Let's Talk Books

Let’s Get Historical Together

Today’s Tuesday and normally I’d be doing the Tuesday Top 5 but as the topic—books I really want to re-read—isn’t relevant, as there are no books I’m that desperate to reread. I’m going to wax lyrically about historical novels I’ve read and loved. You know, just to be different.

I know some of you don’t read historical novels and, yes, there was a time when I would have said the same. Then I got bored. And did something about it. I started reading any genre that took my fancy. Any book whose cover grabbed my attention. And, lo and behold, I discovered a whole series of genre I’d never read before, that I liked. Liked a lot. Because, you know, they had great stories, well defined characters, and said something different i.e., there were no space ships!

Moral of this rambling post, take chances, read outside your comfort zone and preferred genre, you’ll be surprised.

Regulars to this site will already have seen some of the titles I might have suggested—Salt To The Sea / The Phantom Tree / The Reckoning / The Locksmith’s Daughter to name a handful, all seriously good reads.

Here are a couple of titles I’ve read, loved, though haven’t reviewed here, that maybe you might want to check out:

  • THE BONES OF AVALON by Phil Rickman (Dr. John Dee #1) — It is 1560, and Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year. Dr John Dee, at 32 already acclaimed throughout Europe, is her astrologer and consultant in the hidden arts… a controversial appointment in these days of superstition and religious strife. Now the mild, bookish Dee has been sent to Glastonbury to find the missing bones of King Arthur, whose legacy was always so important to the Tudor line. With him—hardly the safest companion—is his friend and former student, Robert Dudley, a risk-taker, a wild card… and possibly the Queen’s secret lover. The mission takes Dee to the tangled roots of English magic, into unexpected violence, necromantic darkness, the breathless stirring of first love… and the cold heart of a complex plot against Elizabeth.
  • THE HERESY OF DR. DEE by Phil Rickman (Dr. John Dee #2) — All talk is of the End-time…and the dead are rising. At the end of the sunless summer of 1560, black rumour shrouds the death of the one woman who stands between Lord Robert Dudley and marriage to the young Queen Elizabeth. Did Dudley’s wife, Amy, die from an accidental fall in a deserted house, or was it a calculated murder? Even Dr John Dee, astrologer royal, adviser on the Hidden and one of Dudley’s oldest friends, is uncertain.

I really enjoy how the author threw these two real-life historical figures together, and sent them off on two of the most unlikely adventures going, and yet, made them both seem really plausible. Not only that, we get a lot of myth and legend woven into these two stories, amid the fiction is also a wealth of fact, that Rickman then offers up his own thoughts on, via his characters own musings.

Two very enjoyable historical romps featuring two very fascinating and enigmatic characters from Elizabethan England. Myth, murder, mayhem and mystery, what more could you ask for?

6 Comments

  1. This is one i haven’t seen before. I read a few historical fiction every now and then, but i wasn’t actually looking for them 😀 I really like what Wilbur Smith writes, and read quite a few of his Courtney books. They are quite adventurous.

    • I kind of stumbled across these at, of all places, a flea market. And really enjoyed reading them.

      Oh, and Wilbur Smith was well read in our house, I really enjoyed the African settings.

  2. I love historical novels, especially those of Philippa Gregory and Anya Seton. The Virgin’s Lover (by Philippa Gregory) is also based around the love triangle of Elizabeth I and Robert and Amy Dudley. I hadn’t heard of this author though, and the King Arthur connection definitely gets my attention!

    • Alexandra says

      I’ve found I really enjoy a good historical whodunnit, Nicola, and anything set in and around Elizabeth’s time is a go-to for me. I just love that era, the intrigue and politics. Endlessly fascinating.

      I hope you give Rickman a try.

  3. I’m just starting to enjoy reading historical novels and for the moment I’m quite happy with the Victorian era that I discovered. But I take your suggestions in account for when I’m reading for a larger exploration in time. Thanks for the info!

    • Alexandra says

      Oh, I love the Victorian era too, Inge. There are so many really good historical writers out there too, right now, whatever era you aim for. Throw in a bit of romance, and make it a whodunnit, and I’m there! 😀

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