This is salvaged from an ages old forum post. Reading and history are a couple of my main hobbies, so I naturally have an interest in books that talk about history. This is a list of books that are at least generally pretty good that deal with history.

Sumeria: (sorta)

Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove

A fun look at how humans get out from under the thumbs of their patron gods in a mesopotamia-ish setting.

Second Intermediate Period Egypt

The Shepherd Kings by Judith Tarr

A novel of the fall of the Hyksos, with horse-worshiping thrown in.

Ancient Greece

The King Must Die by Mary Renault
The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault

While Mary Renault’s other books haven’t done much for me, this pair on Theseus really caught at my imagination.

New Kingdom Egypt

King and Goddess by Judith Tarr
Lord of Two Lands by Judith Tarr

Judith Tarr’s fascination with Ancient Egypt shows with four novels (including the Akenaten-as-Moses Pillar of Fire) covering different parts of its history. She has a good grasp of the culture, and more difficultly, the religion, which shapes these two wonderfully.

Roman Republic

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough
The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough
Fortune’s Favorites by Colleen McCullogh
Ceasar’s Women by Colleen McCullough
Ceasar by Colleen McCullogh
The October Horse by Colleen McCullogh

The first book in the series is by far the strongest, being meant to stand on its own, and having a much more solid plot thereby. They are certainly good (as nearly everything here is) at getting the feel of the time and place through. Coming in second is the final book, which covers from the siege of Alexandria to the first stage of the civil war following Caesar’s assassination.

Roman Empire

I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Claudius the God by Robert Graves

‘Nuff said.

Island of Ghosts by Gillian Bradshaw

An extremely well-written tale of Sarmartian troops who have been pressed into Roman service in Britannia.

The Shadow of Arrarat by Thomas Harlan
The Gate of Fire by Thomas Harlan
The Storm of Heaven by Thomas Harlan
The Dark Lord by Thomas Harlan

An alternate-history fantasy set in the early 7th century where the Western Empire has survived through the power of an ‘Oath’ that keeps change from happening. As a whole these are the weakest books here, but the first book is the best and worthwhile just for worldbuilding ideas, with a well-written large battle towards the end.


Sheba by Walter S. Crane IV

A well-told fantasy story in three graphic novels of what happens to the gods when the human world moves on, set during the Muslim conquest of Egypt.

The Eagle’s Daughter by Judith Tarr

I’m surprised how often Judith Tarr gets overlooked. She’s (one of) the finest historical novelists currently writing. This one deals with Otto I-III and the birth of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Norman Conquest

Sherwood by Parke Godwin

A very well done Robin Hood story set against the Norman Conquest of England, instead of the more typical John/Richard era (a habit started by Ivanhoe).

The Crusades

A Wind in Cairo by Judith Tarr

A fun historical-fantasy set in Egypt right after Saladin takes control.

Alamut by Judith Tarr
The Dagger and the Cross by Judith Tarr

A pair of well-written historical-fantasies. The first one deals with Saladin when he tried to take on the Assasins, and the second deals with the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The Isle of Glass by Judith Tarr
The Golden Horn by Judith Tarr
The Hounds of God by Judith Tarr

A trilogy that the previous pair are a prequel to set at the time of the Fourth Crusade.

Norman England

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Two types of history: the first historical novel.

Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson

The story of Robin Hood (in the more familiar King Richard period) from the viewpoint of Maid Marian

The American Civil War

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

A very good novel of Gettysburg, upon which the movie Gettysburg was based.

World War II

The Proteus Operation by James P. Hogan

A well done WWII time-travel story.