[bksvol-discuss] Re: Historical fiction redux

  • From: talmage@xxxxxxxxxx
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 10:37:12 -0400

Getting a bit away from Sarah's original request, as for historical fiction, my personal opinion is that Patrick O'brian and Bernard Cornwell are hard to beat.

Patrick O'brian has his Aubrey / Matchuren (spelling?) series of which the recent movie Master and Commander was the basis. It is similar to Forester's Hornblower series, but instead of being non-stop swashbuckling like the Hornblower books, it gives you a feel for the day to day existence of the characters. It takes place in locations all over the world, and as Matchurin is a naturalist, as well as a surgeon and spy, it gives a feeling for the politics and environment of the times. One side note, the sea battles that are portrayed are all actual battles that were taken from the British Naval Archives. I haven't seen the movie, and I do know they carved up a couple of the books to make the movie, so I don't know if it is a good depiction of the series. There are 2 in the Bookshare collection, but Web Braille has them all, and I would highly recommend reading them in order.

Bernard Cornwell has a number of series which all come under historical fiction. The Archer series, the King Arthur (not the series name, but I can't remember the series title), and his Richard Sharpe books. All are very good and give some of the actual historical facts at the end of the books.
The Archer series is a trilogy of books that follow an English archer through his endeavors during the 30 year war.
The Arthur series is about the man behind the myth. It takes place much earlier than the traditional books you typically find on Arthur and Camelot.
The Richard Sharpe series is timed about the same as O'brian's Aubrey books, but instead of a naval character, Sharpe starts out in the ranks of the British Army in India during Napoleon's time.
There are several of Cornwell's books in the Bookshare collection.

For aficionados of World War II, W.E.B. Griffin's series Semper Fi does a fair to good job of introducing the reader to the politics and campaigns in the Pacific.
His Brotherhood of War series also does a nice job with the Army from the end of World War II to Vietnam.
Griffin also has a series dealing with the conception of the OSS, (the fore runner to the CIA).
His books however, are for the reader interested in military historical fiction, and you need to keep in mind he definitely makes the most of his fictional characters some of which are based on real historical figures, but loosely. It is however, interesting for the insights into the political in-fighting of the times, the overall campaigns and their strategies, and the places where troops were involved that few ever heard of.

Michael Crichton also has
Eaters of the Dead
Timeline while fitting into historical fiction also comes under science fiction as the characters travel to a parallel universe which is aligned with our world during the 30 year war.
Eaters of the Dead is a bit of a misleading title as it is concerned with 12 Vikings who need a 13th member to make up their group so they grab an Arab emissary to join them in their travels. Portions of the story are taken from just such an emissary's diary.

There also is
Doomsday Book
Connie Willis
This is about time travel where the heroin travels by mistake to 1348/9 and the introduction of the black plague in England.

As I said, these are getting a bit off Sarah's original request as they all contain violence, but that's history, and they're all good reads.


At 07:44 PM 5/11/2004, you wrote:

When one mentions historical fiction, as we recently
discussed here, why do we -- I at least -- immediately
and almost exclusively think of novels set in the
earlier centuries of Europe (a rhetorical question --
please don't answer). I was thinking today of other

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