Historical fiction is one of the fastest growing genres in books, and with any genre there are lots of sub-categories. From sweeping romantic tales to alternate history, literary novels to spy stories. One category that has stood out are those thrilling historical novels. Fast paced with adventure and action but also great plot and well developed characters that make it hard to put the book down. If you are looking for your next thrilling historical read, you’ve come to the right place.
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
Behind every great ruler lies a betrayal. Eva Stachniak’s novel sweeps readers into the passionate, intimate, and treacherous world of Catherine the Great, revealing Russia’s greatest matriarch from her earliest days in court, where the most valuable currency was the secrets of nobility and the most dangerous weapon to wield was ambition.
The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia
The Best of Men brings to vibrant, realistic, and bawdy life the battlefields, taverns, and aristocratic bedrooms of the 17th century. Laurence Beaumont is an unforgettable character, and Claire Letemendia is a dazzling storyteller.
Sacrilege by SJ Parris
London, summer of 1584: Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordano Bruno suspects he is being followed by an old enemy. He is shocked to discover that his pursuer is in fact Sophia Underhill, a young woman with whom he was once in love. When Bruno learns that Sophia has been accused of murdering her husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury, he agrees to do anything he can to help clear her name.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.
A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
England’s Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane’s younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again.
The Licence of War by Claire Letemendia
This novel blends history and fiction in a seventeenth century alive with intrigue, passion, violence, and wit, from the embattled court of King Charles I at Oxford where poisonous rivalries fester, to stately country estates and the colourful underworld of thieves and whores.
The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich
An adventurous, opulent and deliciously exciting read, peopled with fascinating, unforgettable characters, a court eunuch; the calculating sultan’s mother-in-law; the beguiling harem ladies; and a very mysterious young beauty from Venice who shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, causing much havoc.
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
We are in Oxford in the 1660s – a time, and place, of great intellectual, scientific, religious and political ferment. Robert Grove, a fellow of New College is found dead in suspicious circumstances. A young woman is accused of his murder. An Instance of the Fingerpost is a magnificent tour de force: an utterly compelling historical mystery story with a plot that twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until the very last page.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.