The best historical fiction novels about extraordinary women from history

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a hybrid author from Bulgaria, and my work mostly focuses on historical fiction and fantasy. History has always been mainly centered around the male point of view. But many female heroes would also like to tell us their stories. My fascination started with the women Haiduks of Bulgaria, which gave birth to my first book Sirma. And the more I researched, the more I realized countless historical female figures worldwide deserve just as much attention. I hope this list is enriching to all readers and helps them see their captivating point of view.


I wrote...

Sirma: A historical fiction novel about a woman Haiduk

By Reni Stankova,

Book cover of Sirma: A historical fiction novel about a woman Haiduk

What is my book about?

Sirma's life changed forever when she lost her two best friends to mountain outlaws. The village elders did nothing, fearing the wrath of Hamza Bei—the head outlaw in the area. So, Sirma disguised herself as a man and forms a new mountain gang dedicated to protecting the villages and searching for Hamza Bei to put a stop to his tyranny. Her life is one of clashing with gangs of outlaws, surviving in the mountain wilderness, and keeping her comrades from finding out they were led by a woman. This is a novel about the Haiduk movement in Eastern Europe during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Far Away Bird

Reni Stankova Why did I love this book?

This is a historical novel about the life of Theodora, Empress of Byzantium. She was born in the sixth century and worked as a prostitute, but eventually became the most powerful woman in the Byzantine Empire. The book is very introspective and we learn a lot about Theodora's inner world. Even though the world throws the worst at her, she still finds the strength to continue onward and keep a sense of justice and positivity.

By Douglas A. Burton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Far Away Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Multi-award winning novel including gold medals in the Readers' Favorite Historical Personage, IBPA's Best New Voice Fiction, eLit's Best eBook in Historical Fiction, Montaigne Medal finalist (Eric Hoffer Book Award) and Screencraft's Cinematic Book competition.

Inspired by true events, Far Away Bird delves into the complex mind of Byzantine Empress Theodora. This intimate biographical account follows the extraordinary transformation of a poor young woman in a rigid medieval society. From the brothels to the bathhouses, from the theaters to the palaces, Theodora learns to let go of the people she loves most and embrace her own exploitation. But when Theodora…


Book cover of Brides of Rome

Reni Stankova Why did I love this book?

Brides of Rome offers a unique look into the life of the Vestal Virgins of Rome. The story is told through the viewpoints of several fascinating women, one of which is a vestal virgin, and another one is Cleopatra. Each one has a battle of her own and although some find a bitter end, others survive and thrive. The Roman Empire is notorious for its mistreatment of women, but this book shows a refreshing look at some that received the respect they deserved.

By Debra May Macleod,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brides of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When passion is punishable by death, can one priestess keep her emotions concealed and help steer the course of history?

Ancient Rome is a world of power and privilege, secrets and sacred duty. The esteemed priestesses of Vesta - the Vestal Virgins - are charged with ensuring the Eternal Flame in their temple never goes out. While it burns, Rome cannot fall. They are known as the Brides of Rome.

Dedicated to a thirty-year vow of chaste service, Priestess Pomponia finds herself swept up in the intrigue, violence, wars and bedroom politics of Rome's elite - Julius Caesar, Marc Antony…


Book cover of The Sekhmet Bed

Reni Stankova Why did I love this book?

The Sekhmet Bed is only the first book of the story of the only female pharaoh of Egypt Hatshepsut. Note that she was not a queen, but a pharaoh. The first book mainly focuses on the life of her mother and the familial and religious perils she went through until she gave birth to the future female pharaoh. By the last few chapters, we will see Hatshepsut as a child and will be compelled to follow her story through the series. Ancient Egypt is a culture that had a place in my heart ever since I was a child, so reading a story about one of its great women rulers was an absolute treat.

By Libbie Hawker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sekhmet Bed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't miss the second book in this series, The Crook and Flail, at a special price for a limited time!

Is Ahmose's divine gift a blessing or a curse? The second daughter of the Pharaoh, Ahmose has always dreamed of a quiet life as a priestess, serving Egypt's gods, ministering to the people of the Two Lands. But when the Pharaoh dies without an heir, she is given instead as Great Royal Wife to the new king – a soldier of common birth. For Ahmose is god-chosen, gifted with the ability to read dreams, and it is her connection to…


Book cover of Peacemaker's Dream

Reni Stankova Why did I love this book?

This historical novel centers around the life of a young girl called Pocahontas, who bears witness to the colonization of Jamestown. And unlike the popular Disney version, Peacemaker's Dream shows us the real life of this amazing heroine. We see her transition from a child to an adult, while getting involved with the colonists, and find out how heavy the price of peace can be. Truly, an eye-opening experience.

By Sue Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Peacemaker's Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you like fast paced historical fiction… this hidden gem will have you burning the midnight oil! She was young, smart and principled. They were out to get her. She never gave up… and neither did they… In a story based on fact, you will discover the heart wrenching account of the struggles of a nation under siege unprepared for the sophistication of its invader. Their most effective weapon was a young girl who has mistakenly been portrayed as a cartoon character in modern culture… The record is now being put straight.

You will cry at her loves and losses,…


Book cover of The Flower Boat Girl

Reni Stankova Why did I love this book?

The Flower Boat Girl is a historical novel about the life of Zheng Yi Sao, the most successful pirate in history (and, yes, a woman). Sold as a child to a floating brothel, at 26 she buys her freedom, but then is kidnapped and forced to marry a pirate. From there, she uses her strength and cunning mind to carve her destiny and practically make history. I loved this book, because it gives us an honest portrayal of a pirate's life and how a woman has no place in it, yet one woman makes it against all odds.

By Larry Feign,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flower Boat Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her father traded away her youth.
Sea bandits stole her freedom.
She has one way to get them back:
Become the most powerful pirate in the world.

South China coast, 1801. Sold as a child to a floating brothel, 26-year-old Yang has finally bought her freedom, only to be kidnapped by a brutal pirate gang and forced to marry their leader.

Dragged through stormy seas and lawless bandit havens, Yang must stay scrappy to survive. She embeds herself in the dark business of piracy, carving out her role against the resistance of powerful pirate leaders and Cheung Po Tsai, her…


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Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

Book cover of Subjugation: Zanchier

SG Boudreaux

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life.

After escaping from a government holding facility where she, along with other scientists, was being forced to build a deadly weapon. She headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains.

The one place where no one would think to search for her. There, she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…

Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

What is this book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life. After escaping from a government holding facility, where she along with other scientists were being forced to build a deadly weapon, she headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains. The one place where no one would think to search for her. There she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds, and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…


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