Top Ten Historical Fiction Books

Live through the past with our compelling historical fiction books. We have novels ranging from the Roman times to the 1950s and titles from some of the best-known authors in historical fiction, including Philippa Gregory and C. J. Sansom. From courtly tales of kings and queens to gritty stories of soldiers and war, we have something for everyone in the mix so if you can't get enough of times gone by then check out our brilliant historical fiction books.

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1. The Last Tudor

Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is one of the biggest names in historical fiction and in her latest book, she tackles the remarkable story of Lady Jane Grey. After the death of the young Kind Edward VI, her father finds a way to place her next in line for the throne but the king's sister, Mary, is determined to put a stop to this bid for power and has Jane executed following a reign lasting just 9 days. The book then follows her two sisters, Katherine and Mary, and the letters they left one another. This gripping read will bring some of the most and least well-known historical figures to life in enthralling detail.

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2. The Last Hours

Minette Walters

Minette Walters is known for crime novels but this fascinating book sees her first venture into historical fiction. Set in 1348, when the Black Death was sweeping the nation, the novel follows Lady Anne of the Develish estate and a slave called Thaddeus as they try to quarantine their Dorset community. But, as tensions build between the social classes, who will be the first to leave the quarantine and face the plague outside?

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3. C.J. Sansom Collection - 3 Books

C.J. Sansom

The books in this collection are the first 3 instalments in C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series. Set in Tudor England during the Reformation, the first book, Dissolutions, follows lawyer Dr Matthew Shardlake as he investigates the murder of one of Cromwell's commissioners. Shocking and thrilling, you can follow Shardlake through his strange and sinister missions in one of the most pivotal periods of history in 3 bestselling books.

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4. M.C. Beaton: The Six Sisters Collection - 6 Books

M.C. Beaton

M.C. Beaton is better known for her Agatha Raisin mystery novels but in this 6-book collection, her fans are treated to a very different type of story. Set in the Regency period, each novel follows one of the 6 Armitage sisters on their romantic adventures. Minerva joins London society, Annabelle falls in love with Minerva's betrothed, Diana takes to hunting and Frederica decides to run away! Get your chance to become acquainted with historical romance's most exciting family in this brilliant collection.

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5. Eagles of Empire Collection - 5 Books

Simon Scarrow

This thrilling series is set in AD42 and follows Quintus Licinius Cato through his terrifying time in the Roman Army. With his imperial links, Quintus manages to move up through the ranks surprisingly quickly and is forced to prove himself when the army are sent to face the danger and wilderness of early Britain. With 5 exciting books to occupy you, you will become thoroughly engrossed in a mind-blowing part of history.

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6. Pat Barker Collection - 3 Books

Pat Barker

Combining real stories with fiction, these 3 books are focused on casualties in World War I and how they were treated. Bringing together important issues from the time including the class system, politics and attitudes towards those who chose not to fight, these books are eye-opening for all historical and military history fans. Included in the collection is the Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Ghost Road.

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7. The Butcher's Hook

Janet Ellis

Set in Georgian London, this book by former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis is a pacey and thrilling read. After her family pick out a man they think will make a suitable husband for her, Anne Jacob decides to find any way to avoid an arranged marriage. That's when she meets a butcher's apprentice called Fub and starts planning a life with him, whatever the cost might be - even if that cost is deadly.

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8. Child 44

Tom Rob Smith

Set in the Soviet Union at the height of Stalin's time in power, where everyone fears being accused of showing disloyalty to the state, Leo Demidov has to make a difficult choice. Working to create a fair and just society, Leo witnesses an eye-opening interrogation which brings him face-to-face with the reality of the world he's helping to build. When tasked with investigating his own wife, he turns his back on everything he knows, just as a killer starts taking their first victims...

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9. Brooklyn

Colm Toibin

This Costa Novel Award-winning book was recently adapted into an Oscar-nominated film and now you can find out why this book has such a fantastic reputation for yourself. As Eilis, an Irish girl, emigrates to Brooklyn, New York, she faces the challenges of being a long way from home when she finds herself homesick and alone. But, just as she starts to wish herself back home, she meets someone who just might want to make her stay.

