Historical Novels, Proliferation, which is the best series?

B

bokkatankie

Guest
#1
Having read the Flashman, Sharp and Hervey collections over the years I now see on my Amazon recomendation list many new ones.

So I have dipped into Ian Gale (Napoleonic), Patrick Mercer (Crimea) and Adrian Goldsworthy (Napoleonic) but I have become a little disillusioned with the collections, there is a pattern in each that seems to follow the same themes regardless of author. But the characters seem less convincing in each.

So dear ARRSERS of the new batches which collection should I be reading?

Or is it just a case of a range of authors jumping on the bandwagon and Flashman is the only good collection?
 
#2
If you like a bit of a viking saga carry on try Oathsworn by Robert Low. I think that's the trouble with a lot of historical fiction that it ends up in the formula of hardship, war, love and finally victory you just need to change the time period and scatter a few battles around to get it too all fit together.
 
#3
Simon Scarrow's Eagle series about a couple of Roman legionaries is excellent. Conn Iggulden also did a pretty good series on Genghis Khan and the Mongols.
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#4
If you like a bit of a viking saga carry on try Oathsworn by Robert Low. I think that's the trouble with a lot of historical fiction that it ends up in the formula of hardship, war, love and finally victory you just need to change the time period and scatter a few battles around to get it too all fit together.
My historical interest is rooted in Napoleonic to WW1 era, so Vikings or Romans are not my thing!

But I agree with your view of formula, what I am looking for, I suppose, is something a bit different.
 
#5
A little out of your stated period of interest but worth a read arethe Bernie Gunter novels by Philip Kerr, start with the Berlin Noir trilogy and you may well be hooked.

Historically based but not full of battles and Dearing-Do, more of a gum shoe, good cop, fight against tyranny type set form the mid 30's in Germany through occupied Austria to the underground hidden Nazis of the 50's in S America.

Uses the backdrop of the rise of the Nazis to examine the moral dilemmas faced by people trying to survive during this period and the privations they suffered.
 
#6
IMHO the "Warlord Trilogy" by Bernard Cornwell is brilliant. It puts the Arthurian legends into a realistic setting, geographically, historically and militarily. The titles are "A Winter's King", "Enemy of God" and finally "Excaliber".
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#8
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#9
non fiction but a great book is Poor Bloody infantry. A Subaltern on the western front

Amazon.co.uk: poor bloody infantry.
Thanks, that is the sort of book I have already studied, they then allow some historical context to the fiction that I enjoy reading.

What I am looking for is a historical (preferreably Napoleonic to WW1 era) novel series that is genuinely diffferent. I had hopes for the Mercer (Tony Morgan) collection but it is once again all formula and little else, it does avoid the drill manual style of Goldsworthy but the characterization is a bit thin.
 

Soggy4978

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#11
The Simon Fonthill novels by John Wilcox are excellent, although they are quite formulaic. Also, Saul David has written a couple of novels which are really quite readable.
 
#12
Saul David wrote a decent couple of books: Zulu Hart and Hart of Empire about an officer in the Zulu and Second Afghan Wars.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#13
Saul David wrote a decent couple of books: Zulu Hart and Hart of Empire about an officer in the Zulu and Second Afghan Wars.
I saw Saul David speak, and met with him at the Chalke History Festival. Damned nice bloke, and he is a lurker on here.
Good books and he knows his stuff, historically.
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#14
I saw Saul David speak, and met with him at the Chalke History Festival. Damned nice bloke, and he is a lurker on here.
Good books and he knows his stuff, historically.
I have a couple of his non-fiction works so will have a look at his new fiction, thanks.
 
#15
I suppose I'll be the first person in the thread to recommend Patrick O'Brian. Some of the most beautiful writing you'll find in any genre, and characters who will become like dear friends over the years. They really transcend 'mere' fiction for me.

A lot of people say they can't get into them, but so far as I'm concerned they just need to try harder.
 
#16
IMHO the "Warlord Trilogy" by Bernard Cornwell is brilliant. It puts the Arthurian legends into a realistic setting, geographically, historically and militarily. The titles are "A Winter's King", "Enemy of God" and finally "Excaliber".
Excellent trilogy...would have made a brilliant film, much better than the lame "King Arthur" with Knightly and watisname, ( Winstone's "Bors" was good though).
 
#17
Bokkatankie

Strongly recommend the Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian (got turned into the Master & Commander film staring Russel Crowe). With about 15 odd books to get through, it’s a very good Maritime series covering off the Napoleonic period (and slightly before and after).


I really like Cornwell and the Sharpe series, but I think O'Brian is far superior writer, he captures a lot of technical detail about the age of sail, without getting too 'techno' like Clancy. To be fair, none of these are action packed, but the back story of the characters, the clamor for promotion in a patronage system and the way he draws you into the historical setting makes it for me.

Also recommend 'Sword of Honor' by Evelyn Waugh (three novels condensed into one volume). It's World War 2 based and focuses on the experiences of an ageing WW2 officer looking for glory, but instead becoming bogged down in trivia, bs and Army bureaucracy. Again, not loads of action (although there are a good few chapters on the fall of Crete), but seems to be a good account of war time London and the farce of barrack life.
 
T

Tremaine

Guest
#18
Anyone mentioned or read Somerset Maugham? Fits in to 1914-1918, with some stories based on Maugham's experiences with SIS. "Collected Stories" is a good read.
 
#20
Fair point.

What I meant is that it's a bit more subtle than other military based book - certainly not the same extent as chapter after chapter of Sharpe/ a McNab protagonist getting stuck in. Tends to be about 10 - 15% of the O'Brians books are on the sea battles/ fighting.
 
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