10 books like Excalibur

By Bernard Cornwell,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Excalibur. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Troy

By David Gemmell,

Book cover of Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow

No list of mine would be complete without a title from my favourite author; but the Troy trilogy is a bittersweet masterpieceGemmell died before it was completed. Thankfully, his wife took up the work from his extensive notes and it’s graciously unclear as to where in the final book the transition is made. She captured his voice tremendously.

As a lover of the Classics, it didn’t take long for me to get fully immersed in this reimagining of Homer’s Iliad, with the excellent characterisation and worldbuilding you’d expect from Gemmell. It also incorporates echoes of the author’s love of biblical stories (playing on the claims to a potential overlap in the chronology) and ancient Roman literatureespecially the Aeneid (Virgil’s attempt to appropriate for Rome the legacy of Troy). If you enjoy epic historical fiction/fantasy, this is an absolute must-read. The research is clear, the passion for…

Troy

By David Gemmell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Three lives will change the destiny of nations. Hellkaon, the young prince of Dardania, haunted by a scarred and traumatic childhood. The priestess Andromache, whose fiery spirit and fierce Independence threatens the might of kings. And the legendary warrior Argurios, cloaked in loneliness and driven only by thoughts of revenge. In Troy they find a city torn apart by destructive rivalries - a maelstrom of jealousy, deceit and murderous treachery. And beyond its fabled walls blood-hungry enemies eye its riches and plot its downfall. It is a time of bravery and betrayal; a time of bloodshed and fear. A time…


The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of The Blade Itself

Not many writers pick a crippled torturer for a protagonist, let alone a privileged, cowardly, and selfish minor noble. Abercrombie doesn’t just start with these two, he also adds a sometimes psychopathic barbarian and a misanthropic, racist woman as his characters. Don’t even get me started on the old wizard. He’s the worst of all. Not only do these characters seem unheroic, but they also act as if they might just kill each other rather than move the plot of the novel along. Never a burden, always delightful, The Blade Itself will mesmerize you as these murderers and narcissists try to do just one thing right. Whether they do or not, I won’t say, but they definitely tell a fantastic tale.

The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Blade Itself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior…


The Forgotten Legion

By Ben Kane,

Book cover of The Forgotten Legion

Ben instantly became one of my favourite authors after this. It’s not often you can feel an author’s passion for their work, but it shone from every page in this book. I was already hooked on ancient Rome, but I just found this stood out amongst its peers. Ben didn’t concentrate on the generals and senators that would write their names into history, but on the everyday soldiers that lived by the edge of their sword. It is a book I will certainly never forget

The Forgotten Legion

By Ben Kane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Forgotten Legion - fighting for honour, freedom and revenge

Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen years old they are sold - Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul, his entire family killed by the Romans, and he rises to become one of the most…


Emperor

By Conn Iggulden,

Book cover of Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar

Reliving the lives of two famous Romans in a new fictional light is what makes this five-book series a dazzling example of magical realism. The entire settings, that is Ancient Rome during the Republic, is real and has existed in the form it is presented. The characters, though, have taken on a more personal shape, independent from the historical image we know. Caesar and Brutus become larger-than-life characters, allowing more to be told about them, their feelings, their ambitions, and giving us a version of them we may never read in history books. We become closer to them, and try to understand them more as human beings engulfed by history rather than historical figures. It is an unparalleled humanisation of history through fiction.

Emperor

By Conn Iggulden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ultimate Rome story

From the spectacle of gladiatorial combat to the intrigue of the Senate, from the foreign wars that secure the power of the empire to the betrayals that threaten to tear it apart, this is the remarkable story of the man who would become the greatest Roman of them all: Julius Caesar.

In the city of Rome, a titanic power struggle is about to shake the Republic to its core. Citizen will fight citizen in a bloody conflict - and Julius Caesar, cutting his teeth in battle, will be in the thick of the action.

The first…


The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Winter King

This trilogy presents a clever reimagination of the Arthurian legend which I found delightful, of irreverent. It presents Arthur as a talented warlord protector of the infant King Mordred. Successful at first, Arthur devolves into an anti-hero when he is betrayed by power-hungry Guinevere and Lancelot, and again when Mordred comes of age. Merlin’s magic appears as a combination of plausible manipulation of the physical and the metaphysical with a healthy dose of credulity among the populace.

The pure creativity in this series makes it a keeper and I often refer to these pages for inspiration when writing. The author once declared that this was his personal favorite of the several series he has in publication, and as a fellow author, I can understand why.

The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade. As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the Saxon enemy, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere.


