100 books like A Time for Swords

By Matthew Harffy,

Here are 100 books that A Time for Swords fans have personally recommended if you like A Time for Swords. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Aelfred's Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age

MJ Porter Author Of Son of Mercia

From my list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of novels set in Saxon England. I studied the era at both undergraduate and graduate levels and never meant to become a historical fiction writer. But I developed a passion to tell the story of the last century of Early England through the eyes of the earls of Mercia, as opposed to the more well-known, Earl Godwin. I’m still writing that series but venture further back in time as well. I might have a bit of an obsession with the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. I’m fascinated by the whole near-enough six hundred years of Saxon England before the watershed moment of 1066, after which, quite frankly, everything went a bit downhill. 

MJ's book list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England

MJ Porter Why did MJ love this book?

This is a book about much more than just the most famous of the Saxon kings, Alfred the Great. The narrative begins in 789 and runs to 955, and charts not only the ‘beginning’ of England, as we know it, but also the ‘end’ of the smaller kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. One of the more recent of my book recommendations, Max Adams simply thinks about Saxon England the way that I do, and he’s able to weave a narrative that’s conscious of both the narrative sources for the period and recent archaeological advances. I often pick up his books (he’s written two others about earlier Saxon England) to make use of his timelines and maps. He has a lightness of touch and flair that makes even the murkiest of topics, engaging and more importantly, comprehensible.

By Max Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Aelfred's Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Aelfred the Great, his war against the Vikings and the foundations of modern Britain.

In AD 865, a 'great host' of battle-hardened Norse warriors landed on England's eastern coast, overwhelmed East Anglia with terrifying swiftness and laid the North to waste. Ghosting along estuaries and inshore waters, in 871 they penetrated deep into the southern kingdom of Wessex, ruled over by a new and untested king, AElfred son of AEdelwulf. It seemed as though the End of Days was come.

Max Adams tells the story of the heroic efforts of AElfred, his successors and fellow-kings of Britain,…


Book cover of Essays in Anglo-Saxon History

Richard Shaw Author Of How, When and Why did Bede Write his Ecclesiastical History?

From my list on Bede and his Ecclesiastical History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of History at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Canada. Previously a journalist and a diplomat serving in the Middle East, since returning to academia I have published several books and a wide variety of academic articles – winning the 2014 Eusebius Essay Prize. My work is focused on source analysis and the use of sources to reconstruct the truth of the past – especially in the early Middle Ages: as a result, I have been able to discover the date of Augustine of Canterbury’s death; the underlying reasons behind the need to appoint Theodore of Tarsus as bishop; and the essential story of how Bede produced his Ecclesiastical History.

Richard's book list on Bede and his Ecclesiastical History

Richard Shaw Why did Richard love this book?

To my mind, James Campbell was the greatest commentator on early Anglo-Saxon England of the last sixty years.

He was my tutor at Oxford for a course on early Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, and he inspired me to recognise just how much of the so-called “Dark Ages” can be brought to light via a combination of rigour in analysis and creativity in reconstruction.

Campbell’s seminal articles on Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, included in this edited collection, transformed Bedan studies and set out the path forward for the next generation of scholars, although much more remains to be done – particularly in connection with identifying Bede’s sources and unpacking the chronology of the composition of his History.

If you want to understand the conversion of Anglo-Saxon England, you need to understand Bede’s Ecclesiastical History; and if you want to understand Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, you have to understand Bede. The quest will…

By James Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essays in Anglo-Saxon History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Campbell's work on the Anglo-Saxons is recognised as being some of the most original of recent writing on the period; it is brought together in this collection, which is both an important contribution to Anglo-Saxon studies in itself and also a pointer to the direction of future research.


Book cover of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

Andrew Varga Author Of The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel

From my list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong student of history. Even as a child I would devour history books or watch documentaries on TV telling tales of past wars of heroic battles. This passion eventually turned into a degree in History from the University of Toronto. I have also visited countless museums, castles, ruins, and historic sites throughout Europe and North America. My particular interest in Anglo-Saxon history came during my university years when I took some Old English language courses. Poems like the Battle of Maldon and Beowulf were my gateway to the rich tapestry of lives and events that made up the Anglo-Saxon era.

Andrew's book list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history

Andrew Varga Why did Andrew love this book?

This book provides a grand tour of 600 years of English history in a light, entertaining way that kept me engrossed throughout.

