100 books like Emperor

By Colin Thubron,

Here are 100 books that Emperor fans have personally recommended if you like Emperor. 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 Eagle in the Snow

Edoardo Albert Author Of Edwin

From my list on overlooked or largely forgotten historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and historian, specialising in the early-Medieval period and the fractious but fruitful encounter between the Christian and Islamic worlds. My fiction is informed by my non-fiction work: it’s a great help to have written actual histories of Northumbria in collaboration with some of the foremost archaeologists working on the period. I regard my work as the imaginative application of what we can learn through history to stories and the books I have selected all do this through the extraordinarily varied talents of their authors. I hope you will enjoy them!

Edoardo's book list on overlooked or largely forgotten historical fiction

Edoardo Albert Why did Edoardo love this book?

For writers of historical fiction, Eagle in the Snow has attained almost mythical status. First published fifty years ago, the book is still in print mainly through the enthusiastic recommendation of readers. Wallace Breem wrote only two other works and died in 1990, so there will be nothing more from his pen. It adds piquancy to the themes of the story: it’s a tale of the passing of things and the dying of an empire. It’s the tale of a man struggling against the fading of the light, even though he knows the struggle is hopeless. It’s a story of endings in a world that does not understand its mortality.

By Wallace Breem,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Eagle in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel about General Maximus, one of the inspirations behind Ridley Scott's massively successful film GLADIATOR.

'Behind me I left my youth, my middle age, my wife and my happiness. I was a general now and I had only defeat or victory to look forward to. There was no middle way any longer, and I did not care.'

In the year AD 406 Rome was on the defensive everywhere, and a single Roman legion stood desperate guard on the Empire's Rhine frontier. Maximus, the legion's commander, is urged to proclaim himself emperor, but he stands by his concept of duty…


Book cover of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

Ian Ross Author Of War at the Edge of the World

From my list on novels set in the later Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ian Ross was born in England and studied painting before turning to writing fiction. He has been researching the later Roman empire and its army for over a decade, and his interests combine an obsessive regard for accuracy and detail with a devotion to the craft of storytelling. His six-novel Twilight of Empire series follows the career of Aurelius Castus as he rises from the ranks of the legions to the dangerous summit of military power, against the background of a Roman world in crisis.

Ian's book list on novels set in the later Roman Empire

Ian Ross Why did Ian love this book?

The Empress Theodora is one of the most colourful and notorious figures in eastern Roman (or ‘Byzantine’) history, and in this book, and the sequel The Purple Shroud, Stella Duffy brings her brilliantly to life. After spending her early years in the coarse and brutally competitive demimonde of performers, dancers and prostitutes surrounding the Hippodrome of Constantinople, Theodora scales to the heights of imperial power with tenacity and determination. But she always appears as a figure of her age, immersed in the complex and often bewildering culture and society of the 6th century AD. Duffy uses the travails of Theodora’s life to take us on a tour of the eastern Mediterranean, from the slums and palaces of Constantinople to the desert monasteries of Egypt. It’s an engaging tale of rags to riches, to rags again to riches again, and remains scrupulously close to the few historical sources that survive, while…

By Stella Duffy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two of the most famous mosaics from the ancient world, in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna, depict the sixth-century emperor Justinian and, on the wall facing him, his wife, Theodora (497-548). This majestic portrait gives no inkling of Theodora's very humble beginnings or her improbable rise to fame and power. Raised in a family of circus performers near Constantinople's Hippodrome, she abandoned a successful acting career in her late teens to follow a lover whom
she was legally forbidden to marry. When he left her, she was a single mother who built a new life for herself as…


Book cover of A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening

Ian Ross Author Of War at the Edge of the World

From my list on novels set in the later Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ian Ross was born in England and studied painting before turning to writing fiction. He has been researching the later Roman empire and its army for over a decade, and his interests combine an obsessive regard for accuracy and detail with a devotion to the craft of storytelling. His six-novel Twilight of Empire series follows the career of Aurelius Castus as he rises from the ranks of the legions to the dangerous summit of military power, against the background of a Roman world in crisis.

Ian's book list on novels set in the later Roman Empire

Ian Ross Why did Ian love this book?

