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Historical Fiction in a Medieval Setting

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  Quote dlesko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Historical Fiction in a Medieval Setting
    Posted: 10-Nov-2006 at 12:32
Hi guys.  Can you recomend any historical fiction books set in medieval europe?  Thanks!

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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2006 at 13:29
Some books by Jan Guillou and Arthur Conan Doyla fit in this...
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2006 at 15:34
The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Harper is a detective in Byzantium during the arrival of the First Crusade is one of my personal favorites.
 
If you like detectives, there is a lot of good series: Ellis Peters (about Brother Cadfael, England during the Anarchy of Stephen) and Susanna Gregory (about Matthew Bartolomew, a scholar in Cambridge in the thirteenth century, just after the Black Death), or Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor for the Roman empire if you like that as well...
 
Some people I know liked The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Folett a lot, about the building of a cathedral, but I found it too melodramatic and over the top. Still, you might like it...
 
Bernard Cornwell, Harlequin/Vagabond/Heretic is kinda nice, about a longbowman at the beginning of the hundred years war (and the grail, but dont worry it is no DaVincy code)
 
David Liss wrote a couple of books about the sixteenth century in London and Amsterdam, the beginnings of modern economy, fraud with papers and coffeetrade, very good!
 
And there is Rosemary Sutcliff, who wrote an endless amount of extremely good and accurate childrensbooks on times varying from the bronze age to the early middle ages, mainly England, which are still very very much fun to read for grownups... She is one of the main reasons I got interested in history...
 
Hope this helps a bit...Big smile One advice: I find that books which have famous historical characters as their sunject tend to be less good, specifically because writers attempt to make their lives more interesting and dramatic than they were, and so have to bend history considerably to achieve that. The books about 'normal' non-special people are a lot more accurate and I find them a lot better.


Edited by Aelfgifu - 10-Nov-2006 at 15:38

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  Quote TRUREL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 04:31
The White Company and Ivanhoe spring to mind.
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  Quote Joinville Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 11:59
Try Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose".
(I couldn't really recommend his later "Baudolino" though.)
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 13:29
Oh I so love Baudolino, it is absolutely great! The most funny and satiric book ever written about the middle ages. I so love how they keep on making things up and then end up believing in it themselves...brilliant!

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 13:50

If you want, you could try "Mio Cid".

 
Is the real thing. A Middle Age's book that reads like a modern novel.
 
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 14:25
Stephen Lawhead Byzantium (the pilgrimage of Irish monks to bring the Book of Kells to Byzantium ~800AD)
Sharon Kay Penman The Sunne in Splendour (Richard the 3rd and 15th century England)
Maurice Druon Les Rois Maudits series (13th and 14th century France)
the year of the horsetails by R.F. Tapsell (6th century slavs aided by a Saka, defend against steppe invaders)
THE GOLDEN WARRIOR by Hope Muntz (William the Conqueror)
THE WALKING DRUM by Louis L'Amour (an adventurer's story in the early 13th century: from Islamic Spain, to the castles of the Assasins, passing through medieval Paris and the lands of the Pechenegs in modern-day Romania)
Count Belisarius by Robert Graves - early medieval Byzantine history
Kristan Lavrandsdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset (14th century Norway around the Black Plague)
Katherine by Anya Seton (medieval England)
 
These are not in a European setting, but still inthe right period:
Gary Jennings, The Journeyer. (Marco Polo)
Eleanor Cooney and David Altieri - The Court of the Lion; also Deception. Both deal with T'ang China (the An Lu Shan rebellion and Empress Wu Zetian respectively)
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  Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 14:30
"Timeline" of Michael Crichton, from Arizona to medieval France LOL, i like very much.
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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 18:48
The Lance books by Stephen Lawhead are pretty good,its the story of a young lord from the Hebride's who goes on a Crusade with the Norwegian King,Magnus.
Bernard Cornwell's Grail quest are allso really good,the story of Thomas a Longbowman in Edward III Army Big smile,great stuff,especially the battles at Crecy and Nevilles Cross!
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  Quote Melisende Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2006 at 23:24
Stephan Grundy - Rhinegold and Attila's Treasure
 
 
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2006 at 04:14
Chretien of Troyes, he wrote the cycle of the Graal. He is THE most famous medieval writter in France
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  Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2006 at 06:23
Any book(s) by Bernard Cornwell, and if you are interested in early Viking age (late 9'th century) England, specially the triology:
 
The Last Kingdom
The Pale Horseman
The Lords from the North
 
Fictional characters mixed with historical (Alfred the Great, Guthrum, thelred, thelflaed etc.) in historical settings and events.
 
