The Best Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is everywhere on television and film (the monumental success of Downton Abbey and Peaky Blinders in the UK are just two examples). Yet the wealth of historical fiction in literature is often overlooked.

So this month I decided to recommend three of my favourite historical fiction novels. If you enjoy the genre then give the below books a try. You won’t be disappointed.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

True History of the Kelly Gang tells the story of the infamous Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly, in his own words. A thief and murderer to the authorities that pursued him. Adored as an Australian Robin Hood by his own people. Ned Kelly defied the English who tried to control their lives.

Peter Carey brings this famous bushranger to life in a way that is exciting and compelling. The voice in this novel is superb and unlike any I have read before (the language used is that of a semi-literate person – as Ned was himself).

Although only loosely based on the real life of Ned Kelly and his gang – if you’re after an accurate biography you’ll be disappointed – this fantastic novel is part Australian Wild-West, part thriller, part drama. Fun from start to finish.

Wolf of the Plains (Book 1 of the Conqueror Series) by Conn Iggulden

A gripping novel based on the early life of Temujin Borjigin (known to the world as Ghengis Khan). Ghengis was warrior and Emperor of the Mongol Empire during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (the second largest empire in human history).

Temujin is only eleven when his father – Khan of the Wolves tribe – is murdered. Thrown out of the tribe and left alone to die on the plains with his siblings, Temujin must survive the harshest elements to keep his family safe, gain revenge and become leader of all the tribes.

This is an entertaining book that at times rivals Tolkien in it’s descriptive majesty. And if you like Wolf of the Plains you will be pleased to know there are four more books in the Conqueror Series which continues the tale of Ghengis and his descendants.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong truly deserves its widespread acclaim. It is a romance set amidst the brutality of the First World War and its lasting aftermath.

The story follows protagonist, Stephen Wraysford, from his exhilarating love affair in France 1910 through his experiences as a soldier in the trenches (and in the tunnels under them) during the First World War.

Sebastian Faulks shows us the horrors and trauma of the First World War with an unapologetic realism that few others have ever achieved. The book is both beautiful and harrowing, contrasting the joy of love with the futility of war.

It is a book that should be required reading for younger generations (especially with Remembrance Day around the corner). It is a must for your reading list.

Delve into the Past

So there you have it! Three great historical fiction novels for you to enjoy during the long nights of winter. You can click the headings above if you’d like to buy the books from Waterstones.

Check out my home page for more of my book recommendations (including comedy, dystopian, horror and more). CLICK HERE

Happy reading.


(Image by Roman Grac, courtesy of Pixabay)