100 books like Dark Fire

By C.J. Sansom,

Here are 100 books that Dark Fire fans have personally recommended if you like Dark Fire. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Act of Oblivion

Adele Jordan Author Of The Gentlewoman Spy

From my list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a ghostwriter, I’m asked to turn my hand to many genres. Yet the one I keep returning to is Renaissance Adventure. Having always been a fan of adventure, in films, TV, or books, for my English Degree at Exeter University, I dedicated my dissertation to the genre, and the fascination shows no sign of fading. I love all these books, but there is one difference between these and my series. That is the heroes here are all men. Bring on more adventure in this era with women! I hope you enjoy the books on this list – they are a fantastic way to spend your evenings with your pulse racing.

Adele's book list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance

Adele Jordan Why did Adele love this book?

The most recent publication on this list, this book hit me this year like a brick, and surprisingly, that is a good thing.

I picked this book at a time when I needed to escape the world, and it truly offered that escape. Inspired by the true events of trying to track down those responsible for the beheading of Charles I, this is a powerful tale that leaves you questioning who exactly you’re supporting. An adventure that takes place both in England and America in 1660, it is a slow burn.

So yes, we have a degree of setting up, but if you enjoy slow-build tension, then this is the book for you. It’s a heavy dose of historical detail that transports you, and the ending? Hold onto your hats!

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Act of Oblivion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A belter of a thriller' THE TIMES
'A master storyteller . . . an important book for our particular historical moment' OBSERVER
'His best since Fatherland' SUNDAY TIMES

'From what is it they flee?'
He took a while to reply. By the time he spoke the men had gone inside. He said quietly, 'They killed the King.'

1660. Colonel Edward Whalley and his son-in-law, Colonel William Goffe, cross the Atlantic. Having been found guilty of high treason for the murder of Charles the I, they are wanted and on the run. A reward hangs over their heads - for their…


Book cover of The Royal Secret

Adele Jordan Author Of The Gentlewoman Spy

From my list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a ghostwriter, I’m asked to turn my hand to many genres. Yet the one I keep returning to is Renaissance Adventure. Having always been a fan of adventure, in films, TV, or books, for my English Degree at Exeter University, I dedicated my dissertation to the genre, and the fascination shows no sign of fading. I love all these books, but there is one difference between these and my series. That is the heroes here are all men. Bring on more adventure in this era with women! I hope you enjoy the books on this list – they are a fantastic way to spend your evenings with your pulse racing.

Adele's book list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance

Adele Jordan Why did Adele love this book?

Andrew Taylor is known for his great mysteries set in the 1600s, but the reason I’m picking this one above his others is the power of the opening and how it draws you into this world.

We’re introduced to a house where two girls are playing with what is effectively a voodoo doll, wishing harm on their master. When something inevitably happens to the master, these girls’ simple game with the doll becomes much more wicked. Who couldn’t be drawn in by such a premise?

Like Samson and Bishop, Taylor takes the reader on an investigation through a city from a different era, but it’s the people in Taylor’s book that make the stakes of this adventure so much higher.

By Andrew Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II.

Over 1 Million Andrew Taylor Novels Sold! A Times Best Paperback of 2022

Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate - but the task brings unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells…


Book cover of City of Vengeance

Adele Jordan Author Of The Gentlewoman Spy

From my list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a ghostwriter, I’m asked to turn my hand to many genres. Yet the one I keep returning to is Renaissance Adventure. Having always been a fan of adventure, in films, TV, or books, for my English Degree at Exeter University, I dedicated my dissertation to the genre, and the fascination shows no sign of fading. I love all these books, but there is one difference between these and my series. That is the heroes here are all men. Bring on more adventure in this era with women! I hope you enjoy the books on this list – they are a fantastic way to spend your evenings with your pulse racing.

Adele's book list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance

Adele Jordan Why did Adele love this book?

I recently had the pleasure of meeting D V Bishop at CrimeFest in Bristol, and his passion for his stories truly comes through in person.

After picking it up for a friend whose favorite place in the world is Florence, where the book is set, I couldn’t resist reading it myself, and oh, I am glad I did. Three books into the series, and it’s hard to put down. Cesare Aldo is a hero that is mysterious and resilient – a man trying to hide his sexuality in a world where it’s a crime – as he investigates murders in Renaissance Florence.

Like Samson, Bishop masters drawing the reader into becoming attached to the hero, with the book unputdownable. 

By D. V. Bishop,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger 2021.

City of Vengeance is an explosive debut novel in an historical thriller series by D. V. Bishop, set in Renaissance Florence.

