100 books like An Imperial Possession

By David Mattingly,

Here are 100 books that An Imperial Possession fans have personally recommended if you like An Imperial Possession. 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 The Eagle of the Ninth

Wendy Orr Author Of Cuckoo's Flight

From my list on to bring history to life.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and when I dreamed of being an author, imagined I’d write historical fiction. However, it took many writing detours to arrive there. (Nim’s Island, by the way, has no basis in historical fact!). When I first imagined the story that led to the Minoan Wings trilogy, I fell in love with researching this era, which is particularly intriguing because there are virtually no written records. Visiting the ruins of a four-thousand-year-old town on Crete under the guidance of an archaeologist who had not only excavated there but had become passionately involved with my imaginary characters, was an absolute highlight of my life. 

Wendy's book list on to bring history to life

Wendy Orr Why did Wendy love this book?

This was the book that made me want to write historical fiction. I cared so desperately about the characters that I wanted to be there with them, wishing I could do something to help; they are still very clear in my mind. We were living near the USAF Academy at the time, and I convinced my mother to drive me out to their library where I pored over and made copious notes on Roman military history so that I could write my own story about the missing Ninth Legion. (I still have the notes!) 

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Eagle of the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The Everyman edition reprints the classic black and white illustrations of C. Walter Hodges which accompanied the first edition in 1954.

Around the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum - modern day York - marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again. During the 1860s, a wingless Roman Eagle was discovered during excavations at the village of Silchester in Hampshire, puzzling archaeologists and scholars alike. Rosemary Sutcliff weaves a compelling story from these two mysteries, dispatching her hero, the young Roman officer Marcus Aquila, on a perilous journey beyond…


Book cover of The Emperor's Babe

Liz Gloyn Author Of Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture

From my list on ancient Greece and Rome.

Who am I?

I’m a Reader in Latin Language and Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. In my research and my teaching, I think a lot about the literature and culture of the Roman empire around the first century A.D. As well as sharing my enthusiasm about the people whose writing and objects have survived down to us, I also enjoy reading and exploring how contemporary authors have used their creative freedom to recreate the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome.

Liz's book list on ancient Greece and Rome

Liz Gloyn Why did Liz love this book?

I’m embarrassed that I only read this book recently because it’s a wonderful engagement with ancient evidence to create a vision of Roman Britain. Evaristo uses the burial of the so-called Spitalfields Lady – a woman buried in a sarcophagus with scallop shell decorations and a rich range of grave goods – to create Zuleika, a lively girl who lives with her Nubian parents in Roman London; in blank verse, the story follows her life from being married off as a child bride to catching the eye of the emperor Septimius Severus. Evaristo mixes historical detail with contemporary slang and references, bringing her vision of London under a multi-cultural Roman Empire vividly to life.

By Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER

'Wildly entertaining, deeply affecting' Ali Smith

Londinium, AD 211. Zuleika is a modern girl living in an ancient world. She's a back-alley firecracker, a scruffy Nubian babe with tangled hair and bare feet - and she's just been married off a fat old Roman. Life as a teenage bride is no joke but Zeeks is a born survivor. She knows this city like the back of her hand: its slave girls and drag queens, its shining villas and rotting slums. She knows how to get by. Until one day she catches…


Book cover of Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain

Ruth Downie Author Of Medicus

From my list on Roman Britain.

Who am I?

A family visit to Hadrian’s Wall first sparked my interest in Roman Britain, and since then I’ve written eight novels, one novella, and a couple of short stories featuring Roman Army Medic and reluctant sleuth Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British partner, Tilla. I’m the owner of an archaeological trowel and infinite curiosity, both of which I wield as often as possible in search of the “real” Roman Britain. 

Ruth's book list on Roman Britain

Ruth Downie Why did Ruth love this book?

A modern tour around sites of Roman Britain, and a fascinating look at the stories we later Britons have told ourselves about the Roman era over the ensuing centuries – in ways that perhaps say more about us than they do about the Romans. 

