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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old February 19th, 2007, 21:19 Thread Starter
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Historical Fiction

It's a genre I haven't read alot of but would like to read more. Some time ago I read Wilbur Smith's 'River God' which was decent enough but the other week after reading 'The last Amazon' I've got a real taste for it.

Can anyone recommend anything decent?

Cheers

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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old February 23rd, 2007, 14:00
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yeah

I've just finished an MA module on the historical novel

Depends what sort of stuff you're into


I'd strongly recommend a work from the 70s called The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell which won the booker prize ... its about Muslim insurrections against the British in India

Its brilliant

Again another 19th century recommendation would be Barry Lyndon which is a historical satire of an Irishman who travels around Europe as a soldier and con-man - Stanley Kubrick made a movie version which I must admit I haven't seen

It's by William Thackeray.... hilarious book

Anyway that's a couple of historical novels I enjoy ...
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old February 26th, 2007, 18:25 Thread Starter
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Thanks for those suggestions red. I'll certainly look those out.

Cheers.

"No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake."- Trocchi
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old February 26th, 2007, 23:21
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I don't know if Swedish writer Per Olof Sundman is available in English but he has sure written some awesome books. Expedition is inspired by Henry Stanley's last expedition to Africa (a kind of ironic look at it). The Flight of an Eagle is about Swedish engineer Solomon August Andree and his two companions who tried to reach the North Pole on a balloon in the end of 19th century and failed. It's one of my all-time favourite books.

In a way he is more of an existential writer than historical one as the meaning of these books transcends the events and times described but the history research is very precise too and the level of realism is excellent.

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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old February 27th, 2007, 20:20 Thread Starter
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Cheers. I'll keep an eye out for those two books. Both books have apparently been translated to English by Mary Sandbach.

"No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake."- Trocchi
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old February 27th, 2007, 20:42
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I enjoy the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. They are written in old-fashioned swashbuckling style, easy to read, adventure stories that are slightly politically incorrect which is refreshing this day and age. Lots of humour but also sound on the historical themes. The covers of the novels are old-fashioned and very collectable. Think the series will become "classic" in years to come. Not high-brow but entertaining.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old February 28th, 2007, 16:29
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Gates of fire.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_of_Fire


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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old March 1st, 2007, 04:53
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Now that "300" comes out on screen everyone will be flocking to Gates of Fire. It's a good read on a transatlantic trip, but doesn't rise to literature. I welcome the book and an epic movie about one of the greatest and defining moments in world history and western civilization. But any work that uses the expression "you come spot!" betrays cheesiness...

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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old March 1st, 2007, 13:19 Thread Starter
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I did plan on getting Gates of Fire having just read Last of the Amazons which I did enjoy. I had no idea that it was being made into a film though.

"No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake."- Trocchi
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old March 1st, 2007, 22:35
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It's not being made into a film. "300" is based on Frank Miller's graphic novelized account of Thermopylae. But it has resurrected interest in the book Gates of Fire, which is a non-graphic novelized account of same battle.

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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old March 2nd, 2007, 01:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giureconsulto
Now that "300" comes out on screen everyone will be flocking to Gates of Fire. It's a good read on a transatlantic trip, but doesn't rise to literature. I welcome the book and an epic movie about one of the greatest and defining moments in world history and western civilization. But any work that uses the expression "you come spot!" betrays cheesiness...

But you gotta admit you were entrailed by the book. Its a very interesting and compelling book. Maybe has flaws like you described, but its top notch. I'm on the end of the book.

I would recommend it to anyone really. Especially someone asking for historical fiction.

btw...300 will be totally different then Gates of Fire ( I know you know, just saying for others). But yeah, people will flock to it(and some to the comic). Despite how epic and awesome 300 looks like, I would have preferred a movie version of the book, instead of Millers stylized 300. I like it too, and the action 300 will be great. But Gates of fire give so much more to the story (Spartan society described to absolute detail), not just the end battle like in 300, it feels like it will be just a shallow look on how they were (or perceived to be).


Other historical fictions to recommend are Conn Igguldens Emperor book series about Caesar, and the first book of his Genghis Khan book series. Also the David Gemmell book Lion of Macedon, Alexander the Great ofcourse. All 3 about the biggiest conqueror's, so it may seem obvious topics. But they are excellent reads. Much better then whatever Valerio Manfredi writes...

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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old March 2nd, 2007, 13:54
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What kind of period are you interested in? There's a lot of history to choose from?

For e.g., if you're interested in the middle - late-middle ages (and who wouldn't be - medieval politics are all about sex, power and war. Fantastic ), Philippa Gregory has written some awesome stuff.

Historical biographies can be a fabulous read, as well - anything by Alison Weir is usually worth checking out, for starters.

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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old March 7th, 2007, 19:18 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the posts which have given me some new ideas for some books to purchase next. I'm not interested in any period in particular but rather just like to learn and enjoy a yarn at the same time wihtout getting too weighed down by what is historically accurate and what is not.

