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.
| 1. |
by Robert Harris
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.
| 2 |
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.
| 3 |
by Conn Iggulden
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.
| 4. |
by Alan Smale
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.
| 5. |
by Andrew Caldecott
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.
| 6. |
by Colson Whitehead
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.
The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy
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.
| 8. |
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.
| 9. |
by A. D. Swanston
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…
| 10. |
by Hilary Mantel
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.
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!