Although it would be impossible to cover all Anglo-Saxon history in just one book, the author does a fantastic job of introducing the major people and events that defined and shaped this period of English history.

By Marc Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Anglo-Saxons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'[A] clever, lively ... splendid new book'
DAN JONES, SUNDAY TIMES

'A big gold bar of delight'
SPECTATOR

Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters. In this sweeping and original history, renowned historian Marc Morris separates the truth from the legend and tells the extraordinary story of how the foundations of England were laid.

'Marc Morris is a genius of medieval narrative'
IAN MORTIMER, author of The Time Traveller's…


The Forest Knights

By J. K. Swift,

Book cover of The Forest Knights

J. K. Swift Author Of Acre

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good fight scene! It doesn’t need to be long and gruesome, but it must be visceral and make me nervous for those involved. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a good first-kiss scene but unfortunately, my past has made me more adept at recognizing and writing one over the other. I started training in martial arts at the age of nine and continued for thirty years. I don’t train much these days but I took up bowmaking a few years back and now spend a lot of time carving English longbows and First Nations’ bows. I recently also took up Chinese archery.

J. K.'s book list on with realistic fight scenes

What is my book about?

The greatest underdog story of the medieval age.

A wild land too mountainous to be tamed by plows. A duke of the empire, his cunning overshadowed only by his ambitions. A young priestess of the Old Religion, together with a charismatic outlaw, sparking a rebellion from deep within the forests. And an ex-Hospitaller caught between them all.

The Forest Knights

By J. K. Swift,

What is this book about?

A druid priestess enlists the help of an ex-Hospitaller warrior and a charismatic outlaw to fight Austrian tyranny in medieval Switzerland. A subtle blend of fantasy and history, ALTDORF (Book 1) tells the events leading up to one of the greatest underdog stories of the medieval age, the Battle of MORGARTEN (Book 2).


Book cover of The Shining Company

Wendy J. Dunn Author Of The Light in the Labyrinth

From my list on Rosemary Sutcliff for history loving teenagers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author passionate about history. Alas, not Australian history. That would make my life so much easier. As a child, I loved tales of ancient Greece. That love took me in two directions—Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome—Ancient Rome introduced me to Roman Britain, and the Roman Britain novels of Rosemary Sutcliff. My love of history probably explains why a childhood friend gave me a child’s book of English history for my tenth birthday. One of the book’s chapters told the story of Elizabeth I. As she wont to do in her own times, Elizabeth hooked me, keeping me captured ever since, and enslaved to writing and learning more about Tudors.

Wendy's book list on Rosemary Sutcliff for history loving teenagers

Wendy J. Dunn Why did Wendy love this book?

Sutcliff’s characters and stories are always believable—and show her amazing gift to always make her research invisible to the reader. All her works feed from actual history. She weaves a fragment or story from the past into a rich tapestry of the human experience and makes history live again. This tale shows her skills perfectly. Sutcliff uses as her source Y Gododdin, a period poem, to frame the construction of this coming-of-age story. Sutcliff takes the torch of the poem’s attempt to keep alive the memory of men who fought and died in a sixth-century British battle, comparable to that of the Battle of Thermopylae, to relight it through the eyes of Prosper, Sutcliff imagined British shield bearer. A witness to and one of the few to survive this unwinnable battle, Prosper sings a tale of The Shining Company who sacrificed their lives so others could live.

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shining Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'I saw riders with black eyesockets in glimmering mail where their faces should have been, grey wolfskins catching a bloom of light from the mist and the moon; a shining company indeed, not quite mortal-seeming.' Many years after King Arthur defeated the Saxons, the tribes of Britain are again threatened by invaders. Prosper and his loyal bondsman, Conn, answer the call of King Mynydogg to join a highly skilled army - the Shining Company. Led by the gallant Prince Gorthyrn, the company embark on a perilous but glorious campaign. An epic tale of battles and bravery from the acclaimed historical…


Book cover of By Force Alone

RJ Hore Author Of The Dark Lady

From my list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

An avid reader, and a spec-fiction/fantasy reviewer for CM Canada online, I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I write “pantser-style” and let the characters run loose, looking at their motivation to steer the tale, often starting with little more than an idea and, if lucky, a character or two. My love of history led me to writing mediaeval or historical fantasy, as my first group of published novels attest, but to avoid stagnation added science fiction and a fantasy detective series of novellas. To date have fourteen novels and three anthologies of my novellas published and have appeared on panels at several cons.