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10. Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn

Alison Weir

This is the second book in historian Alison Weir's Six Tudor Queens series, where each book tells the story of one of Henry VIII's wives. This book is all about Anne Boleyn, her ambitious rise to fame and power and her fall at the hands of the wrath of the king. This compelling read brings one of England's most famous queens to life to tell her story.

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Fall back in time with these fantastic historical fiction books that will leave you hooked until their last pages.

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    In Stalin's Soviet Union, crime does not exist. But still millions live in fear. The mere suspicion of disloyalty to the State, the wrong word at the wrong time, can send an innocent person to his execution. Officer Leo Demidov, an idealistic war hero, believes he's building a perfect society. But after witnessing the interrogation of an innocent man, his loyalty begins to waver, and when ordered to investigate his own wife, Raisa, Leo is forced to choose where his heart truly lies. Then the impossible happens. A murderer is on the loose, killing at will, and every belief Leo has ever held is shattered. Denounced by his enemies and exiled from home, with only Raisa by his side, he must risk everything to find a criminal that the State won't admit even exists. On the run, Leo soon discovers the danger isn't from the killer he is trying to catch, but from the country he is trying to protect.
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    A captivating read from Irish author Colm Toibin, Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young girl growing up in Ireland in the early 1950s. With opportunities scarce in her home country, Eilis emigrates to New York. After arriving in Brooklyn, Eilis starts to feel homesick and just as things are starting to look positive as she makes a friendship - possibly more - she receives devastating news which takes her back to Ireland. She then has to make a choice between duty and one great love.

  • Pat Barker Collection - 3 Books - Collection - 9780241976234 - Pat Barker
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    Focusing on the treatment of casualties during World War I, our Pat Barker Collection is a powerful, harrowing examination of the insanity of conflict. Here, we are delighted to bring you her complete Regeneration series for less than the RRP of just one book - we're sure once you pick them up, you won't be able to put them down.

    In Regeneration, the first book in the series, a decorated English officer is sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Combining real-life and fictional characters, and issues of class and politics, the book effortlessly weaves heart-rending prose and expert plotting.

    Completing this trio of poignant wartime novels are The Eye in the Door and the Man Booker Prize-winning The Ghost Road.

    An ideal set of books for anyone who is interested in powerful writing, historical fiction and military history, our three-book Pat Barker Collection is shocking, eye-opening and completely immersive.

    This collection contains books 1-3 in Pat Barker's Regeneration series.
  • M.C. Beaton: The Six Sisters Collection - 6 Books - Collection - 9781472126641 - M.C. Beaton
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    This collection brings together six stories about six sisters, all written by Book People favourite M.C. Beaton.

    Regency romance from a bygone era, these stories are very funny and are sure to appeal to the Agatha Raisin author's fans - although they are much lighter and very different to her crime writing.

    When Charles Armitage announces that his eldest daughter Minerva is to have her coming-out in London, the news is not well received by the rest of the family; Mrs Armitage has one of her turns and Minerva's sisters all start to cry.

    As well as Minerva, this collection gives all the sisters a chance to shine - Annabelle passionately falls for Minerva's intended, Lord Sylvester; Deidre wants to marry for love and nothing else; Diana loves to hunt while dressed as a man; and Frederica runs away from home when she has to follow her sisters in marrying magnificently.
  • Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn - Hardback - 9781472227621 - Alison Weir
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    Following the success of Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen last year, historian Alison Weir presents the second book in her fictional Six Tudor Queens series - Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession.

    brilliant novel for fans of Philippa Gregory, it finds Weir presenting an unforgettable portrait of Anne Boleyn and showing that she was an ambitious individual who managed to change the course of history.

    Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne quickly drew attention at the English court and embraced the play of courtly love. She wanted the crown and was determined to get it - by any means necessary...

    The second of Henry's queens, it is common knowledge how she died but this enthralling page-turner of a novel explains how she also lived.
  • LTPG
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    Philippa Gregory, author of the Cousins' War series, is often regarded as the queen of historical fiction and this meticulously researched novel focuses on the legacy left by Lady Jane Grey, a woman who was Queen of England for nine days.

