The best historical fiction to take you travelling across Europe and beyond

J.G. Harlond Author Of The Chosen Man
By J.G. Harlond

Who am I?

My idea of ‘good fiction’ – and what I try to write myself – involves secret agents and skulduggery, crime, and romance. My own life has involved a good deal of travel. I studied Education and Drama, then Literature, History, and Politics at post-graduate level. All of which help with my research and writing. As a British ex-pat, I have lived in the USA and different parts of Europe. Now, we are finally settled near Málaga, Spain. ‘Deep-reading’ fiction set in fascinating places, quality content to indulge in on dark winter nights. I hope you enjoy your time travel as much as I do.


I wrote...

The Chosen Man

By J.G. Harlond,

Book cover of The Chosen Man

What is my book about?

Book 1 in The Chosen Man Trilogy

Europe, 1635. Charismatic Genoese merchant, occasional pirate, and professional rogue Ludo da Portovenere endeavours to fulfill a highly secret Vatican commission on his own terms. But as he nears success, Ludo must confront secrets of his own, an inconvenient romance, and an implacable assassin on a personal vendetta. Readers' Favorite 5* & Discovered Diamond Award.

The books I picked & why

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Niccolò Rising: The First Book of The House of Niccolò

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Book cover of Niccolò Rising: The First Book of The House of Niccolò

Why this book?

This is the first book in the breathtaking House of Niccolò series that takes readers across Europe from Flanders to Tuscany, then to Scotland, Cyprus, and Constantinople, among other places, in the mid-fifteenth century. It is the story of a humble but gifted Bruges dye-works apprentice named Claes who turns himself into the wealthy, well-respected, often feared Niccolò, who wreaks havoc on his enemies. Dunnett’s hist-fic is for serious fans of the genre: kings, duchesses, and courtiers, financial machinations with the Medici, international intrigue, and the very best sort of timeless narrative. Not an easy read, but unforgettable, and so worthwhile. Dunnett inspired me to write action-packed but quality historical fiction based on serious research. 

Niccolò Rising: The First Book of The House of Niccolò

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this first book of The House of Niccolò series, the author of the Lymond Chronicles introduces a new hero, Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.

With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of…


A Divided Inheritance

By Deborah Swift,

Book cover of A Divided Inheritance

Why this book?

Lace-making and swordsmanship, and a deadly personal feud; swashbuckling hist-fic with a well-researched core about cultural conflict in 17th century Spain. The story opens in London, in 1609, then moves to Seville, where a young woman tries to reclaim her inheritance from a man devoted solely to fencing and himself. I married into a traditional Spanish family; I know Seville. Deborah Swift captures the summer heat and dust, and the pervading sensation that violence is just one stone's throw away in a page-turning novel that made me think more deeply about Moorish Andalucía, what happened in the past here – and is still happening. Quality fiction.

A Divided Inheritance

By Deborah Swift,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Divided Inheritance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First she must fight for her inheritance. Then she must fight for her life.
'a classy, compelling adventure story and a true journey of discovery.' -- Lancashire Evening Post
London 1609
Genteel Englishwoman Elspet Leviston has always managed her father's lace business and expects to continue in his footsteps. So when her hot-headed cousin Zachary Deane appears from nowhere, his arrival in her life is like an earthquake.

Zachary has no love at all for Leviston's Lace, and when her father dies unexpectedly, Elspet is horrified to find her inheritance is tied to her cousin's and her house belongs to…


Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence

By Jean Gill,

Book cover of Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence

Why this book?

Book 1 in Gill’s Troubadour series opens in Provence, in 1150. A young runaway wakes in a ditch protected by a huge white dog. The girl becomes the celebrated lutist Estela at the court of Alienor of Aquitaine. Her tutor, then lover, is the Queen’s finest troubadour, Dragonetz los Pros. Using Jewish money and Moorish expertise, Dragonetz builds a paper mill, bringing him into desperate conflict with the Christian Church. This is a compelling story woven into real events: the writing is captivating, the history fascinating. Jean Gill is one of those authors who can ‘take you there’. I was watching what was happening and fearing for the safety of the protagonists to the last page. History, action, and a not-too-treacly romance. A great read all round.

Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence

By Jean Gill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Song at Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning historical fiction. Like Game of Thrones with real history.
'Believable, page-turning and memorable.' Lela Michael, S.P. Review
1150: Provence, where making love and making paper are crimes against the Church.
Death on her heels, Estela runs towards a new identity. Her life depends on her golden voice and the patronage of
Eleanor of Aquitaine but her heart cares more for the judgement of her tutor, Dragonetz, a cynical ex-crusader. He knows he must not love this troublesome student but their duet makes its own demands.
Will their secrets kill them both? The troubadours, Dragonetz and Estela, are an explosive…


Children of Earth and Sky

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Book cover of Children of Earth and Sky

Why this book?

Technically this is not historical fiction, but if you know anything about Venice and Constantinople, you will recognise our world in the past. Guy Gavriel Kay’s magical writing weaves history into fantasy, where incredible occurrences become perfectly credible. This story is about various individuals caught up in a conflict between those who worship the stars and those who pray to the sun. Each character is very real in their flaws and ambitions and desires. Battles are fought across the fantasy Balkan states and the Adriatic Sea, involving Seressa (Venice) and the Asharites (the ‘infidel’). Kay’s books are quite simply splendid; I love the way they take me on exciting journeys with fascinating characters. Un-put-downable.

Children of Earth and Sky

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children of Earth and Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Guy Gavriel Kay, bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, once again visits a world that evokes one that existed in our own past, this time the tumultuous period of Renaissance Europe - a world on the verge of war, where ordinary lives play out in the grand scheme of kingdoms colliding.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates , a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different…


Monsoon

By Wilbur Smith,

Book cover of Monsoon

Why this book?

I’m not a great Wilbur Smith fan, but I read this story because it involves trade with India in the age of sail and the monsoon, and it has stayed with me. There is a sweeping plot taking an 18th Century Englishman on a perilous voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to the Indian Ocean, memorable characters, victims of greed and perpetrators of evil, and some brilliantly described action scenes. If you want some edge-of-your-seat armchair travel, this novel will take you on a real adventure to far-away places.

Monsoon

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

BOOK 10 IN THE EPIC HISTORICAL SAGA OF THE COURTNEY FAMILY, FROM INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER WILBUR SMITH

'Smith will take you on an exciting, taut and thrilling journey you will never forget' - The Sun

'With Wilbur Smith the action is never further than the turn of a page' - The Independent


'No one does adventure quite like Smith' - Daily Mirror

THEY LEAVE AS BROTHERS. THEY RETURN AS MEN.

The East India Trading Company is under attack from pirates. Under orders from the King himself, famed sailor Hal Courtney makes the dangerous journey to Madagascar with his young sons, charged…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Europe, Provence, and brothers?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Europe, Provence, and brothers.

Europe Explore 627 books about Europe
Provence Explore 15 books about Provence
Brothers Explore 71 books about brothers

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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