RJ's book list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul

RJ Hore Why did RJ love this book?

A brutal re-telling of the King Arthur legend, this novel reimagines the familiar story, retaining the feeling of weird magic, while pulling no punches about the characters. Arthur is a thug, Guinevere is no better, Merlin is a frustrated sprite beset by his female counterparts, and Britain is best described as a “clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.”

The first of a five-book planned series to tell the story of the Matter of Britain, this is a ruthless and dark take that grabbed me from the beginning. I’ve always loved history, even a warped version like this. It left me eager for more and set me tracking down what else this author had written. I was not disappointed.

By Lavie Tidhar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is a legend...

Britannia, AD 535

The Romans have gone. While their libraries smoulder, roads decay and cities crumble, men with swords pick over civilisation's carcass, slaughtering and being slaughtered in turn.

This is the story of just such a man. Like the others, he had a sword. He slew until slain. Unlike the others, we remember him. We remember King Arthur.

This is the story of a land neither green nor pleasant. An eldritch isle of deep forest and dark fell haunted by swaithes, boggarts and tod-lowries, Robin-Goodfellows and Jenny Greenteeths, and predators of rarer appetite yet.

This…


Book cover of Aethelstan: The First King of England

MJ Porter Author Of Son of Mercia

From my list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of novels set in Saxon England. I studied the era at both undergraduate and graduate levels and never meant to become a historical fiction writer. But I developed a passion to tell the story of the last century of Early England through the eyes of the earls of Mercia, as opposed to the more well-known, Earl Godwin. I’m still writing that series but venture further back in time as well. I might have a bit of an obsession with the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. I’m fascinated by the whole near-enough six hundred years of Saxon England before the watershed moment of 1066, after which, quite frankly, everything went a bit downhill. 

MJ's book list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England

MJ Porter Why did MJ love this book?

Aethelstan is an engrossing account of king Aethelstan, lauded as the first crowned king of ‘England,’ something his father, and more importantly, his grandfather, King Alfred, was unable to lay claim to. It’s a thorough examination of all that’s known about Aethelstan during his reign. It’s rare to get a book dedicated to any one single king before the reign of Æthelred II, who was Aethelstan’s great, great-nephew, and reigned thirty years later. The work shows just how much can be gleaned about historical figures during this period by experts in the field, who know how to unpick all the complicated details and present them to readers in an engaging format.

By Sarah Foot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"AEthelstan was perhaps the most important king of tenth-century England, but we know very little about him, and he has no modern biography. Sarah Foot triumphantly fills this gap, and adds to the richness of our understanding of the period in a way that few others have managed."-Chris Wickham, author of The Inheritance Of Rome

The powerful and innovative King AEthelstan reigned only briefly (924-939), yet his achievements during those eventful fifteen years changed the course of English history. He won spectacular military victories (most notably at Brunanburh), forged unprecedented political connections across Europe, and succeeded in creating the first…


Book cover of The Anglo-Saxons

Andrew Varga Author Of The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel

From my list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong student of history. Even as a child I would devour history books or watch documentaries on TV telling tales of past wars of heroic battles. This passion eventually turned into a degree in History from the University of Toronto. I have also visited countless museums, castles, ruins, and historic sites throughout Europe and North America. My particular interest in Anglo-Saxon history came during my university years when I took some Old English language courses. Poems like the Battle of Maldon and Beowulf were my gateway to the rich tapestry of lives and events that made up the Anglo-Saxon era.

Andrew's book list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history

Andrew Varga Why did Andrew love this book?

By using a balance of primary sources and archaeological discoveries, this book provides a detailed overview of Anglo-Saxon history, presented in a very readable way.

But what truly makes this book stand out is the colour and black-and-white images that decorate almost every page. These images provide an intimate view of Anglo-Saxon life, art, and religion that mere words can never achieve. 

By James Campbell, Eric John (editor), Patrick Wormald (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This survey, an introduction to the history of Anglo-Saxon England looks at political history, and religious, cultural, social, legal and economic themes are woven in. Throughout the book the authors make use of original sources such as chronicles, charters, manuscripts and coins, works of art, archaelogical remains and surviving buildings.The nature of power and kingship, role of wealth, rewards, conquest and blood-feud in the perennial struggle for power, structure of society, the development of Christianity and the relations between church and secular authority are discussed at length, while particular topics are explored in 19 "picture essays".


