100 books like Defeat of Rome in the East

By Gareth C. Sampson,

Here are 100 books that Defeat of Rome in the East fans have personally recommended if you like Defeat of Rome in the East. 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 King Must Die

Mark Knowles Author Of Argo

From my list on realistic historical fiction set in ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt.

Why am I passionate about this?

We all read (or write) fiction for a bit of escapism, don’t we? To come face-to-face with the good, the bad, and the ugly of bygone days… The ancient Mediterranean is the place I would most love to visit in a time machine (albeit fully armed and in a hazmat suit), and these writers are – for me – the best at transporting readers there from the comfort of a sofa. I’ve tried plenty of historical fiction set in other times and places - much of it very good, but the smell of olive groves, the chirruping of cicadas, and the Aegean sun always call me back!

Mark's book list on realistic historical fiction set in ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt

Mark Knowles Why did Mark love this book?

Some authors have an innate faculty for bringing the dim and distant past into such razor-sharp clarity that it’s hard not to believe that they were once present at the time. That’s how it is with Mary Renault (real name Eileen Mary Challans): any number of her books could have made this list.

What I particularly love about this duology (the sequel The Bull From the Sea isn’t quite as strong) is that Renault retold the ancient tale of Theseus and the Minotaur as historical fiction. Though she followed the main beats of the well-known story, she boldly stripped it of gods, monsters, and magic, and the narrative doesn’t suffer at all from it. If anything, it makes it even more compelling because it feels like she has stumbled upon a possible origin to the myth.

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birth right, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.


Book cover of The Life Of Crassus (Plutarch's Lives)

Andrew Levkoff Author Of The Other Alexander

From my list on the Parthia and the war with Rome in the 1st century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on Long Island, New York, got a BA in English from Stanford, then put that hard-earned degree to dubious use in the family packaging business. After a decade of trying to convince myself to think 'inside the box (lots of them), I fled to Vermont where I attempted to regain my sanity by chopping wood and shoveling snow off my roof for 8 years. (Okay, I came down off the roof every once in a while.) Like a fine cocktail, I was by then thoroughly chilled; what could be better after this than no sunshine for 13 years. That's right - Seattle. Since 2006 I have been taking the cure in Arizona, where my skin has darkened to a rich shade of pallid. Here it was that I finally realized, under the heading of hopefully-better-late-than-never, that I needed to return to my first love - writing. I live in Tempe with my wife, Stephany and our daughter, Allison, crowded into close proximity by hundreds of mineral specimens Steph and I have collected while rockhounding. "They're just a bunch of rocks," says Allison. Ouch.

Andrew's book list on the Parthia and the war with Rome in the 1st century

Andrew Levkoff Why did Andrew love this book?

This is as close to the horse’s mouth as we can get, yet it’s still a hundred years after the events of Republican Rome’s demise. Remember the Viet Nam war? It was one of America’s great foreign policy failures. Rome hated failure like a teenager hates acne. Cover it up, deny it, erase it. That is what Plutarch does in this work. I think it speaks to Crassus' towering achievements that Plutarch has anything nice to say about him at all!

By Plutarch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life Of Crassus (Plutarch's Lives) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Rome's richest man, who died a humiliating desert death in search of military glory

"A perfectly paced biography."-Tom Holland, Times Literary Supplement

Marcus Licinius Crassus (115-53 BCE) was a modern man in an ancient world, a pioneer disrupter of finance and politics, and the richest man of the last years of the Roman republic. Without his catastrophic ambition, this trailblazing tycoon might have quietly entered history as Rome's first modern political financier. Instead, Crassus and his son led an army on an unprovoked campaign against Parthia into what are now the borderlands of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq,…


Book cover of Caesar's Women

Cass Morris Author Of From Unseen Fire

From my list on ancient Roman society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and educator working in central Virginia, and I’ve been in love with the ancient world since my first Latin class back in the seventh grade. I’ve always been interested in social history more than just the chronology of battles and the deeds of famous men, so my research looks for sources that can illuminate daily life and the viewpoints of marginalized populations. I hold a BA in English and History from the College of William and Mary and an MLitt from Mary Baldwin University.

Cass' book list on ancient Roman society

Cass Morris Why did Cass love this book?

