Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Fiction On My TBR


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


| Top Ten… Historical Fiction On My TBR |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! This week I’m taking a look at the historical fiction which has made its way onto my shelves. Ok, so some are more fantasy than history… and some are only by authors who made their name in the historic fiction genre… but they still made it onto my TBR! Take a look and see if any made your list.
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| 1. |

Conclave

by Robert Harrisheart

The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.
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| 2 |

All The Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerrheart

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.
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| 3 |

Dunstan

by Conn Iggulden

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In the year 937, King Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a great spear into the north. His dream of a kingdom of all England will stand or fall on one field and the passage of a single day.

At his side is Dunstan of Glastonbury, full of ambition and wit, perhaps enough to damn his soul. His talents will take him from the villages of Wessex to the royal court, to the hills of Rome – from exile to exaltation.

Through Dunstan’s vision, by his guiding hand, England may come together as one great country – or fall back into anarchy and misrule…

From one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and performer, a visionary, a traitor and confessor to kings – the man who changed the fate of England.heart

| 4. |

Clash of Eagles

by Alan Smale

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In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, a legion under the command of general Gaius Marcellinus invades the newly-discovered North American continent. But Marcellinus and his troops have woefully underestimated the fighting prowess of the Native American inhabitants. When Gaius is caught behind enemy lines and spared, he must reevaluate his allegiances and find a new place in this strange land.
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| 5. |

Rotherweird

by Andrew Caldecott

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The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused.

But secrets have a way of leaking out.

Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town’s long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present, until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time – and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic.

Welcome to Rotherweird!
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| 6. |

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

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Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
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| 7. |

The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy

by H. B. Lyle
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London 1909: The British Empire seems invulnerable. But Captain Vernon Kell, head of counter-intelligence at the War Office, knows better. In Russia, revolution; in Germany, an arms race; in London, the streets are alive with foreign terrorists. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters he needs proof of a threat – and to find that, he needs an agent he can trust. The playing fields of Eton may produce good officers, but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans.

Kell needs Wiggins. Trained as a child by Kell’s old friend Sherlock Holmes – he led a gang of urchin investigators known as the Baker Street Irregulars – Wiggins is an ex-soldier with an expert line in deduction and the cunning of a born street fighter. ‘The best’, says Holmes.

Wiggins turns down the job – he ‘don’t do official’. But when his best friend is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins sees that the role of secret agent could take him towards his sworn revenge.

Tracking the Russian gang, Wiggins meets a mysterious beauty called Bela, who saves his life. Working for Kell, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the munitions factory.
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| 8. |

Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
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Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
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| 9. |

Incendium

by A. D. Swanston
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Summer, 1572 and England is vulnerable. Fear of plague and insurrection taint the air, and heresy, fanaticism and religious unrest seethe beneath the surface of society. Rumour and mistrust lead to imprisonment, torture and sometimes murder. To the young lawyer Christopher Radcliff and his patron and employer, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the prospects for peace are grave – and as Leicester’s chief intelligencer, he is charged with investigating both the rumours of rebellion at home and invasion from abroad.

But Radcliff’s own life is far from orderly. His relationship with the widow Katherine Allingham is somewhat turbulent and the cut-throat world of court politics leaves no room for indiscretions.

That the queen’s own cousin, the Duke of Norfolk, is found guilty of treason, it is a sign of just how deep the dissent goes. Jesuit priests have been sent to England in order to foment revolt but the threat of a Catholic uprising comes not just from within. Across the channel, France is caught up in a frenzy of brutal religious persecution and England’s other enemy of old, Spain, is making preparations to invade. England is a powder-keg, just waiting for a spark to ignite it – and then Christopher Radcliff hears word of a plot that could provide that spark. The word is ‘incendium’ – but what does it mean and who lies behind it? Suddenly Christopher Radcliff is caught up in a race against time…
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| 10. |

Eight Months on Gazzah Street

by Hilary Mantelheart

Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband’s work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom’s areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive, watchful. The streets are not a woman’s territory; confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self begin to dissolve. She hears whispers, sounds of distress from the ’empty’ flat above her head. She has only rumours, no facts to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank — waiting to be filled by violence and disaster.
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What books have you added to your TBR recently? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Settings


Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Historical Settings |

Welcome back to another week’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week I’m looking at my favourite historical settings of both fact and fiction… but seeing as I love so many it’s a very tough call to make! So here is a by no means comprehensive list of some of my favourites!

| 1. |

Venice

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The Serpent

by Claire North

In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone’s expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules . . .

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| 2. |

World War Two

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Home Run: Escape from Nazi Europe

by John Nichol & Tony Rennell

Throughout the Second World War, thousands found themselves cut off behind the lines in Nazi-occupied Europe – soldiers were left stranded on beaches after the chaotic evacuation of Dunkirk, airmen flying operations against the Germans were blasted out of the sky by flak and fighters. They were alone and on the run in enemy territory with just one goal – to get back to Britain and to safety. Some made solitary treks through hundreds of miles of enemy territory, others attempted precarious sea crossings in stolen boats. Many placed their lives in the hands of brave civilians who risked the wrath of a brutal regime if they dared to offer assistance. Life for the evaders hung in the balance and if they were to survive they had to rely on guile and sheer luck. John Nichol and Tony Rennell tell the dramatic story of the heroes who made it home …and those who did not.

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| 3. |

Victorian Britain

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The Somnambulist

by Essie Fox

When seventeen-year old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton’s Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing on stage, she risks the wrath of her mother Maud who marches with the Hallelujah Army, campaigning for all London theatres to close. While there, Phoebe is drawn to a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels who heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women. When offered the position of companion to Nathaniel’s reclusive wife, Phoebe leaves her life in London’s East End for Dinwood Court in Herefordshire — a house that may well be haunted and which holds the darkest of truths. In a gloriously gothic debut, Essie Fox weaves a spellbinding tale of guilt and deception, regret and lost love.

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| 4. |

The Dark Ages

The Owl Killers

by Karen Maitland

England, 1321. The tiny village of Ulewic teeters between survival and destruction, faith and doubt, God and demons. For shadowing the villagers’ lives are men cloaked in masks and secrecy, ruling with violence, intimidation, and terrifying fiery rites: the Owl Masters.

But another force is touching Ulewic—a newly formed community built and served only by women. Called a beguinage, it is a safe harbor of service and faith in defiance of the all-powerful Church.

Behind the walls of this sanctuary, women have gathered from all walks of life: a skilled physician, a towering former prostitute, a cook, a local convert. But life in Ulewic is growing more dangerous with each passing day. The women are the subject of rumours, envy, scorn, and fury…until the daughter of Ulewic’s most powerful man is cast out of her home and accepted into the beguinage—and battle lines are drawn.

Into this drama are swept innocents and conspirators: a parish priest trying to save himself from his own sins…a village teenager, pregnant and terrified…a woman once on the verge of sainthood, now cast out of the Church.…With Ulewic ravaged by flood and disease, and with villagers driven by fear, a secret inside the beguinage will draw the desperate and the depraved—until masks are dropped, faith is tested…and every lie is exposed.heart

| 5. |

The (Almost) Roaring Twenties

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The Axeman’s Jazz

by Ray Celestin

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him…

Though every citizen of the ‘Big Easy’ thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads. But Michael has a grave secret – and if he doesn’t find himself on the right track fast – it could be exposed…

Former detective Luca d’Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protégée, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca finds himself working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as the authorities’.

Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency.Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her trumpet-playing friend, Lewis ‘Louis’ Armstrong, to the case and into terrible danger…

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim. And as the case builds to its crescendo, the sky will darken and a great storm will loom over the city…heart

| 6. |

Tudor England

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Dark Fire

by C.J. Sansom

It is 1540, and Henry VIII has been on the throne for thirty-one years when Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer renowned as “the sharpest hunchback in the courts of England,” is pressed to help a friend’s young niece who is charged with murder.

Despite threats of torture and death by the rack, the girl is inexplicably silent. Shardlake is about to lose her case when he is suddenly granted a reprieve – one that will ensnare him again in the dangerous schemes of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s feared vicar general.

In exchange for two more weeks to investigate the murder, Shardlake accepts Cromwell’s assignment to find a lost cache ofDark Fire, an ancient weapon of mass destruction. Cromwell, out of favor since Henry’s disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, is relying on Shardlake’s discovery to save his position at court, which is rife with conspiracyheart

| 7. |

Restoration England

A Conspiracy of Violence

by Susanna Gregory

The dour days of Cromwell are over. Charles II is well established at White Hall Palace, his mistress at hand in rooms over the Holbein bridge, the heads of some of the regicides on public display. London seethes with new energy, freed from the strictures of the Protectorate, but many of its inhabitants have lost their livelihoods. One is Thomas Chaloner, a reluctant spy for the feared Secretary of State, John Thurloe, and now returned from Holland in desperate need of employment. His erstwhile boss, knowing he has many enemies at court, recommends Thomas to Lord Clarendon, but in return demands that Thomas keep him informed of any plot against him. But what Thomas discovers is that Thurloe had sent another ex-employee to White Hall and he is dead, supposedly murdered by footpads near the Thames. Chaloner volunteers to investigate his killing: instead he is despatched to the Tower to unearth the gold buried by the last Governor. He discovers not treasure, but evidence that greed and self-interest are uppermost in men’s minds whoever is in power, and that his life has no value to either side. heart

| 8. |

The Regency Era

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative — the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.heart

| 9. |

Twentieth Century Asia

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The Painted Veil

by William Somerset Maugham

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane.

When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.

The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.heart

| 10. |

The 1930’s
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Murder on the Orient Express

by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.heart

What are your favourite historical settings? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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