The Age of Arthur

By John Morris,

Book cover of The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650

John Morris was an ancient historian specializing in the later Roman Empire who late in life turned his attention to Dark Age Britain. I only met him very briefly at a conference in the mid-1970s, by which time he was already very ill. He wrote by far his best-known work while presiding over the translation of a host of source materials for early medieval Britain and their publication by Phillimore, all the time fighting his own battle against cancer. He didn’t just accept Arthur as a real historical figure but made him the pivotal figure of British history in the decades around 500, accepting as authoritative all sorts of stories written many hundreds of years later. In so doing he was largely responsible for bringing the Arthurian Period of British history into existence and certainly gave it enormous popular appeal. Rarely has one writer had such an impact on a…

The Age of Arthur

By John Morris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lifetime's scholarship enabled John Morris to recreate a past hitherto hidden in myth and mystery. He describes the Arthurian Age as 'the starting point of future British history', for it saw the transition from Roman Britain to Great Britain, the establishment of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the collapse of the Pax Romana. In exploring political, social, economic, religious and cultural history from the fourth to the seventh century, his theme is one of continuity. That continuity is embodied in Arthur himself: 'in name he was the last Roman Emperor, but he ruled as the first medieval king.'


The History of the Kings of Britain

By Geoffrey of Monmouth, Neil Wright (translator), Michael D. Reeve (editor)

Book cover of The History of the Kings of Britain

Geoffrey’s History of the Kings is the work that picked Arthur up from the somewhat obscure backwater of Welsh story-telling and launched him onto the European stage, in the process creating a story that had an enormous influence on how the insular past was understood across the rest of the Middle Ages. Geoffrey was writing for the new Norman elite, who welcomed a view of the past which downplayed the Anglo-Saxons and centred instead on their rivals for control of ancient Britain, the Britons. He based his magnificent new work on the Historia Brittonum, a set of Welsh genealogies and various stories, all of which he embroidered from his own fertile imagination to construct a complex vision of insular history no closer to what had really happened than modern works such as Lord of the Rings or Star Wars

But by tapping into political and cultural needs in…

The History of the Kings of Britain

By Geoffrey of Monmouth, Neil Wright (translator), Michael D. Reeve (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This imaginative history of the Britons, written in the twelfth century, is the first work to recount the woes of Lear and the glittering career of Arthur. It rapidly became a bestseller in the British Isles and Francophone Europe, with over 200 manuscripts surviving. Here, an authoritative version of the text is presented with a facing translation, prepared especially for the volume. It also contains a full introduction and notes.

MICHAEL REEVEis Kennedy Professor of Latin Emeritus at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge; Dr NEIL WRIGHT is a Senior Language Teaching Officer at the Faculty of History, University…


By Force Alone

By Lavie Tidhar,

Book cover of By Force Alone

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 Force Alone

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…


The Skystone

By Jack Whyte,

Book cover of The Skystone

I had had this book on my shelf for a number of years when, working late at school one night, I took a break and pulled it out to look at it. After reading a few pages, I could hardly wait to get home to read the whole thing, and I don’t think I have ever read a book more quickly. I went on to devour all the novels in Whyte’s series The Camulod Chronicles because his writing is superb. This is historical fiction that grounds the King Arthur legend in the dangerous years of post-Roman Britain. The details are accurate and give realism to a well-known legend while creating characters and scenes you just want to spend time with.

The Skystone

By Jack Whyte,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a time preceding King Arthur and Camelot, two Roman men, Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus, Arthur's great-grandfathers, try to preserve the best of Roman life and build a new culture out of the wreckage of the old and, in doing so, create a legend, in a new edition of the first volume in the


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

What can I say about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court? Seriously, what can I say? I was just a young kid when I read it. I still have the book. But I don’t remember details or have anything insightful that I can say about it. But I do remember being highly entertained and digging the time travel idea. That plot device really caught my imagination and I just have this very vague memory of being transported back to those mythical days as if the book itself were a time portal.

I also remember feeling really at home with Twain’s tongue-in-cheek style of writing. He activated those little satire-loving circuits in my little juvenile brain.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic satiric novel, published in 1889, Hank Morgan, a supervisor in a Connecticut gun factory, falls unconscious after being whacked on the head. When he wakes up he finds himself in Britain in 528 — where he is immediately captured, hauled back to Camelot to be exhibited before the knights of King Arthur's Round Table, and sentenced to death. Things are not looking good.
But Hank is a quick-witted and enterprising fellow, and in the process of saving his life he turns himself into a celebrity of the highest magnitude. His Yankee ingenuity and knowledge of the world…


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