bookish posts

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for people who haven’t read historical fantasy

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

Historical fantasy, a cross-over genre of historical fiction and fantasy, is one of my favorites! It’s such a diverse genre, with so many different time periods and ways to approach the idea. Here are some of my favorites.

If you tend to like historical fiction:
sorcery and cecelia1. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: An epistolary novel set in Regency England. This one is basically Georgette Heyer with magic, and it is awesome.

lav2. Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin: Lavinia retells the story of the Aeneid from the point of view of Aeneas’s second wife. It gives her a voice and brings her to life in a marvelous way.

bloodline rising3. Bloodline and Bloodline Rising by Katy Moran: Set in Constantinople and Britain, this duology tells the story of a father and son. Lots of historical details, plus a great main character and a nice exploration of family.

seraphina4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: Late medieval/early Renaissance Europe with dragons! And music! And houppelandes! Plus, a wonderful main character, a quiet romance, and lots of political tension. I am a fan, and you should be too.

perilous gard5. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope: This is one of the first historical fantasy books I ever read, and it’s still one of my favorites. An Elizabethan retelling of Tam Lin, with gorgeous writing. Kate and Christopher are some of my favorite characters of all time, and you should really just read it now.

If you tend to like fantasy:
Foundling6. The Factotum Trilogy by D.M. Cornish: Cornish’s Lamplighter/Monster Blood Tattoo/Factotum books are great. Set in a world that looks a bit like the Baroque era, this is a lush, sweeping story with a wealth of worldbuilding details and a unique coming of age story.

stolen magic7. Kat, Incorrigible and its sequels by Stephanie Burgis: If you like Sorcery and Cecelia, this is probably right up your alley. Kat and her sisters must contend with a magical legacy, a Stepmama, and villainous magicians. Rollicking fun, but with an unexpectedly serious heart.

jonathan strange8. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: If the idea of systems of magic makes you geek out a little bit, this is a good book for you. Also, it’s one of the best books for catching the flavor of a certain type of magic. And bonus points for one of my favorite endings ever.

peculiar9. The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann: Bachmann does a wonderful job creating this magical and convincing world, and he has a lovely sense of voice as well. This is a lovely and impressive debut.

TheThief10. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner: These are more loosely based on historical fact, but I’m putting them on this list anyway. Set in a Byzantineish world, they’re the story of Gen the Thief, and they only get better as the series goes on.

paladin11. The Curse of Chalion and its sequels by Lois McMaster Bujold: I couldn’t resist adding these. The first especially is one of Bujold’s best books, in my opinion, and its setting (based on late medieval/Renaissance Spain) is wonderful.

You can also check out this YA-centric guide from Stacked.

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.

7 replies on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books for people who haven’t read historical fantasy”

Love everything about this list! It has five favorites plus others I like lots. And I love how you and I did completely different genre topics and still managed to have two books in common. 🙂

Oh man such great suggestions here!! I made a few recommendations on my list that you might like as well — have you read The Goblin Emperor or Guy Gavriel Kay? They both have a historical feel to them and I adore them. Goblin Emperor is more steampunk, but Kay is more actually historical feeling with just a touch of magic. My favorites.

I also really love The Thief and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. So good!! Great recommendations!

Yes, and I love both! Kay isn’t always my absolute favorite writer, so I didn’t put him on this list. And The Goblin Emperor is SO GOOD. I’ve been pushing it on all my friends. Thanks for the comment!

I hated the only one of these I read (Jonathan Strange) but I love Ursula K. LeGuin – so I have “Lavinia” on my radar. Actually, I should put all three of your HF recommendations on my radar, probably.

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