Book cover of Wolf of Wessex

J. K. Swift Author Of Acre

From my list on with realistic fight scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good fight scene! It doesn’t need to be long and gruesome, but it must be visceral and make me nervous for those involved. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a good first-kiss scene but unfortunately, my past has made me more adept at recognizing and writing one over the other. I started training in martial arts at the age of nine and continued for thirty years. I don’t train much these days but I took up bowmaking a few years back and now spend a lot of time carving English longbows and First Nations’ bows. I recently also took up Chinese archery.

J. K.'s book list on with realistic fight scenes

J. K. Swift Why did J. K. love this book?

Mathew Harffy has a lot going for him in the historical fiction world. His fight scenes are not overly technical and are easy to follow. They have just the right amount of blood and gore to make you believe the characters are really in danger but are not simply gratuitous violence. What I really love about this book is his voice when he writes descriptions of the forest and the people who live in it. I grew up in the woods of a small town in Canada, and I know how the forest can be a peaceful, tranquil setting one moment and then suddenly transform into a place of shadows and dread. Judging by the cover of this book, I think Harffy knows this as well.

By Matthew Harffy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Harffy's Dunston is a fantastic creation - old, creaking and misanthropic. The forest is beautifully evoked. A treat of a book' The Times.

AD 838. Deep in the forests of Wessex, Dunston's solitary existence is shattered when he stumbles on a mutilated corpse.

Accused of the murder, Dunston must clear his name and keep the dead man's daughter alive in the face of savage pursuers desperate to prevent a terrible secret from being revealed.

Rushing headlong through Wessex, Dunston will need to use all the skills of survival garnered from a lifetime in the wilderness. And if he has any…


Book cover of The Anglo-Saxon World

Tom Licence Author Of Edward the Confessor: Last of the Royal Blood

From my list on Anglo-Saxon England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tom Licence is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia and a former Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He teaches Anglo-Saxon History to undergraduates and postgraduates.

Tom's book list on Anglo-Saxon England

Tom Licence Why did Tom love this book?

The Anglo-Saxon World is the best introductory survey for students of Anglo-Saxon history. Experts in their field, the authors flesh out the traditional narrative account with insights from archaeology, numismatics, and DNA analysis. The book is splendidly enriched by almost three hundred colour photographs, tables, maps, and diagrams, while box-out sections in each chapter delve into interesting topics or debates. The authors also outline the historiography for readers who want to know how scholarly understanding of the period has developed.

By Nicholas J. Higham, M.J. Ryan, Nicholas J. Higham

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Anglo-Saxon World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Anglo-Saxon period, stretching from the fifth to the late eleventh century, begins with the Roman retreat from the Western world and ends with the Norman takeover of England. Between these epochal events, many of the contours and patterns of English life that would endure for the next millennium were shaped. In this authoritative work, N. J. Higham and M. J. Ryan reexamine Anglo-Saxon England in the light of new research in disciplines as wide ranging as historical genetics, paleobotany, archaeology, literary studies, art history, and numismatics. The result is the definitive introduction to the Anglo-Saxon world, enhanced with a…


Book cover of Anglo-Saxon England

Matthew Harffy Author Of A Time for Swords

From my list on the world of Anglo-Saxon Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Matthew Harffy is the author of ten novels set in the early medieval world. His Bernicia Chronicles, follow the saga of Beobrand as he moves through the echelons of Anglo-Saxon society, fighting in many battles and dealing with the intrigues of the ever-increasingly powerful men and women with whom he mixes. Recently, with Wolf of Wessex and the A Time for the Swords series, Harffy has covered the early Viking Age with his usual eye for detail, historical realism and a gripping plot.

Matthew's book list on the world of Anglo-Saxon Britain

Matthew Harffy Why did Matthew love this book?

This is the granddaddy of history books about the Anglo-Saxons. Much of the history has evolved and moved on since its original publication in the 1940s, but Sir Frank Stenton is comprehensive and thorough and the resulting tome is jam-packed with information.

By Frank Stenton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anglo-Saxon England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discussing the development of English society, from the growth of royal power to the establishment of feudalism after the Norman Conquest, this book focuses on the emergence of the earliest English kingdoms and the Anglo-Norman monarchy in 1087. It also describes the chief phases in the history of the Anglo-Saxon church, drawing on many diverse examples; the result is a fascinating insight into this period of English history.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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