By Charlotte Higgins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Under Another Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse? Sometimes on foot, sometimes in a magnificent, if not entirely reliable, VW camper van, Charlotte Higgins sets out to explore the ancient monuments of Roman Britain. She explores the land that was once Rome’s northernmost territory and how it has changed since the years after the empire fell. Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way: as indelibly marked by how…


Book cover of Life and Letters from the Roman Frontier

Emma Southon Author Of A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome

From my list on Roman Britain.

Who am I?

Emma Southon has a PhD in Ancient History from The University of Birmingham and has been obsessed with Romans since she was 16. Her first book for general audiences was Agrippina: A Biography of the Most Extraordinary Woman in Rome and she co-hosts the podcast History is Sexy with the writer Janina Matthewson. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Emma's book list on Roman Britain

Emma Southon Why did Emma love this book?

Vindolanda is one of Britain’s best Roman sites, in part because of the letters which have been discovered. Written by Roman soldiers and their families, these letters include birthday party invitations, complaints about debts and shopping lists and they only surviving letters from a woman to a female recipient. They provide a staggeringly intimate look at daily living in a Romano-British fort and Alan K. Bowman brings the whole site to life.

By Alan K. Bowman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life and Letters from the Roman Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1998. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Book cover of Roman Sussex

Sheila Finch Author Of A Villa Far From Rome

From my list on Roman Britain and the Celts.

Who am I?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:

Sheila's book list on Roman Britain and the Celts

Sheila Finch Why did Sheila love this book?

Absolutely invaluable and more narrowly focused, Miles Russell’s Roman Sussex. This one gives the reader great details of ruins and archaeological sites (there are scores of them -- villas and temples and city walls --to be found all around Sussex). I've visited many of these historical sites, both as a student and later. Some of these places are only just coming to light, often by accident as Fishbourne was revealed when a backhoe cutting a trench across an open field hit a section of Roman brickwork. There's also a good discussion here of the real Togidubnus, my protagonist, the Celtic king who was probably the first inhabitant of the enormous palace at Fishbourne.

By Miles Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Starting with the first named resident of the county, Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus, Great King of Britain (with his palace at Fishbourne) and friend of the Roman emperor Claudius, this book reassesses the story of the Roman invasion of Britain and looks in detail at the earliest examples of Roman culture in Britain.


Book cover of The World of the Celts

Sheila Finch Author Of A Villa Far From Rome

From my list on Roman Britain and the Celts.

Who am I?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:

Sheila's book list on Roman Britain and the Celts

Sheila Finch Why did Sheila love this book?

The difference between an account of history and historical fiction is in the sensory images the writer conjures up for the reader --"You are there!" Searching for everyday details to “set the scene” for the novel, I found a wealth of material in this scholarly discussion of Celtic life, dwelling places and weaponry, clothing, technology, history and culture. Lots of useful illustrations here that brought family bonds and Celtic society to life for me.

By Simon James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World of the Celts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The full story of the Celts from the seventh century BC to the Celtic renaissance in post-Roman times


Book cover of Britain and the Celtic Iron Age

Sheila Finch Author Of A Villa Far From Rome

From my list on Roman Britain and the Celts.

Who am I?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:

Sheila's book list on Roman Britain and the Celts

Sheila Finch Why did Sheila love this book?

Another, more popularly oriented (and much shorter) discussion of Celtic life by Simon James (with Valerie Rigby), has a different focus: Britain and the Celtic Iron Age. Like the longer, less specific to Britain version by this author, this one gave me a much greater “feel” for the life of my characters before and after the Roman conquest. It’s full of photos and illustrations of Celtic artifacts, many of them collected by the British Museum.

By Simon James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain and the Celtic Iron Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Celts are seen as a family of European peoples who spoke related languages and shared many things in common, from art to aspects of religion and social organization. Was the British Iron Age simply part of this supposedly uniform, Celtic world, or was it something much more distinctive, complex, strange and fascinating than we have been led to believe? New research is promoting reappraisals of Britain's prehistory, in ways which challenge many ideas, such as that of a familiar Celtic past. This work discusses the many facets of the lives of Iron Age Britons, drawing on the wealth of…


Book cover of Daily Life in Ancient Rome: The People and the City at the Height of the Empire

Sheila Finch Author Of A Villa Far From Rome

From my list on Roman Britain and the Celts.