The setting for this book is only marginally late Roman, but the picture it evokes, of the shadows lengthening over the classical world, is entirely appropriate. Our hero Lucius is the duumvir, or leading magistrate, of a provincial city in Lusitania at the end of the 2nd century AD. Cultured and urbane, devoted to the classical traditions and philosophies of Rome, Lucius is disturbed both by the appearance of a fervent sect of Christians in his city, and by rumours of an approaching horde of Moorish barbarians. With conflict both within the city and without, and the daughter of the richest citizen turning to the new religion, Lucius soon finds his nerves stretched and his ideals questioned. As the barbarians surround the city walls, and Lucius tries to repel their assault with his ragged band of militia, the duumvir’s faith in his own civilisation is tested to destruction. A God…

By Mario De Carvalho, Gregory Rabassa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Portuguese Writers' Association Grand Prize for Fiction and the Pegasus Prize for Literature, and a best-seller in Portugal, Mario de Carvalho's A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening is a vivid and affecting historical novel set at the twilight of the Roman Empire and the dawn of the Christian era. Lucius Valerius Quintius is prefect of the fictitious city of Tarcisis, charged to defend it against menaces from without -- Moors invading the Iberian peninsula -- and from within -- the decadent complacency of the Pax Romana. Lucius's devotion to civic duty undergoes its most…


Book cover of At the Ruin of the World

Ian Ross Author Of War at the Edge of the World

From my list on novels set in the later Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ian Ross was born in England and studied painting before turning to writing fiction. He has been researching the later Roman empire and its army for over a decade, and his interests combine an obsessive regard for accuracy and detail with a devotion to the craft of storytelling. His six-novel Twilight of Empire series follows the career of Aurelius Castus as he rises from the ranks of the legions to the dangerous summit of military power, against the background of a Roman world in crisis.

Ian's book list on novels set in the later Roman Empire

Ian Ross Why did Ian love this book?

The end of the Roman Empire in the west is a fascinating but notoriously vague saga, which often seems to be composed entirely of footnotes. In this novel John Henry Clay takes a handful of those footnotes and rebuilds mid 5th century Gaul and Italy on a grand scale. The empire is on its knees, but the aristocratic elites of the southern provinces are still living the good life on their villa estates, until all is thrown into turmoil by the invasion of Attila and his Huns. Part family drama, part broad-canvas military and political epic, the first half of the novel reaches a climax in the defeat of the Hunnic hordes by General Aetius. But in its second half the story accelerates dramatically, as Avitus, the father of the central pair of characters, leads a Romano-Gothic army from Gaul to seize power in Rome. The ramifications of Avitus’s bid…

By John Henry Clay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A.D. 448. The Roman Empire is crumbling.

The Emperor is weak. Countless Romans live under the rule of barbarian kings. Politicians scheme and ambitious generals vie for power.

Then from the depths of Germany arises an even darker threat: Attila, King of the Huns, gathering his hordes and determined to crush Rome once and for all.

In a time of danger and deception, where every smile conceals betrayal and every sleeve a dagger, three young people hold onto the dream that Rome can be made great once more. But as their fates collide, they find themselves forced to survive in…


Book cover of Constantius II: Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Charles Matson Odahl Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Crawford, a specialist in ancient history and religion, offers a detailed and readable account of the life and reign of Constantine's longest surviving son and successor in the mid-4th century (A.D. 324-361). Often criticized by ancient sources and modern scholars alike for not being as great a soldier as his father and for favoring Arian-leaning bishops, the author tries to rehabilitate the reputation of Constantius as a capable ruler in difficult times.

By Peter Crawford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The reign of Constantius II has been overshadowed by that of his titanic father, Constantine the Great, and his cousin and successor, the pagan Julian. However, as Peter Crawford shows, Constantius deserves to be remembered as a very capable ruler in dangerous, tumultuous times. When Constantine I died in in 337, the twenty-year-old Constantius and his two brothers, Constans and Constantine II, all recieved the title of Augustus to reign as equal co-emperors. In 340, however, Constantine II was killed in a fraternal civil war with Constans. The two remaining brothers shared the Empire for the next ten years, with…


Book cover of A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities

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 book provides an exemplary hour-by-hour guide to what life was like for a citizen of Rome at the height of its power. I love that Angela not only gives us the high-society angle, bringing us into the lush gardens and sumptuous homes of Rome’s wealthy and powerful, but also the crowded apartments and streets that were home to the vast majority of the ancient city’s citizens. You walk alongside them, getting a ground-level view of the patterns of a normal day in all its mundane details, from clothing to food to labor to entertainment, rendered in fascinating prose.

By Alberto Angela, Gregory Conti (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The wondrous extravagance of banquets where flamingos are roasted whole and wine flows like rivers. The roar of frenzied spectators inside the Colosseum during a battle between gladiators. A crowd of onlookers gathered at a slave auction. The silent baths and the boisterous taverns...Many books have dealt with the history of ancient Rome, but none has been able to so engage its readers in the daily life of the Imperial capital.

This extraordinary armchair tour, guided by Alberto Angela with the charm of a born storyteller, lasts twenty-four hours, beginning at dawn on an ordinary day in the year 115…


Book cover of Age of Conquests: The Greek World from Alexander to Hadrian

Kathryn Lomas Author Of The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars

From my list on the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a lifelong fascination for history and archaeology. Following a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology (University of Edinburgh), and a brief period as a field archaeologist, I undertook a PhD (University of Newcastle) researching the history of Greek settlement in southern Italy. My subsequent career has been devoted to the study of ancient Italy and Sicily, with a specific focus on the development of ethnic and cultural identities, and the formation of urban societies. I have held posts at several UK universities, including research fellowships at UCL, a lectureship at the University of Newcastle, and I am currently a part-time lecturer and Honorary Fellow at the University of Durham.

