. Trust Helen, trust me, it is a masterpiece.


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2009 8:38:49 AM PDT
Library Lady says:
The Help by Kaghryn Stockett. Not sure if you consider it historical fiction. It takes place in the early 60s in Jackson, Mississippi.

Posted on Aug 29, 2009 7:10:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 29, 2009 7:11:58 PM PDT
Scotsqueen says:
Without a doubt, Sharon Kay Penman is my personal favorite; I'm thrilled to see several other people who share my opinion!

The Sunne in Splendour (Richard III and Wars of the Roses)
Here Be Dragons; Falls the Shadow; The Reckoning (Welsh trilogy)
When Christ and His Saints Slept; Time and Chance; Devil's Brood (Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine; I believe she is writing a fourth book in this series about Richard the Lionheart)

A hearty second to the person who mentioned Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver; The Confusion; The System of the World): I just finished this and really enjoyed it. Not "pure" historical fiction but also the history of science; finance; politics; alchemy and metallurgy; pirates and sailing; a little bit of everything. Whenever a topic interests Neal, he goes off on a tangent to explain it. Very long but fascinating! Also worth reading is Cryptonomicon, which has WWII and present-day storylines with characters who are related to each other and to the characters in the Baroque Cycle.

Posted on Aug 29, 2009 8:16:07 PM PDT
My vote for best historical fiction epic (that I have read) goes to the Wilhelm Moberg series of 4 books dealing with Scandanavian immigrants to the USA: The Emigrants; Into a Good Land; The Settlers; The Last Letter Home.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2009 9:29:48 PM PDT
For Victorian period, any of Louis Bayard, in particular, Mr. Timothy. In addition to great plotting, he has an amazing voice.

The very best American Western historical novel of all time - Little Big Man.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2009 7:47:59 PM PDT
Donna says:
"The Help by Kaghryn Stockett. Not sure if you consider it historical fiction. It takes place in the early 60s in Jackson, Mississippi."

A beautiful book - I think it fits into the hf category.

Posted on Aug 31, 2009 7:49:09 PM PDT
Edward Ruthrford's books. I have read and plan to reread "London", I also read "Sarum" and "Russya". Takes you through such a long time, with family lines branching out and combining through the centuries, that there is a families tree in the front of the books to help, somewhat, in keeping the family lines straight.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2009 8:53:48 PM PDT
I was just going to recommend Katherine. I don't know anyone else who read it, and I'm thrilled to find a fellow fan. I am an English teacher now, but I read it at least 35 years ago when I was an undergraduate who was just falling in love with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the whole concept of courtly love. I'm going to look for The Winthrop Woman, but do you have any other recommendations? I read Pillars of the Earth (Great!)and the sequel (very good), and a wonderful young people's book called "Good Masters, Sweet Ladies" (Don't miss this one)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2009 8:55:47 PM PDT
I loved James Michener's books--too bad there won't be any more.

Posted on Sep 11, 2009 7:19:31 AM PDT
Joseph Boyden's "Three Day Road" - of this literary magic is made, just check out the glowing reviews on amazon. A totally whoa of a book !


Posted on Sep 11, 2009 6:56:09 PM PDT
A. Yoakum says:
I just finished the first few of the Morland Dynasty. There are 32 books in the series and I was pleasantly surprised. The books start in the 1400's and continue though WW1. Each book is a different generation of the same family. If you like to get caught up in epics and on-going story lines, this is the series for you. The Founding is the first book.
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
Participants:  310
Total posts:  533
Initial post:  Jul 14, 2009
Latest post:  Jan 29, 2014

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