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2006 at 14:18
Northman. Do you know these are any good historically? I have been looking at them, but I have been so disappointed a the historical quality of novels about Medieval Scandinavia before I was afraid to start and get all angry and frustrated... LOL
 
Did anybody else notice this about Bernard Cornwell though:
His hero is always blackhaired and unusually tall and muscular;
His heroine is always blonde and the most beautiful woman in the world, as well as extremely slender and wellbuilt and very young and inexperienced;
the humorous sidekick is a redhaired male;
the villain is sexually frustrated.
 
Once you noticed, it is hard to read his books and not laugh about it...Big smile

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  Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2006 at 15:01
Originally posted by Aelfgifu

Northman. Do you know these are any good historically? I have been looking at them, but I have been so disappointed a the historical quality of novels about Medieval Scandinavia before I was afraid to start and get all angry and frustrated... LOL
 
Did anybody else notice this about Bernard Cornwell though:
His hero is always blackhaired and unusually tall and muscular;
His heroine is always blonde and the most beautiful woman in the world, as well as extremely slender and wellbuilt and very young and inexperienced;
the humorous sidekick is a redhaired male;
the villain is sexually frustrated.
 
Once you noticed, it is hard to read his books and not laugh about it...Big smile
 
I noticed a couple times he took some insignificant liberties ie. in moving the date of a certain battle or adding more info to certain events than the sources can prove, but there is no doubt that he did his research and did it well. 
He is a great storyteller - with a fine understated dramatic style which I like.
He also gives some depth in the understanding of the balance and tolerance between the Saxons and the Vikings which is missing in most books - history books included. 
 
I dont find his characters as stereotypic as you suggest in these books. One of the the heroines was blackhaired  - and of course they were young. They didnt live long in those days so they had to start early.Wink
 
On a second note....
Recently, a danish publisher started a series of books (5 is published by now) with the same theme - fiction in historical settings, also starting in the Viking age.
I gave the first three a chance, but ....  BOOORING!!
It took me ages to come through them, but Cornwells books were hard to put down.
 
 
  
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  Quote Ponce de Leon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2006 at 17:20
I read Baudolino in high school. I thought it was extremely weird. What I remember the most is the tall Ethiopian warriors who just wanted to die in a battle. And actually just threw themeslves onto spears! That to me was very twisted
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2006 at 02:18
Originally posted by Northman

I dont find his characters as stereotypic as you suggest in these books. One of the the heroines was blackhaired  - and of course they were young. They didnt live long in those days so they had to start early.Wink
 
Well, the steriotypes worked for all of the books I read, but perhaps I picked the wrong ones... It is only outward appearances anyway, not character, so it doesn't spoil the story or anything... With young I meant really young. I recall one passage in the grailbooks where the leadperson Thomas concluded that a girl he met was a bit overripe for marriage at seventeen, which seems to me like pushing it a bit. LOL 
 
I think I might give those books a chance, but I will wait till I finished my masters. I'm currently in over my head in Scandinavian-Saxon contacts, so I think I might be overly sensitive on the subject at the moment. I've mad the mistake before. I read 'Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Folett jus after researching Stephens Anarchy and it was a bad experience. I noticed every minor mistake, and it drove me nuts... Like when I read the DaVinci Code right after finishing Eco's Foucoult's Pendulum. Some things just do not combine...ConfusedWink

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  Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2006 at 11:23
Nobody wants a book full of decrepit, weakling men and ugly, obese women anyway.

I read "The Last Kingdom" by Bernard Cromwell, first book in a story about the life of a young Northumbrian lordling who is captured by and grows up with the great Danish army that conquered most of England in the 9th century, before he eventually returns to his Anglo-Saxon origins to fight the Danes.

I has its moments, but I found the whole thing a bit too straightforward and predictable.

Instead of this book, I'd rather recommend everyone to read David Ball's "Sword and the Scimitar", also published as "Ironfire". It deals with the fate of three people, two Maltese siblings and a young French aristocract, whose fates all intertwine with the Ottoman siege of Malta in 1565. Very dramatic, sad, romantic, violent and even erotic at times, everything you can ask for pretty much.
    

Edited by Reginmund - 27-Nov-2006 at 11:27
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  Quote Mosquito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2006 at 11:48
I like "Les Rois Maudits" ("Accursed kings") books by Maurice Druon, nice thing about French history.
I also read with pleasure trilogy of polish author Andrzej Sapkowski : "Narenturm" "Divine Wariors" and "Lux Perpetua". Its settled in Bohemia during hussite wars.
 


Edited by Mosquito - 27-Nov-2006 at 11:50
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  Quote Emperor Barbarossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2006 at 13:26
Mosquito, do you know if they are going to translate Sapkowski's books into English? I am very interested in the Hussites, and there are next to no books in English that are below $50.

Edited by Emperor Barbarossa - 28-Nov-2006 at 13:31

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