Kathryn's book list on the ancient Mediterranean

Kathryn Lomas Why did Kathryn love this book?

The later period of Greek history, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, is considerably less well known that the history of Classical Greece, but it was a fascinating period that radically changed the society and culture of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. This book covers the period of Alexander's conquests, the fragmentation of his empire into multiple kingdoms after his death, and the Roman conquest and domination of the Greek world.

It outlines the rise and fall of dynasties and kingdoms, the Roman conquest, and the transformation of the region, firstly by the Greek culture promoted by Alexander and his successors, and then by Roman rule. It provides an accessible and informative narrative of a period in which the Middle East and Greek world underwent transformational changes.

By Angelos Chaniotis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world that Alexander remade in his lifetime was transformed once more by his death in 323 BCE. His successors reorganized Persian lands to create a new empire stretching from the eastern Mediterranean as far as present-day Afghanistan, while in Greece and Macedonia a fragile balance of power repeatedly dissolved into war. Then, from the late third century BCE to the end of the first, Rome's military and diplomatic might successively dismantled these post-Alexandrian political structures, one by one.

During the Hellenistic period (c. 323-30 BCE), small polities struggled to retain the illusion of their identity and independence, in the…


Book cover of Rome: An Empire's Story

Eve MacDonald Author Of Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life

From my list on Carthage and Hannibal in the Ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist and ancient historian, originally from Canada but living in London in the UK. I teach and write and excavate the ancient world and have worked both in the Mediterranean in Italy and North Africa and in the ancient near east, in Iran, and in Oman. I try to understand how the ancient world worked, both the history and the material culture, and how much it impacts us still today. Hannibal was such a crucial figure in this world just as it was forming, and he was from Africa, was Carthaginian, and we have lost so much knowledge of him and his culture.  

Eve's book list on Carthage and Hannibal in the Ancient Mediterranean

Eve MacDonald Why did Eve love this book?

This is a great read on the way that Rome became an empire. It puts the whole story of the city of Rome and what it developed into (i.e. the biggest power of the ancient world and a paradigm for many empires that followed) into context and into the history of the Mediterranean world. The book is so useful to read because it is well written and contemporary, but it also helps us to understand Hannibal. This is because Rome's version of Carthage and Hannibal is the only version that we have to deal with, Hannibal in many ways becomes a reflection of Roman ideas of their own imperialism.

By Greg Woolf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rome in the archaic age was a minor satellite between the Etruscan and Greek world. This book traces the expansion of Roman influence first within Italy, then around the Mediterranean world and finally, at breakneck speed, deep into Europe, out to the Atlantic, along the edge of the Sahara and down the Red Sea. But there had been other empires that had expanded rapidily: what made Rome remarkable was that it managed to sustain its position for so long. Rome's Fall poses less of a mystery than its survival. Understanding how this happens involves understanding the building blocks of imperial…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Jeremiah McCall Author Of Rivalries that Destroyed the Roman Republic

From my list on exploring the Roman Republic and its collapse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and history teacher in Ohio with a passion for studying the endlessly fascinating Roman Republic. It was a time when many believed the gods walked the earth, when legend and reality mixed. The resulting stories lure us with their strangeness while reminding us of our modern world. For me, no topic in the Republic captures this paradox of strangeness and familiarity more than the political systems of the Republic. Our very ideas about representative democracy come from the Romans. But the legacy is deeper. In Roman politicians’ thirst for votes and victory, their bitter rivalries we can, perhaps, see the dangers of excessive political competition today.

Jeremiah's book list on exploring the Roman Republic and its collapse

Jeremiah McCall Why did Jeremiah love this book?

Dynasty is just a good historical read, one I enjoyed thoroughly. This is the place to go for a readable researched, thoroughly engaging story of the final collapse of the Republic under Caesar and how his heirs ushered in a new political system. The pivotal period where Octavian, adopted son of murdered Gaius Julius Caesar, survived in a cutthroat political and military arena and made himself Princeps, the first emperor, is just fascinating. The subsequent men and women of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and all of their political, and sometimes murderous, machinations come to life under Holland’s pen. An excellent choice for navigating imperial politics, often family politics.

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'This is a wonderful, surging narrative - a brilliant and meticulous synthesis of the ancient sources . . . This is a story that should be read by anyone interested in history, politics or human nature - and it has never been better told' - Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday

Rome was first ruled by kings, then became a republic. But in the end, after conquering the world, the Republic collapsed. Rome was drowned in blood. So terrible were the civil wars that the Roman people finally came to welcome the rule of an autocrat who could give them peace.…


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