This is my favorite of McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. Though fictional, they are impeccably researched, rendering the collapse of the Republic in truly astonishing detail. McCullough manages to render the twists and turns of Roman politics in a way that a reader can not only follow them, but understand why they mattered so much. You’ll feel as though you are right there in the Forum or the dining-room with Caesar, Antony, Pompey, Servilia, Fulvia, and the rest. McCullough’s vivid prose drives home that these were real people, living real lives, with the same petty concerns and daily frustrations as all of us, even when they were also shaping the fates of nations.

By Colleen McCullough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By the author of "Thornbirds", this is the fourth in the "Masters of Rome" series and centres around Caesar in his ascension. The Republic of Rome is as much a place of women as it is of men, and no one knows Rome's women quite as Caesar does.


Book cover of The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy: Or, the Geography, History, & Antiquities of Parthia

Andrew Levkoff Author Of The Other Alexander

From my list on the Parthia and the war with Rome in the 1st century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on Long Island, New York, got a BA in English from Stanford, then put that hard-earned degree to dubious use in the family packaging business. After a decade of trying to convince myself to think 'inside the box (lots of them), I fled to Vermont where I attempted to regain my sanity by chopping wood and shoveling snow off my roof for 8 years. (Okay, I came down off the roof every once in a while.) Like a fine cocktail, I was by then thoroughly chilled; what could be better after this than no sunshine for 13 years. That's right - Seattle. Since 2006 I have been taking the cure in Arizona, where my skin has darkened to a rich shade of pallid. Here it was that I finally realized, under the heading of hopefully-better-late-than-never, that I needed to return to my first love - writing. I live in Tempe with my wife, Stephany and our daughter, Allison, crowded into close proximity by hundreds of mineral specimens Steph and I have collected while rockhounding. "They're just a bunch of rocks," says Allison. Ouch.

Andrew's book list on the Parthia and the war with Rome in the 1st century

Andrew Levkoff Why did Andrew love this book?

Although this book was first published in 1873, it remains one of the foundations of research on the Parthian Empire. Why do I include it among these more modern works? Here’s an excerpt:

"Of the thirty sons who still remained to Orodes, king of Parthia, [he] selected as his successor Phraates, the eldest of the thirty. Orodes proceeded further to abdicate in his favour, whereupon Phraates became king. Phraates, jealous of some of his brothers, removed them by assassination, and when the ex-monarch ventured to express disapproval, added the crime of parricide to fratricide by putting to death his aged father."

The book is full of astounding little gems like this. That’s why. It is a fascinating exploration of one of the great, but few understood empires of the ancient world.

By George Rawlinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

Compared to the Roman Empire, there are few titles on Rome’s greatest rival in the ancient world. This volume, the result of 30 years of research, goes some way to redress the balance. Scholarly yet very readable, superbly illustrated and exhaustively researched, this should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the Parthian Empire.

By Uwe Ellerbrock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Parthian Empire, which existed for almost 500 years from 247 BC to 224 AD.

The Parthians were Rome's great opponents in the east, but comparatively little is known about them. The Parthians focuses on the rise, expansion, flowering and decline of the Parthian Empire and covers both the wars with the Romans in the west and the nomads in the east. Sources include the small amount from the Empire itself, as well as those from outside the Parthian world, such as Greek, Roman and Chinese documents. Ellerbrock…


Book cover of Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

A single-volume history of the ancient Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires written by an expert on ancient Persia. It is a very readable account of the great powers of the ancient world that inhabited the region that is now Iraq and Iran. It places the Parthians in the context of the story of Persia and from an eastern perspective.

By Kaveh Farrokh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadows in the Desert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The empires of ancient Persia remain as mysterious today as they were to contemporary Western scholars. Although Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia is legendary, the military successes of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian empires, along with their revolutionary military technology, tactics and culture have been almost forgotten in the sands of the East. In its day, Persia was a superpower to rival Greece and Rome, and conflict between them spanned over a millennium. Through these wars, and trade, these foes learnt from each other, not only adopting elements of military technology, but influences in the arts, architecture, religion, technology…


Book cover of Rome's Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

An excellent account of the military and political rivalry between Rome and Parthia, the two superpowers of the ancient world, spanning 300 years. Sheldon shows how the Roman defeat at Carrhae in 53BC resulted in a Roman obsession not only to reclaim the eagles lost in the battle, but also to avenge a humiliating military defeat, leading to 250 years of military campaigns and political intrigues.