'An impressive and immersive debut set in a beautifully realized sixteenth-century Florence' - Antonia Hodgson

'A first-class historical thriller . . . Bishop's spirited and richly detailed story is a tour-de-force' - David Baldacci

Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth.

Cesare Aldo, a former…


Book cover of Martyr

Adele Jordan Author Of The Gentlewoman Spy

From my list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a ghostwriter, I’m asked to turn my hand to many genres. Yet the one I keep returning to is Renaissance Adventure. Having always been a fan of adventure, in films, TV, or books, for my English Degree at Exeter University, I dedicated my dissertation to the genre, and the fascination shows no sign of fading. I love all these books, but there is one difference between these and my series. That is the heroes here are all men. Bring on more adventure in this era with women! I hope you enjoy the books on this list – they are a fantastic way to spend your evenings with your pulse racing.

Adele's book list on exciting adventure in the Renaissance

Adele Jordan Why did Adele love this book?

Part of the Shakespeare family? Working for Walsingham in the height of the spy era? Who wouldn’t want to read about John Shakespeare!

There are many books in this series, but I’ve picked Martyr in particular as it’s the first, and what an introduction. With the threat of war imminent, and Mary Stuart about to be assassinated, a dark world is created here where it feels like every day that Shakespeare wakes up, he might struggle to keep breathing. What danger!

Once more, Rory Clements creates a world of intrigue that isn’t solely placed at the royal court but opens our eyes to the darker underbelly of the city. This book first got me into this genre many years ago. I could not recommend it enough as a first dip. 

By Rory Clements,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Martyr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

*****Part of the bestselling John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers from Rory Clements, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award*****

'Does for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's' Sunday Times

England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her.

Tensions in Elizabeth I's government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingham. When an intercept reveals a plot to…


Book cover of The Merry Devils

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

Forget Shakespeare. Nicholas Bracewell and Lord Westfield’s Men are a far more intriguing introduction to Elizabethan theatre. I was there, watching the rehearsals, hearing the applause, and enjoying the play as murder was committed, literally, behind the scenes.

With a bit of alchemy, madness, and passion thrown into the mix, if you love the Elizabethan period this is a not-to-be-missed historical mystery as Nicholas pits his wits against the devil himself. 

By Edward Marston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He had the power to assume a pleasing shape, but would he take to the stage . . . ?

The audience was merry indeed when a third devilish imp bounded onstage to join the two that had been written into the script. But backstage all was uproar. The third demon seemed too much like the real thing. Even Nicholas Bracewell, the company mainstay, was shaken when, next time the play was given, only one devil appeared. The second, poor fellow, was now only a little red heap backstage. Murdered.

Before the curtain rose again, Lord Westfield's Men would suffer…


Book cover of Monk's-Hood: The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

A real classic whodunnit and an old-school case of poisoning.

I loved every word of Ellis Peter’s third book in her Brother Cadfael series, taking me back to the turbulent times of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda in the twelfth century – a period I find intriguing. And with the wise and friendly Cadfael, the abbey’s herbalist and unraveller of dastardly deeds to guide the reader, I was hooked from the start.

And what happens when a celibate monk encounters an old flame? Do sparks fly? I couldn’t wait to find out. Cadfael is a proper page turner. 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monk's-Hood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Cadfael, Benedictine monk and self-appointed detective of Shrewsbury Abbey, defends a young man accused of poisoning his stepfather, a guest at the abbey, and pursues several seemingly obscure clues to expose the murderer


Book cover of Prince Edward's Warrant

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

Mel Starr is an American author who deserves to be better known for his Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton set in late fourteenth-century England.

Hugh is a surgeon as well as bailiff of Brampton. In this eleventh tale, Hugh is escorted to Kensington Palace, his expertise required to treat the ailing Black Prince. But I knew things had to get more serious than that and, sure enough, murder is committed.

Mel Starr’s research is impeccable and I found myself in the heart of medieval England, encountering royalty, rogues, and worse villains. But Hugh’s medical knowledge means he can tell an accident from a deliberate killing and there’s no deceiving him when he’s on a murderer’s trail.

By Mel Starr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prince Edward's Warrant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Another delightful and absorbing mystery from Mel Starr, keeping the reader guessing as the corpses pile up in Prince Edward's palace. Hugh de Singleton, of the dry wit and engaging humility, is one of my favourite sleuths.' Penelope Wilcock, British author and blogger

Master Hugh won the Black Prince's favour when he helped to ease the Prince's illness.

Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him. While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies. Poison!…


Book cover of The Bookseller's Tale

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

Again, we are in the fourteenth century, in Oxford, but following the first terrible onslaught of the Black Death. The title made this a must-read for me because my own sleuth, Seb Foxley, is involved with the making and selling of books, just like Ann Swinfen’s hero, Nicholas Elyot. I wasn’t disappointed.

The characters came alive for me and I too was sad when a good student was found drowned in the river. But the bookseller is suspicious and uncovers a villainous plot, putting him, his family and friends in danger.

A beautifully-woven medieval mystery; I had to read it in one go – forget the washing up. Fortunately, this is book 1 of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries so there’s more fun to come.

By Ann Swinfen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bookseller's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oxford, Spring 1353. When young bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of student William Farringdon floating in the river Cherwell, it looks like a drowning. Soon, however, Nicholas finds evidence of murder. Who could have wanted to kill this promising student? As Nicholas and his scholar friend Jordain try to unravel what lies behind William’s death, they learn that he was innocently caught up in a criminal plot. When their investigations begin to involve town, university, and abbey, Nicholas takes a risky gamble – and puts his family in terrible danger.


Book cover of Mistress Cromwell

Judith Arnopp Author Of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years

From my list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading Historical Fiction as a youngster led me to study history at university – so the Tudors have been part of my life for about forty years now. After graduating with a Master’s degree, my career choice was easy. Of my thirteen novels, ten are Tudor, covering among others, the lives of Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Mary Tudor, and King Henry VIII himself. It isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ to live in such close proximity to the Tudors, but I would be hard pushed to write in a modern setting. Give me an ill-lit chamber, a royal banquet, or even a grisly beheading and I am perfectly at home.

Judith's book list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court

Judith Arnopp Why did Judith love this book?

Another lesser-known figure, Elizabeth is the wife of Thomas Cromwell. She has very little mention in the historical record but the author draws on what we do know of her husband, Thomas. Elizabeth Cromwell’s character is convincing and likable. I particularly enjoyed glimpsing another side of Thomas Cromwell, a more human side and I loved the descriptions of their imagined daily life together. The author doesn’t over describe but the sights, sounds, and smells of the city are touched on just enough to provide a sense of place. It was also refreshing to see a woman involved in business in her own right, the cloth trade is described with enough detail to engage the reader but never becomes tedious.

By Carol McGrath,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"One of my favourite Tudor set books . . . A wonderfully vivid read." Nicola Cornick

Young widow Elizabeth Williams is determined to make a success of the business she inherited from her merchant father. But an independent woman draws the wrong kind of attention, and Elizabeth soon realises she has enemies - enemies who know the dark truth about her dead husband.

Happiness arrives when Elizabeth meets rapidly rising lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage begins in mutual love and respect - but it isn't easy being the wife of an ambitious courtier in Henry VIII's London. The city is…


Book cover of Bring Up the Bodies

Ken Parejko Author Of Kasia's Story

From my list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the epistemological craziness around the year 2000 that I christened myself a truth warrior. I was already a scientist. Yet I knew there were other important truths, not of the mind but of the heart, truths we discover and marvel over in the realm of art. So as a biology professor I was granted a sabbatical to write the second of three of my novels, about Pliny the Elder. It is through literature, some of my own making, that I find new ways of seeing and experiencing the world: and of discovering and validating what is true, and what is not.

Ken's book list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion

Ken Parejko Why did Ken love this book?

Though I did enjoy the earlier Wolf Hall I found Bring Up the Bodies more readable and compelling.

Hilary Mantel paints intimate word pictures of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and especially Thomas Cromwell, struggling to make his way through the minefield of political intrigue at Henry’s court. Though it is against almost every principle he holds dear, Cromwell charts a course which one step at a time ultimately brings Anne Boleyn down.

Finding himself in an almost impossible situation, he agonizes over every decision, looking at it from many sides: legal, political, ethical, spiritual, and religious. Meanwhile not far in the background we see the Church’s Pope Clement trying desperately, like Oz’s man behind the curtain, to control events.

Mantel’s genius was her ability to transform dry history into compelling, character-driven stories.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Bring Up the Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize

The second book in Hilary Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, with a stunning new cover design to celebrate the publication of the much anticipated The Mirror and the Light

An astounding literary accomplishment, Bring Up the Bodies is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists.

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

Bring Up the Bodies unlocks the darkly glittering court of Henry VIII, where Thomas Cromwell is now chief minister. With Henry captivated by plain Jane Seymour and rumours of Anne Boleyn's faithlessness whispered by…


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Interested in King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and the Renaissance?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and the Renaissance.

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