The best military history fiction books set in the pre-1900s

Who am I?

History was one of my majors in college and it’s something that I’ve always gravitated back to despite venturing off into various non-history-related careers. When I chose to become an author, it was only natural that I would find myself writing in the military historical fiction genre. I found these works not only inspiring, but both time and money well spent. While they range widely outside of modern conflicts, they shine a light on the grim times and places of long ago. I believe my award-winning Northern Wolf Series will do the same for you as its cavalry-focused novels bring to life lesser-known engagements of the American Civil War.

I wrote...

Northern Wolf

By Daniel Greene,

Book cover of Northern Wolf

What is my book about?

Johannes Wolf. Soldier. Hero. Immigrant—he'll wage war until the very end, settling scores along the way. Swindling his way into the bedraggled and demoralized Army of the Potomac, he finds himself placed in a company of misfits and unwanted recruits, who become the North’s most daring rogues of the war. Men who will do anything to win.

Ride with Custer and the Michigan Brigade in this Laramie Award Winner, historical page-turner packed with detailed passages of battle, the horrors of war, and the struggle to discover oneself. Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Jeff Shaara, Giles Kristian, and Steven Pressfield will be captivated by this powerful new series.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love this book?

Steven Pressfield writes one heck of a war novel, but it is how he captures the warrior ethos and spirit, brotherhood, and honor that make his novels must-reads. In Gates of Fire, we follow the famous 300 Spartans (and allies) at the Battle of Thermopylae as they stand against the incredibly massive army of the Persian Emperor Xerxes through the eyes of a Spartan servant/squire. Written long before the Spartan mythos took control of pop culture, this novel features the best fictional depiction of the most famous last stand in history. If you have any interest in ancient Greek warfare and culture, Pressfield will make it worth your time.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…

The Last Kingdom

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Last Kingdom

Why did I love this book?

The Last Kingdom is the first novel of the Saxon Chronicles and is one of my top series I’ve read to date. Cornwell is a master of bringing the gritty, gutty, politics, and warfare of the “Dark Ages” to life with his roguish hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Born a Saxon, raised a Viking, Cornwell takes us on a journey through kingdoms in turmoil, invaders from across the seas, and cutthroat politics at home. Uhtred is constantly torn between his loyalties, cultures, and women, and all the while we are introduced to some of the most fascinating historical and fictional characters put to paper. Cornwell is a master storyteller and will truly bring you alongside him in the shield wall as a thousand Norsemen pound their shields and scream for your head.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Last Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

In a land torn apart by conflict, an orphan boy has come of age. Raised by the Vikings, deadly enemies of his own Saxon people, Uhtred is a fierce and skilled warrior who kneels to no-one.

Alfred - Saxon, king, man of god - fights to hold the throne of the only land still resisting the pagan northerners.

Uhtred and Alfred's fates are tangled, soaked in blood and blackened…

The Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara,

Book cover of The Killer Angels

Why did I love this book?

Killer Angels is considered a must-read of American Civil War historical fiction, focusing on four different officers (Longstreet and Lee for the South and Buford and Chamberlain for the North) over the course of the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg is widely considered the turning point of the Civil War (in tandem with Vicksburg) with an astronomical number of casualties over the course of three days. Shaara brings the officers to life and one finds themselves understanding the interpersonal relationships and the personalities of the men ordering tens of thousands of soldiers to sacrifice themselves. If you have any interest at all in learning about arguably the most important battle of the war, start here. If that isn’t enough to pick it up, it is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

By Michael Shaara,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Killer Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty…

Book cover of Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade

Why did I love this book?

Warriors of God is an up-close and very personal deep dive with two legendary players during the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin as they battle for the Holy Land. We dive headfirst into each ruler’s accession to power and how they clashed over the sands of the Levant. The novel is as gripping as it is profound, and I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking to further their knowledge and understanding of the crusades and their impact on our world today. However, it should be noted that while “history” tends to cross the line into fiction at times. Warriors of God is the only non-fiction history novel on this list. I feel that the narrative and story are strong enough to be read for knowledge and entertainment.

By James Reston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of the Third Crusade, and the two men who dictated its outcome: Saladin, hero of the Islamic world and Richard the Lionheart. Richard and the King of France led a European army of several hundred thousand warriors, but Saladin's manoeuvres resulted in the crusaders retreat and the demise of the Third Crusade,

Blood Eye

By Giles Kristian,

Book cover of Blood Eye

Why did I love this book?

While written in a similar vein as The Last Kingdom, Kristian has a knack for making his writing come to life in a very Anglo-Saxon epic poem kind of way. In this novel, we follow an orphan of sorts, Raven, as he joins a rapacious band of Norsemen embarking on a violent quest. Kristian is a relative newcomer compared to the others on this list, but he does not disappoint and will take the reader on a grand adventure.

By Giles Kristian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For two years Osric has lived a simple life, apprentice to the mute old carpenter who took him in when others would have him cast out. But when Norsemen from across the sea burn his village they also destroy his new life, and Osric finds himself a prisoner of these warriors. Their chief, Sigurd the Lucky, believes the Norns have woven this strange boy's fate together with his own, and Osric begins to sense glorious purpose among this Fellowship of warriors.Immersed in the Norsemen's world and driven by their lust for adventure, Osric proves a natural warrior and forges a…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Vikings, Jerusalem, and the Battle of Gettysburg?

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