By Rose Mary Sheldon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rome's Wars in Parthia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The leader of an empire invades Iraq. He has inadequate intelligence and underestimates the resistance of the locals, but he believes his overwhelming military strength will bring him a swift victory. His army overruns the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates, but as soon as he occupies the area a massive insurgency arises, made up of various ethnic and religious groups. What began as a simple conquest for dominance bogs down in deadly fighting as the once-victorious commander-in-chief now desperately searches for an exit strategy.... This scenario could be any number of Roman campaigns, not to mention America in…


Book cover of Cataphracts: Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

The armies of ancient Parthia were mostly composed of two troop types: horse archers and cataphracts. This title explores the development of the latter horsemen, which in fact predated Parthia but were particularly effective in Parthian service. So much so that they were adopted by the Romans in the second century AD as they sought to defend the borders of their threatened empire.

By Erich B. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cataphracts were the most heavily armoured form of cavalry in the ancient world, with riders and mounts both clad in heavy armour. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes, such as the Massegatae and Scythians, they were adopted and adapted by several major empires. The Achaemenid Persians, Seleucids, Sassanians and eventually the Romans and their Byzantine successors. Usually armed with long lances, they harnessed the mobility and mass of the horse to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain (not least due to the need for…


Book cover of The Light Bearer

Athena Author Of Murder of Crows: Book One of the Pillars of Dawn

From my list on when destiny calls, and love answers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for the topic because it’s so unlimited. We’re all called to destiny inner/outer in so many ways. We see a lot of stories about those calls being massive adventures with global impact—but sometimes the small stories, those inner calls with inner love answers are just as epic, just as magnificent. Love of family, community, country, lovers, nature… truly, it can be anything. These are just a few books off the older shelves to illustrate the many ways love answers the call. My challenge is to go back and re-read them with this list in mind. Re-visit books from a decade ago, reframe the story with love.

Athena's book list on when destiny calls, and love answers

Athena Why did Athena love this book?

I never miss an opportunity to recommend this book for its broad scope and human courage.

It’s such an immersive and very human story full of adventure, challenge, will, and passion. Auriane is brought to such exquisite life as a woman born to a destiny meant to free the people she loves.

This book lands on my list for a call to destiny answered by love because Auriane’s life is an example of how we can’t see ourselves, or how we often don’t know where to fit, whom to challenge, and where to connect—but we find our way by being relentlessly devoted to doing what feels right to us, guided by that internal flame until we unite with the force that gives us a purpose, place, meaning.

Often, if not always, that destiny is deeply anchored in love. 

For Auriane, that love is her tribe, and her community, family, friends,…

By Donna Gillespie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Auriane, daughter of a Rhine River area chieftain in 50 A.D., must face her difficult destiny and lead her people against the invading legions of the Roman Empire


Book cover of When in Rome

Rosanna Staffa Author Of The War Ends At Four

From my list on the unexpected ways we find home.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Italian-born writer living in Minneapolis. I experienced being an outsider early on in my childhood when my family moved from Naples to Este, a small town in the hills near Venice. My fascination with language started then as I had to master the different Northern dialect. I was a listener rather than a talker. My shyness was painful in life but turned out to be a gift as a writer. When I left Italy for America, once again I was an outsider, too visible or invisible, and facing a new language. I relate to estrangement and longing, but I treasure that being an outsider still gives me a sense of wonder about reality.

Rosanna's book list on the unexpected ways we find home

Rosanna Staffa Why did Rosanna love this book?

I'm loving this novel by Liam Callanan.

It poses questions I feel close to and presents turns of life I have been surprised by myself, if in a different way. The writing is richly textured and so very delicate.

"...She'd known quiet, of course... But not silence, not like this. This silence had texture and shape; it felt attached to each molecule of air. Everything inside her was falling silent, too."

Claire, 52 and a real estate broker, deeply desires a fresh start. She receives a call from a convent in Rome that is facing its end. When she arrives she meets a colorful, fierce group of nuns living in a crumbling villa and starts wondering if she should stay forever.

By Liam Callanan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From nationally bestselling, award-winning author Liam Callanan, the story of an opportunity to start over at midlife, a chance to save a struggling convent in the Eternal City, and the dramatic re-emergence of an old flame . . .

Meet Claire: fifty-two, desperate to do something new and get a fresh start.

Enter the chance to go to Rome: Home to a struggling convent facing a precipitous end, the city beckons Claire, who's long had a complicated relationship with religion, including a “missed connection” with convent life in her teens. Once in Rome, she finds a group of funny, fearless…


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