Historical Fantasies

This is one of my favorite kinds of fantasy, a book which has its roots in some kind of historical event or period. Some of these are very closely depicted (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) while others are much looser (The Thief). Because this is a fairly subjective definition, I’ve left off steampunk and alternate histories, which both seem to me to be different categories. Also, some eras have been assigned based on best guesses–if you know that I’ve made a mistake, please let me know!

Following is a list of historical fantasies I’ve read, by time period, with links to my reviews.

Ancient history
Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett (Egyptian; YA)
King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (Greek; YA)
Alcestis by Katharine Beutner (Greek; adult)
The Oracle Betrayed by Catherine Fisher (Greek/Egyptian; mg)
Black Ships by Jo Graham (Roman; adult)
Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin (Roman; YA/adult; highly recommended)
His Own Good Sword by Amanda McCrina (Roman; YA; excellent)
The King Must Die by Mary Renault (Greek; adult)
Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr (Egyptian; adult; excellent)

Medieval and Renaissance Europe
The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse (Medieval England; middle grade; recommended)
Plain Kate by Erin Bow (Slavic; upper middle grade/YA; very highly recommended)
Hawk of May and Kingdom of Summer by Gillian Bradshaw (Medieval Britain; adult; recommended)
Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (Medieval France; adult; recommended)
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion series, starting with The Curse of Chalion and continuing with Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt (Renaissance Spain; adult; VERY HIGHLY recommended)
Rusalka by C.J. Cherryh (Medieval Rus; adult; not my favorite Cherryh)
Clare Dunkle’s By These Ten Bones (Medieval Scotland; YA; mixed feelings)
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer (Vikings; middle grade; Brandy captures my feelings)
Wise Child by Monica Furlong (Medieval Scotland; middle grade; recommended with reservations)
The Lions of Al Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (Medieval Spain; adult; haven’t finished)
Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay (Byzantine Empire; adult; highy recommended)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Renaissance Europe; YA; highly recommended)
Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell (Renaissance Germany; middle grade; recommended)
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (Medieval/Renaissance Eastern Europe; middle grade; highly recommended)
Castle Behind Horns by Merrie Haskell (Medievial/Renaissance Brittany; middle grade; recommended)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Renaissance Brittany; YA; not my favorite but has lots of fans)
Bloodline Rising by Katy Moran. (Byzantine/British; middle grade; highly recommended)
Gerald Morris’s Squire’s Tale series (Medieval Britain; middle grade; lots and lots of fun)
No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve (Medieval Britain; middle grade; recommended)
When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer (Renaissance Portugal; YA; recommended)
Alamut by Judith Tarr (Medieval Palestine; adult; recommended)
The Queen’s Thief series (Byzantine empire-ish; upper middle grade; one of my favorite series of all time)
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh (Medieval Britain; middle grade; recommended)

Elizabethan/Baroque/Georgian Europe
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)

Regency
The Dido Twite series, by Joan Aiken. Apparently I’ve only reviewed Nightbirds on Nantucket here, though I’ve read the whole series (middle grade; highly recommended)
The Peculiar and The Whatnot by Stefan Bachmann (middle grade; highly recommended)
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (adult; not my favorite)
Kat, Incorrigible, Renegade Magic, and Stolen Magic by Stephanie Burgis (middle grade; highly recommended)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Ladies of Grace Adieu (upper YA/adult; JS&MN is one of my favorite books eeverrrr)
Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Spirit by Kate Elliott (adult; recommended)
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl is a sort of fantasy without fantasy (YA; recommended)
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (adult; not my personal favorites but lots of other people like them!)
Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (adult; loved but haven’t re-read)
Sorcery and Cecelia and its sequels by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (YA; I looove these books, especially the first)
Magic and Malice by Patricia C. Wrede (middle grade; good but not my favorite)
Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stevermer (middle grade; good but not my favorite)

Victorian
The Night Gardener by Jonatha Auxier (England, middle grade; not my thing but others liked)
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley (England, upper mg/YA, highly recommended)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (England, YA, did not enjoy)
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (England, adult, recommended)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (England, adult, not really my thing)
Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (England, YA, liked while reading)
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (England, YA, highly recommended)
Bewitching Season and Courtship and Curses by Marissa Doyle (England, YA, recommended)
Darkwater by Catherine Fisher (England, YA, recommended)
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler (US, YA, highly recommended)
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly (England, adult, loved!)
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber (England, adult, I did not enjoy it)
Constable & Toop by Gareth Jones (England, middle grade, recommended)
The Vespertine and The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell (US, YA, highly recommended)
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (England, middle grade, eh)
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (England, adult/YA crossover, recommended)
Rose and its sequels by Holly Webb (England, middle grade, recommended)
Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells (England, upper mg, recommended if you remember that this is not a YA book)
Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (England, short stories, YA and adult, highly recommended)
The Frontier Trilogy by Patricia Wrede: Across the Great Barrier, The Far West (note that these deal with American Indians in a problematic way) (US, YA, recommended with reservations)
The Monstrumologist series: The Curse of the Wendigo, The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey (US, YA, highly recommended if you don’t mind gore)
Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (US, adult, recommended)
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (England/Indiaish, YA, recommended but note that there’s a bit of a Great White Savior theme going on)

Edwardian (1901-1914)
A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (Europeanish, YA, love it!)
The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip (English-y, adult/upper YA, lovely)
Chime by Franny Billingsley (English, YA, love)
The Boneshaker by Kate Milford (American, middle grade, not my personal favorite)
The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty
Delia’s Shadow by Jamie Lee Moyer (which I haven’t myself read)
Leviathan and sequels by Scott Westerfeld (European; middle grade; lots of fun)

1920s on
Magic Most Deadly by E.L. Bates (England, 1920s, very enjoyable)
The Diviners by Libba Bray (America, 1920s, not my personal favorite)
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (based on Weimar Germany, recommended)
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (England, 1920s, amazing and wonderful!)
Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel (America, 1930s Dust Bowl, recommended)
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (England, 1958, not my personal favorite)
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox (based on New Zealand, 1959, highly recommended)
Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan (Ireland, 1970s, recommended)
Among Others by Jo Walton (UK, 1970s, SO WONDERFUL)

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9 responses to “Historical Fantasies

  1. Pingback: 2013 Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction | By Singing Light

  2. Pingback: Historical Fantasies: Ancient history | By Singing Light

  3. Pingback: Historical Fantasies: Medieval and Renaissance Europe | By Singing Light

  4. Pingback: Historical Fantasies: Elizabethan/Baroque/Georgian | By Singing Light

  5. Pingback: Historical Fantasies: Regency | By Singing Light

  6. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Books for people who haven’t read historical fantasy | By Singing Light

  7. Pingback: Historical Fantasies: Victorian era | By Singing Light

  8. wow what a list. Off it goes on my bookmarks 🙂

  9. Pingback: World of YA Episode 4: Historical fantasy, steampunk, and alternate history | The World of YA

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