The best historical novels that drop you into adventure

Thomas J. Berry Author Of Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze
By Thomas J. Berry

Who am I?

I have always loved reading and feel a natural attraction to history and the lessons it can give us. I want to learn something new whenever I pick up a book but also enjoy the story and characters as well. Since 2010, I have authored six historical novels of my own and am working on my seventh. I carefully weave years of extensive research into a fast-paced, exciting story that pushes all the right buttons! Intrigue, love, fear, and hope are integral parts of my novels, and I hope along the way, my readers will gain a new insight into a different culture or era they never knew before.  


I wrote...

Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze

By Thomas J. Berry,

Book cover of Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze

What is my book about?

Five men and women in Ancient Greece are set on a dangerous journey of self-discovery during the bitter conflict of the Peloponnesian War.

The Olympic festivals honor the gods with their renowned athletic contests and one woman finds herself in a deadly gamble when she must make an agonizing choice. A young helot slave longs for freedom while a new wife imperils herself to stand by her husband and home. When a wealthy aristocrat finds his world turned upside down, he must learn what true sacrifice is all about. A Spartan officer who has lived by a strict code of tradition must discover new ways to cope in an unconventional war.  Who will survive and what will their lives be like when it's over?

The books I picked & why

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The Pillars of the Earth

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Why this book?

I am an avid reader and love to learn about history and the people who shaped this world in times gone by. I have an eye for literary craftsmen and give special praise to those who really excite my interest and keep me reading long into the night. I first picked up Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth back in college and it blew me away in terms of historical details, plot, and characters. I had never quite read anything like it before. It’s a lengthy saga detailing a small town in Britain during the Middle Ages but the gripping tales of Tom Builder and his struggling family made the time pass quickly. The trials they faced were real but the bonds these characters forged throughout the story renewed my hope in humanity. It taught me that history did not have to be stark and boring…it could come alive in new and exciting ways! Truly the best historical novel I have ever read.  


The Jester

By James Patterson,

Book cover of The Jester

Why this book?

James Patterson is one of my favorite authors and his historical novel The Jester is a masterpiece, blending an intriguing story of treachery, deceit, and love against the backdrop of Medieval Britain. Patterson brings the characters into living color, especially the poor peasants who toil within the cold, stone walls. While the plot is fantastic in its own right, the author does something unique that sets him apart – his chapters are always short and easy to read. Cliffhangers dangle at the end of most of the pages, keeping the reader on the edge of his seat. The combination makes this book hard to put down and you’ll be finished in no time. It's clear he understands what the reader wants, and he delivers!


Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Why this book?

Ever since watching the 2006 movie 300 about the famous Spartan defense against the Persians in Ancient Greece, I was intrigued by the people behind the story and the events which shaped it. I immediately fell in love with Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire! He effortlessly blends historical realism with character development while not shying away from the important questions that transcend the ages. What is fear and how do soldiers of any army reach deep into themselves to fight for hearth and home? It was my first foray into Ancient Greece and would shape my vision for Spartan culture for years to come.  


Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis

By William C. Davis,

Book cover of Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis

Why this book?

Have you ever wondered what happens during a significant moment in history and no one is left to tell the tale? Three Roads to the Alamo by William C. Davis helps give a wonderful backstory to the characters leading up to the famous 1836 Texas battle against the Mexican army under Santa Ana. The pages are filled with details obtained through original documents of the era both in the United States and Mexico, making the characters come alive as never before. The incorrigible James Bowie, loyal commander William Barret Travis, and the renowned Davy Crockett give the ultimate sacrifice against insurmountable odds, and in doing so, shape the course of history forever.


Alexander the Great

By Philip Freeman,

Book cover of Alexander the Great

Why this book?

Of all the characters in history, few have accomplished as much as Alexander the Great. It has been over two thousand years since the young man from Macedonia set out with his father’s army and conquered the entire Persian and Egyptian empires in just six short years. Philip Freeman brings this incredible story to life in his book Alexander the Great. I was mesmerized by the politics and behind-the-scenes machinations of this man and the court he controlled as he marched his army across the scorching deserts and inhospitable terrain. The young king was forced to confront both traitors in his midst and enemies at the point of his spear, all the while keeping his iron grip on a rebellious populous. A lively read!


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