Who am I?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:

Sheila's book list on Roman Britain and the Celts

Sheila Finch Why did Sheila love this book?

A historical novel has to do more than just re-tell a part of history. The author has the duty to make history come alive for the reader, even if fictionalized. That means details about daily life and customs, not just buildings and battles. This book was enormously helpful in describing everyday Roman life. What the Romans were eating and wearing in Rome, they probably also ate (as near as they could) and wore in their colonies. Here I found everything from going to the barber to going to the circus.

By Jerome Carcopino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daily Life in Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic book brings to life imperial Rome as it was during the second century A.D., the time of Trajan and Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, and Commodus. It was a period marked by lavish displays of wealth, a dazzling cultural mix, and the advent of Christianity. The splendor and squalor of the city, the spectacles, and the day's routines are reconstructed from an immense fund of archaeological evidence and from vivid descriptions by ancient poets, satirists, letter-writers, and novelists-from Petronius to Pliny the Younger. In a new Introduction, the eminent classicist Mary Beard appraises the book's enduring-and sometimes surprising-influence and its…


Book cover of Roman Britain

Ruth Downie Author Of Medicus

From my list on Roman Britain.

Who am I?

A family visit to Hadrian’s Wall first sparked my interest in Roman Britain, and since then I’ve written eight novels, one novella, and a couple of short stories featuring Roman Army Medic and reluctant sleuth Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British partner, Tilla. I’m the owner of an archaeological trowel and infinite curiosity, both of which I wield as often as possible in search of the “real” Roman Britain. 

Ruth's book list on Roman Britain

Ruth Downie Why did Ruth love this book?

This is the British Museum’s take on Roman Britain and as you’d expect, there are gorgeous photos on every page. If you can drag your eyes away from the visual feast, the text is intelligent and informative and there are suggestions for further reading. Don’t just leave it adorning the coffee table – pick it up and discover a lost world!

By Richard Hobbs, Ralph Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The British Museum's new introductory guide to Roman Britain combines an informative text with first-class design and is illustrated with plentiful artefacts from the museum's collections. Throughout the book the emphasis is on cultural interaction and change, showing the impact of the Roman presence, but also British survivals; the book starts, perhaps unusually for general guides of this kind, with a section on pre-Roman Britain, and ends with a chapter on Britons after Rome. In between we learn about the military, the new literate culture introduced by Rome, about the impact of Rome on the rural economy, and on life…


Book cover of Britain Begins

Brian Haughton Author Of Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes

From my list on folklore and traditions of ancient sacred places.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by ancient sacred sites since I first visited the ancient Rollright Stones on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border decades ago. I am interested in how the study of folklore and local traditions can be used in conjunction with archaeology to trace the origins and purposes of ancient monuments. I am an author and researcher who has had seven books published on the subjects of ancient civilizations, prehistoric monuments, and supernatural folklore. Born in Birmingham, England, I am a qualified archaeologist with a BA in European Archaeology from the University of Nottingham, and an MPhil in Greek Archaeology from Birmingham University.

Brian's book list on folklore and traditions of ancient sacred places

Brian Haughton Why did Brian love this book?

I was attracted to this book as it uses the most up-to-date archaeological evidence together with new work on DNA and other scientific techniques to tell the story of the origins of the British and the Irish peoples, from around 10,000BC to the eve of the Norman Conquest. Whilst there are new archaeological discoveries made every week, one or two of which could potentially challenge some of the ideas in this work, at the moment it is the most up-to-date book on the subject which we have, and as such should be treasured.  

By Barry Cunliffe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The last Ice Age, which came to an end about 12,000 years ago, swept the bands of hunter gatherers from the face of the land that was to become Britain and Ireland, but as the ice sheets retreated and the climate improved so human groups spread slowly northwards, re-colonizing the land that had been laid waste. From that time onwards Britain and Ireland have been continuously inhabited and the resident population has increased from a few hundreds to more than 60
million.

Britain Begins is nothing less than the story of the origins of the British and the Irish peoples,…


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