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Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 15 Oct 2018, 03:04
by Tarsier
My men's book club has read a few duds lately. Luckily, the beer bailed out the evening in each case. We've thought back through our winners and losers. A lot of titles have had fans among the group, but we are finding that good historical fiction seems to be a hit across the board.

Some titles we've liked:

City of Thieves (easily at or near the top of everyone's list)
The Son (one third of the book was awesome - that narrated by Eli McCullough - the rest was good enough to tag along)
11/22/63 (more speculative fiction, but we enjoyed the trip back to the 60s)
Blood Meridian (this was a B-side selection one month, but most of us who read it liked it better than the main selection)
Child of God (also a B-side)
The Brothers Sisters (quirky and probably the weaker title from among this list, but a fun read)
The North Waters (the inaugural selection for our club)
Papillon (maybe less popular than the others, but good discussion)

There are probably some others, but I put these up to give some idea of what we have read and enjoyed to solicit your suggestions. We are open to classics, but trying to find some more contemporary titles to avoid the "I read it in high school/college" obstacle in finding material new to each of us. The group in this forum seemed a good community from which to solicit suggestions.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 15 Oct 2018, 21:13
by Fatmo
Marking this in case anyone has any suggestions. I'd be curious to hear them as well.

I've not read much historical fiction but the little I've read was pretty cool, and can see it being worth trying more. I'm also a history guy so the more historical the better.

I think I've heard of City of Thieves, and have definitely heard of Blood Meridian and Papillon.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 15 Oct 2018, 21:34
by Pootleflump
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. Still one of my favourite books.

Set in 1348, middle ages story of the plague, but really a story of a disparate band of travellers. History, alchemy, magic, human interaction.

She is a compelling story teller.

Great book club book.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 15 Oct 2018, 23:01
by NoPunIn10Did
If you're up for something that's contemporary, challenging, and from a Nobel laureate, then I can recommend My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. It's been compared favorably to Wolf Hall and In the Name of the Rose, mostly because it's a rather multi-layered literary work that uses a murder mystery in a historical setting as the skeleton of the story.

If you're at all interested in alt-history, and you want something that's much lighter fare and generally more fun, I can recommend The Peshawar Lancers by S. M. Stirling.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 15 Oct 2018, 23:01
by Jack007
The Physician by Noah Gordon (1986)

Another one, espec. for Diplomacy players with historical interests (WW1):
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929)

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 16 Oct 2018, 06:44
by UFO Fever
I can't recommend Christopher Moore's Lamb enough.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 16 Oct 2018, 13:24
by Tarsier
First off, great recommendations.

Apologies, but we've read both Lamb and Farewell to Arms. I forgot to mention each in my quick run-down of the historical fiction out of others that we're reading (right now, American Gods) I disliked Lamb quite a bit when I started it, but I was listening to the audio version, and realized I didn't care for the pacing of the narrator. When I switched to the print version, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Fatmo, give City of Thieves a try. You'll thank me later.

Looking forward to looking into the titles in the thread. Keep 'em coming. We'll discuss the list over beers and unhealthy snacks at our November meeting.

I will note that word of our book club has spread locally, and members were getting a little too liberal in inviting others in who would ask about it(we'd prefer to keep our numbers at 6-8). Unfortunately, many weren't reading the book, so we've not broken it into alternating get-togethers. One month is strictly book club - don't come if you haven't read the book. The next month is "book club for guys who don't read", where anyone is invited and we go to a local bar or restaurant. This allows us to read some longer titles and keeps the actual book club meetings fun, but focused.

The Son was probably our best meeting. Good crowd, "authentic" Texas chili, and eight varieties of bourbon. A couple of us can't remember how we got home.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 16 Oct 2018, 17:11
by mat.gopack
The Accursed Kings is a nice series (though I can't speak for the english translations of them) - I don't know if it's past the threshold for historical fiction though, if you want it to be heavier on the 'fiction' side

Name of the Rose is a classic one I enjoyed.

I have heard good things about I, Claudius - it was made into a BBC series afterwards - but haven't read it myself.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 23 Oct 2018, 22:09
by Keirador
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was a fantastic read. It's a novel of manners, pretty directly paying homage to Jane Austen and set in the same time period, except instead of romantic dalliances, the plot largely hinges on the rediscovery of magic and its deployment to further the aims of both individual ambitious magicians as well as the British Empire.

Re: Kick-Ass Historical Fiction Suggestions?

PostPosted: 23 Oct 2018, 22:12
by Keirador
UFO Fever wrote:I can't recommend Christopher Moore's Lamb enough.

The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. That book was a hoot. Maybe more a "B side" that book club material, though.