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Historical Fantasies: Elizabethan/Baroque/Georgian

Historical fantasy is one of my favorite subgenres, an awesome melting pot of historical fiction and fantasy. I even have a separate page listing the ones I’ve read! This feature will run for a few months, showcasing the major time periods I’ve read in. Goal: have a spiffy, updated page by the end!

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (Tudor England; YA; read this book right now!)
Foundling, Lamplighter and Factotum by D.M. Cornish (Baroque; middle grade; highly recommended)
The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson (Elizabethan; middle grade; recommended)
Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (vaguely Georgian; adult; highly recommended)
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby (Colonial America; middle grade; recommended)
The Element of Fire by Martha Wells (vaguely Elizabethan/Baroque; adult; highly recommended)
Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle (Elizabethan; adult; very much not my favorite)
Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson (Colonial America; adult; not recommended)
The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe, and The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski (Baroque Bohemia; middle grade; highly recommended)
The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner (Revolutionary France; YA; not my favorites)
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner (Cromwell’s England; middle grade; recommended)
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope (Revolutionary America; YA; highly recommended)

Are there titles I’m missing? I feel like there should be more in this period, but I’m not sure if I haven’t read them or if they don’t exist.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

8 replies on “Historical Fantasies: Elizabethan/Baroque/Georgian”

Oh, the Foundling Trilogy is Baroque? Thank you for naming it, I had no idea! The magic, monsters and morals seemed so otherworldly. Even with the (now stupidly obvious) clothing and technology, I had the story pegged as straight fantasy with a heavily researched “age of discovery” flavor.

Obviously I need to learn more about that period, because I loved Cabinet of Wonders. Only the certain man of science alerted me to the setting.

Thank you for this list. The Martha Wells seems right for me as I apparently like Baroque but wouldn’t know accurate from fanciful no matter how straightforward.

I would say so–perhaps early Georgian. The two periods tend to slid together a bit in my head (one reason I’ve tended to combine several periods in these posts).

Part of the difficulty–at least for me–is that I’m so Anglo-centric that the terms I know are based on the British Monarchy: Tudor, Elizabethan, Stuart, Regency. What do you call these periods when you’re talking about other European countries? Let alone non-European countries?

I love the Martha Wells, and if you haven’t read any of her other Ile-Rien books, it’s a good place to start.

Oh, it’s definitely a pain to label eras. I was mostly surprised that the Foundling books correspond to any particular era of history at all. When I read them I had no real place in mind. I assumed that the Half-Continent was on a completely different planet (different geology and biology). Finding out there’s more concrete source for that world is great! What was I thinking?

The British dynasties make perfect sense for this list. Countries like England, China, Korea, and Japan have fairly continuous, named dynasties but it’s much harder to separate Bohemia’s past like that. The countries have changed borders and names so often it’s hard to remember where and when everything is.

I’ve been meaning to read something by Martha Wells but had no idea where to begin. The Ile-Rien books sound very interesting. I love series where you can see a place change and grow.

I have a couple of Elizabethan suggestions, but neither of them are exactly historical fantasies, so there you go. One is Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan. It’s a YA mystery, and the first in a series. There is a character who is a seer, so there may be a stronger fantasy element in the book where she is the lead character. The second book comes out in August.

The next one is Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. It’s very definitely fantasy, but it’s a time travel so I don’t know if that counts as historical. It’s the 2nd in a trilogy. The first is modern but the second is almost entirely set in the Elizabethan era. Some in London, some in France, some in Prague.

Oh, I either read or started Maid of Secrets–can’t remember which at the moment. I think I was enjoying it regardless, so I’ll have to make sure I finished.

I’ve heard good things about Shadow of Night but haven’t read it yet. Adding it to the TBR!

Truly the Regency gets more than its fair share!

You might enjoy (she says without 100% conviction) In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker– Elizabethen sci fi time travel.

And if you are ever in the mood for a very gentle children’s book with just a waft of magic, I love The Queen Elizabeth Story, by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Oh, I do like In the Garden of Iden, though it’s so sad–I have to space out the Company books lest I get too down.

I love Rosemary Sutcliff, so I’ll have to try to find that one!

I might suggest my own 17th century fantasy novel, Gideon’s Angel (Solaris Books) about a plot to depose Oliver Cromwell and bring the Devil to the throne of England,and the excellent Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle, set in Elizabethan England (Angry Robot Books)

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