Historical Fiction – Medieval Times

Medieval Times
1356: Go With God, But Fight Like the Devil
by Bernard Cornwell

Leading his ruthless band of mercenaries through the war-ravaged French countryside, Thomas of Hookton — known to both friends and enemies as “Bâtard” — searches for la Malice, the legendary sword of Saint Peter, an artifact supposedly imbued with the power to turn the tide of battle in the favor of whichever side possesses it. Of course, Thomas’ primary loyalty is to himself, so it’s anybody’s guess as to which army will prevail when English, French, and Scottish troops converge on Poitiers for what will become a pivotal battle in the Hundred Years’ War. Fans of the author’s Grail Quest series will enjoy the hunt for a sacred relic as well as the meticulously researched and action-packed battle scenes that propel this novel.

The Iron King
by Maurice Druon; translated by Humphrey Hare

Originally published in France in 1955, this sweeping 1st volume in a seven-book saga about the Hundred Years’ War finally makes its English-language debut. Set in the year 1314, the story takes place during the reign of despotic French King Philip the Fair and focuses on disenfranchised Lord Robert of Artois, whose attempts to reclaim his birthright ignite a conflict that will engulf all of France and destroy a dynasty. Steeped in sex, violence, and political intrigue, this book will captivate readers of sprawling, dramatic, and intricately plotted historical fiction. And fantasy fans take note: in his introduction to the novel, Song of Ice and Fire series author George R.R. Martin callsThe Iron King “the original game of thrones.”

World Without End
by Ken Follett

Two centuries after the events of The Pillars of the Earth, which saw the construction of an elaborate Gothic cathedral in the English town of Kingsbridge, the world is a different place. Although the Church still plays a central role in European life, war and plague have shaken the foundations of society. Beginning on All Hallow’s Day in the year 1327, four children witness an event that will influence their lives, as well as the future of their country. Like its predecessor, World Without End combines a large ensemble cast, multilayered plot, and well-researched historical details to tell a sweeping, dramatic family saga.

Company of Liars: A Novel
by Karen Maitland

In 1348, nine strangers band together for survival as the plague ravages England. Disfigured relic-peddler Camelot leads the group as each member reveals his or her story. Con man Zophiel exhibits (among other dubious marvels) an embalmed mermaid, although Cygnus, who possesses a swan’s wing instead of an arm, is no mere sideshow act. Musician Rodrigo and his apprentice Joffre have been dismissed from their posts, while expectant couple Adela and Osmond flee a community that disapproves of their union. Midwife Pleasance and her albino ward Narigorm round out the cast. Yet as the travelers begin dying, it becomes clear that at least one member of the company harbors a deadly secret. This novel “infuses a Canterbury Tales scenario with the spectral chill of an M. Night Shyamalan ghost story” (Publishers Weekly).

The Time of the Wolf
by James Wilde

In 1062, King Edward of England, childless and ailing, has no heir — prompting William, Duke of Normandy, to stake his claim to the throne. With constant Viking raids destabilizing the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the only man standing in the conqueror’s way is Hereward of Mercia, a ruthless Saxon warrior known as “the Devil of the Fens.” Inspired by the exploits of a real 11th-century warrior of the same name, this novel is the 1st in the Hereward series, followed by The Winter Warrior. Its courageous hero, gritty, richly detailed depiction of medieval England, and visceral violence may appeal to fans of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon stories.

List created 12/29/15 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

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