Top 10 Historical Novels

Few of the renowned authors have proved it that history is not always monotonous. There are many tales surrounding some of the significant events that have taken place through the passage of time. These incidents are so mesmerizingly woven into these historical novels that they intrigue the mind of a reader more than anything else. Read through the record of top 10 historical novels to know how history has played an important role in shaping our contemporary society and thoughts.

Top Ten Historical Novels

The list of top ten historical novels presents some of the top novels with reference to history.

1. War and Peace


Published in 1869, War and Peace is the literary creation of the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy. Portraying a detailed account of the atrocities of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society and the French Invasion of Russia, it has been regarded as the best historical novel composed till date. Even during 2009, Newsweek has honoured the historical novel with the leading position among Top 100 Books. War and Peace was so well accepted that it was later adapted by film, opera, theatre and music band.

2. I, Claudius


I, Claudius; is an autobiography of Claudius, the Roman Emperor. It was authored way back in 1934 by Robert Graves. In 1998, Modern Library had given the historical volume the fourteenth position among the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Again in 2005, TIME magazine had mentioned it in its list of one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present. The novel is probably the best work Robert that has always been a part of best historical novels list.

3. Pure


Pure is a 2011 novel by the prominent English writer Andrew Miller. With the subject of pre-revolutionary France, the historical novel was inspired by the Les Innocents Cemetery. As soon as it was it published, Pure received a good amount of positive appreciation. It was even the winner of the Costa Book Award 2011 for “Book of the Year” and “Best Novel”. Its cover was designed by Royston Knipe themed on Francisco Goya’s impression – The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

4. Warlock


Based on ancient Egypt, Warlock is the imaginary work of the world’s best adventure writer, Wilbur A. Smith. With glowing depictions of adore and passion, conflict and deception, good and evil, the author gifts the current generation with one of the best historical novels. Prince Nefer and Lord Naja are the central figure of the Warlock and individual’s tale of achieving power compiles the book.

5. Wolf Hall


Honoured with a number of awards, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is another master piece that deserves to be a part of the top 10 historical novels list. It describes the phase from 1500 to 1535 when Thomas Cromwell rose to power in the court of Henry VIII. It was published in 2009. Wolf Hall was awarded with the National Book Critics Circle Award and also with the Man Booker Prize. The book was written as a tribute to Henry VIII’s 500th anniversary.

6. Brooklyn


Frontrunner of the 2009 Costa Novel Award, Brooklyn was also mentioned by “The Observer” as one of The 10 best historical novels. Though it has a 1950’s setting, it was selected for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2011. This piece of historical volume was composed by Colm Tóibín and received complimentary reviews while opened to readers. Brooklyn basically relates to events that lead to the transformation of the American society during the time of 1950.

7. Romola


Romola has a fifteenth century setting and describes in detail about the city of Florence and goes in depth from the point of view of society, religion, artistic values and intellectualism. George Eliot has written it and is regarded as one of the top historical novels known to reader till date. Romola also mentions many notable historical names from the city as its story takes place amid the Italian Renaissance. It was adapted for a silent film in 1924.

8. The Blue Flower


Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower is the best among her four historical novels. With a lot of positive remarks, it was also selected as “The 10 best historical novels” by “The Observer” in 2012. It depicts the love story of the famous German romantic poet cum philosopher, Novalis.  Besides the subject of 1790’s provincial Saxony has been creatively woven through the volume for which Penelope was much credited.

9. The Leopard


Through the historical novel, The Leopard; Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa artistically sketches the changes in Sicilian society and life all through the Risorgimento. It was published in 1958 that became the top selling novel in the history of Italy. Moreover it is one of the most significant literary volumes in modern Italian literature. Also the 1963 award winning film with the same title is an adaptation of the novel.

10. Gates of Fire


Authored by Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire is a 1998 historical fiction novel. It is considered as one amid the top historical novels because it details the Battle of Thermopylae from the view point of its only survivor – Xeones. It is not only a renowned historical novel but is also a part of Virginia Military Institute and Brophy College Preparatory study curriculum. Gates of Fire also describes about Spartan society and “agoge” – a military training program for Spartan boys.

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