    Using her position as cousin to the deceased king, her father and his conspirators put her on the throne ahead of the king's half-sister Mary, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her crown and locked Jane in the Tower. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent her to the executioner's block... It's here where Jane turned her father's greedy grab for power into a tale of brave and tragic martyrdom.

    Jane leaves all kinds of letters to her younger sister, Katherine, and they're all intended to help her enjoy her beauty, youth and to find love. Katherine's lineage makes her a threat to the insecure and infertile Queen Mary and when news of a secret marriage is revealed by her pregnancy, she is also sent to the tower. She, too, leaves the youngest Grey sister, Mary, a letter with advice.

    Mary is a beautiful dwarf who has been disregarded by the court and she finds it easy to keep secrets. After watching her sisters defy the Queen, Mary knows she is a possible heir to the throne, but she's determined to stay in charge of her own destiny.
  • Eagles of Empire Collection - 5 Books - Collection - 9781472250872 - Simon Scarrow
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    Simon Scarrow is one of the world's favourite historical fiction authors and his Eagles of the Empire series is a must-read for fans of Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden.

    Under the Eagle, the first book in the series, is set in AD42 and follows bookish Quintus Licinius Cato as he arrives in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman Army. He struggles to adapt to the military lifestyle and things get even tougher when he's appointed a rank above his colleagues, due to his imperial connections. Second in command to Macro, the army find themselves on a special mission to Britain - a land of unparalleled barbarity...

    The army also faces bloody skirmishes with sinister organisations; fall into the hands of a dark sect of Druids; attempt to seize the south west of Britain; and end up as fugitives on the run.

    This collection includes books 1-5 in Simon Scarrow's Eagles of the Empire series.
  • BHOK
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    The Butcher's Hook is the debut novel from former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. Submitted to publishers anonymously after graduating from the Curtis Brown creative writing school, it's set in Georgian London and tells the story of 19-year-old Anne Jaccob - the daughter of a well-to-do family who decides to swerve her arranged marriage in favour of finding her own happiness.

    When Anne meets butcher's apprentice Fub, she begins to imagine a life of passion with him... but her parents have found someone who they deem to be far more suitable for her. Fiercely independent and idiosyncratic, she makes the decision to follow her own dreams - even if that means getting some blood on her hands.

    An atmospheric and riveting story that has plenty of dark and twisted turns, this is a page-turning novel that will appeal to fans of The Miniaturist and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
  • C.J. Sansom Collection - 3 Books - Collection - 9781509858309 - CJ Sansom
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    This huge collection will take you back to the 16th century as it brings together the first three bestsellers in C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series.

    Set in 1537, a time of revolution when England had seen its greatest changes since 1066, the trilogy starts with Dissolution. In this book, Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and has brought in new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Meanwhile, Thomas Cromwell has sent a team of commissioners to investigate the monasteries in an attempt to dissolve them. Dr Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer and long-term supporter of Reform, but when he's sent to investigate a horrific murder of one of Cromwell's team he begins to doubt everything he ever believed...

    Dark Fire finds Shardlake trying to keep a low profile but this doesn't last long. He's soon sent to follow the trail of Greek Fire (the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies) across the whole of Tudor London; and Sovereign finds Shardlake investigating the murder of a York glazier who may well be connected to the royal family...
  • The Last Hours - Hardback - 9781760632137 - Minette Walters
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    An acclaimed crime writer, this huge novel - set in Dorset during the time of the Black Death - finds Minette Walters turning her hand to historical fiction.

    It's June, 1348 and Dorset is unprepared for the outbreak of the disease. Sadly, its people start to die in their thousands... In the estate of Develish, Lady Anne takes control of her people's future and chooses a slave called Thaddeus Thurkell to act as her steward. Together they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside the walls. However, this upsets the social order and cracks and conflicts begin to arise...

    The community are ignorant of what is happening outside their walls and start to wrestle with themselves, their beliefs and their futures. Does anyone have the courage to leave the security of the walls?