The best books that inspired me to start writing

Who am I?

I first became obsessed with the ancient world at around seventeen, and have spent the subsequent years researching and gathering knowledge on all aspects of ancient life. It was through fiction that this love first blossomed and the yearning for books has not yet ceased. In 2015 I decided I didn’t want to just be a reader anymore, and I began work on what would in 2017 become my debut novel, The Centurion’s Son. I have no plans to stop any time soon.


I wrote...

The Centurion’s Son

By Adam Lofthouse,

Book cover of The Centurion’s Son

What is my book about?

Albinus, the son of a revered Roman veteran Silus, has always longed to be a farmer, not a soldier, and lives his days ploughing and reaping the harvests, with his bride-to-be, Licina. But Silus’ has darker ambitions, and wishes for Albinus to follow in his footsteps in the army. As the conflicts between father and son come to a head, a growing threat comes down from the vengeful Germanic tribes to the north. Just as Albinus and Licina are about to marry, their settlement is raided by barbarians and Silus and his veteran comrades are brutally killed, while Licina is kidnapped by the raiders and taken to their king as a gift.

Believing her to be alive, Albinus sets out on a quest to find Licina, finally fulfilling his father’s wishes. As the barbarian hordes gather and plan a major rebellion against the Romans, Albinus finds a new fighting spirit within him and grows in stature among the legionaries. Licina meanwhile has a fight of her own, to escape from slavery and find Albinus. Time is running out, as the northern tribes head for Rome, decimating everything in their path…

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Toy: Lord of the Silver Bow

By David Gemmell,

Book cover of Toy: Lord of the Silver Bow

Why this book?

David Gemmell wrote some truly amazing books in his life, this trilogy for me stands out. His re-imagining of the Trojan myths is unrivalled, his ability to build a world and make it real, fill it with flawed but brilliant characters had me hooked. He took a well-worn tale, stripped it down and brought it to life in a way no one else could. This taught me that it didn’t matter if I wanted to write something that I thought had already been ‘done.’ Only you can tell your story, and at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important.


Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur

Why this book?

I was about seventeen, at an airport waiting for a flight to Cyprus when I picked up this book whilst browsing. Didn’t realise at the time it would change my life forever. I read it three times in two weeks, despite finding out after the first time it was the third in a trilogy. I was hooked on the blood and the battles, the brotherhood of Arthur’s soldiers, the bygone era Bernard Cornwell seemed to so effortlessly breathe back to life. I haven’t looked back since.


The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of The Blade Itself

Why this book?

No one creates a character like Joe Abercrombie. He doesn’t write about heroes and villains, just real people with different perspectives. The Bloody Nine must be the greatest creation I’ve ever read. You come to know Joe’s characters like the back of your hand, you can anticipate their actions and find joy when you are right and outrage when you are wrong. This novel, and the subsequent two, taught me that strength of character far out weighs what you are trying to do with your plot. Some times it’s not all about the destination, it’s about the journey. And in the world of the First Law, every journey can be perilous.  


The Forgotten Legion

By Ben Kane,

Book cover of The Forgotten Legion

Why this book?

Ben instantly became one of my favourite authors after this. It’s not often you can feel an author’s passion for their work, but it shone from every page in this book. I was already hooked on ancient Rome, but I just found this stood out amongst its peers. Ben didn’t concentrate on the generals and senators that would write their names into history, but on the everyday soldiers that lived by the edge of their sword. It is a book I will certainly never forget


Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar

By Conn Iggulden,

Book cover of Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar

Why this book?

This is the book that started me off down the path of loving all things Roman. I had just returned from my holiday in Cyprus and rushed to my local bookstore, looking for anything that might be similar to Cornwell’s Excalibur. I found this, and what is sure to be a lifelong infatuation begun. Taking the characters of Caesar and Brutus, and telling their story from when they were children right up to their deaths was a masterstroke. Each year when the next in the series was released it felt like returning to an old friend, and I was gutted when it came to an end.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Julius Caesar, murders, and twins?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Julius Caesar, murders, and twins.

Julius Caesar Explore 19 books about Julius Caesar
Murders Explore 292 books about murders
Twins Explore 38 books about twins

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Cicero Trilogy, Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire, and The First Man in Rome if you like this list.