Without having read "Gates of Fire" I agree with what Osman says about Pressfield's detail. "The Last Amazon" was like that and really made you part of the time and see these people from the period. He's an author I will look out for in future.

"No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake."- Trocchi
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old March 14th, 2007, 03:10
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Even if the American Civil War is not your thing, Michael Shaara's 'The Killer Angels' is regarded by many to be the greatest work of Historical Fiction out there.

It is told from the view points of the many of the participants of the Battle of Gettysburg
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old March 14th, 2007, 03:29
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Look at Elie weisel who is simply brilliant.
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post #16 of 38 (permalink) Old March 15th, 2007, 17:46
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The Sunne in Splendour
http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/4...searchsource=0

I really enjoyed reading this book even if I didn't expect to. Set during the War of the Roses, it follows Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III) and is a Yorkist version. Very well written

I also enjoyed Samarkand written by Lebanese journalist Amin Maalouf
http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/4...d/Product.html
and have also read several others of his including Gardens of Light which is about Mani, the founder of Manichaeism which I found really interesting
http://www.play.com/Books/Books/PROD...t/Product.html

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Last edited by Natalya; March 15th, 2007 at 17:58.
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post #17 of 38 (permalink) Old March 15th, 2007, 23:01
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Yo, Nat. You knowing alot about ME history and the Khaliphates and Ummayads and all...can you tell me good historical fictions about them? Wether its Crusade related or not? Would be fun to read from their perspective, and civilization.

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Until the Lion learns to speak, the tale of hunt will be told by the hunter

“I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”-Genghis Khan
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post #18 of 38 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2007, 11:12
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I haven't come across many historic novels set around Umayyad or Abbasid caliphates. I'm sure there are probably loads written in Arabic. Most novels set in Middle East involve the Crusaders/Knights Templer (from a "Western" point of view) and have been written by Dan Brown wannabes (hmmm maybe I should start writing historical novels and fill the niche )

Samarkand (above) is set during the 11th century (Abbasid caliphate) and then skips ahead to the 19th to the Qajar Empire in Iran.

There is a book set during the time of the Prophet (saw) by Iraqi writer Kenan Malik (Malik Kenan) or something. I think it's called the Rock but cannot remember off the top of my head but I have it at home will come back with the details.

The only Muslim perspective historic novel I've read for the Crusades is the Book of Salahadin by Tariq Ali. It's not brilliantly written but is part of his "Islamic Quartet" of historic novels
http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/2...n/Product.html

The others are
Muslim Spain - Shadows of the Pomegrante Tree
End of Ottoman Empire - The Stone Woman
and just released and in hardback
Muslim Sicily - A Sultan in Palermo

I'm currently reading a detective novel set during the rule of Sultan AbdulHamid II (1890s) in Istanbul. It's ok but is imo a little Orientalist (the ideas of lesbianism in the harem etc) and the author sets a romance between a British woman and a Turkish Pasha which all seems a little like a personal fantasy of hers, which is shame because she is an anthropologist and you would think that she could get beyond that. http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/2...l/Product.html

But I'm always on the lookout and will let you know if I come across more

Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
Rumi


All I possess in the presence of death
is pride and fury
Mahmoud Darwish
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post #19 of 38 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2007, 15:20
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Cool, thanks for the tips. It seems like Samarkand seems to be the most interesting one. Though even if the Saladdin one isnt brilliant as you say, it may be better then nothing (how good is his other books you mentionned? the subjects for the books seems great, any good?).

Its better then to read crusade novels about wannabe hacks as you said (I tried and stopped with a couple). Read few excellent ones, but non on the muslim viewpoint.

The cheap writing of that Sultan book you describe is what makes me sceptical on wasting time on trying these kind of books. There are many typically mediocre writers on the genre.

Cool if you find some more, I rather try anything then nothing. Especially interested in the Umayyad Dynasty, and Abd-ar-Rahman family of rulers.

I will fight to the death for my right to fight you to the death. - Stephen Colbert

Until the Lion learns to speak, the tale of hunt will be told by the hunter

“I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”-Genghis Khan
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post #20 of 38 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2007, 17:54
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Tariq Ali isn't a great fictional writer. I enjoyed reading them but they are never going to win any prizes so don't look for anything amazing.

Which are the good crusader books? I love reading historical fiction.

It's going to be difficult to find fiction on the Umayyad or Muslim spain mainly because most writers who will write about the Middle East in English will focus on the crusades or current day situations as they are more relevant and of interest to a western audiance.

Another book I forgot to mention was Map of Love by Adhaf Soueif but it probably is a bit too romance based for you. It seems to be purely romance from the write up but it is interesting in learning more about Egyptian politics at the end of the 19th century and does follow 20th events. Sharif Basha is apparently based on Edward Said who, it is said, Soueif had an affair with.
http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/3...e/Product.html

Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
Rumi


All I possess in the presence of death
is pride and fury
Mahmoud Darwish
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