100 books like Excalibur

By Bernard Cornwell,

Here are 100 books that Excalibur fans have personally recommended if you like Excalibur. 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 Lord of the Silver Bow

Luciana Cavallaro Author Of Search for the Golden Serpent

From my list on fantasy that blends the past and the imaginary.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my teens, I read a book by Charles Berlitz titled Atlantis: the lost continent. I was enthralled and fascinated about this lost race of people, who were technically and sophisticated advance society and on one fateful day, vanished. My appetite for Greek mythology and ancient history grew from there, and I wanted to learn more about various ancient cultures and their mythologies. I eventually studied ancient history and continue my education as new archaeological discoveries and advancements are made. It wasn’t until a trip to Europe and seeing the Roman Forum and Colosseum, that I was inspired to write and combine my love for mythology and ancient history into historical fiction fantasy.

Luciana's book list on fantasy that blends the past and the imaginary

Luciana Cavallaro Why did Luciana love this book?

I’m cheating a little here by recommending a trilogy but this was one of the best historical fiction I’ve read.

The series is about Prince Aeneas and the legendary story of the war between the Trojans and the Greeks. David Gemmell sets the scene prior to war from the POV of Aeneas, who was regarded as pirate but as the story progresses you learn more about his actions and why he keeps roaming the sea.

It is full of action and stays true to the unfolding drama of the Trojan War. For me, the historical backdrop and the research the author included was one of the main reasons this series wins.

By David Gemmell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Lord of the Silver Bow 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…


Book cover of The Blade Itself

Ashton Macaulay Author Of Whiteout: A Nick Ventner Adventure

From my list on heroes you love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about flawed characters as a reflex. I’m more interested in exploring the journey of an alcoholic monster hunter with literal and figurative demons than a white knight. Throughout my life, I’ve seen the effects of substance abuse up close, and while difficult, it helped me find the humanity in flaws. I choose to write about those flaws with a humorous bend, because life is far too long to go through without jokes. As a result, I gravitate towards pithy antiheroes and dark comedy. To feel a character’s pain is human, to laugh in the midst of their darkest moments is divine.

Ashton's book list on heroes you love to hate

Ashton Macaulay Why did Ashton love this book?

Here is yet another book where at first it seems as though there are no heroes.

Abercrombie writes a masterful world filled with magic, politics, swordfights, and bleak attitudes. One of the main POV characters is a torturer—I mean a full-on break your toes and laugh about it torturer—but even still, I found myself wanting more of his story. He’s certainly not a hero, but he was at one point, and that’s even more intriguing.

The characters drive this fantasy series, but the world is also a gorgeous setting that Abercrombie clearly spent many long nights thinking through. Every detail feels like it matters, and throughout this trilogy, the smallest specks of plot come back to matter.

On top of it all, I loved the audiobook narrator and his particular performances for each character brought the world to life.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

10 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…


Book cover of The Forgotten Legion

Adam Lofthouse Author Of The Centurion’s Son

From my list on inspired me to start writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became obsessed with the ancient world at around seventeen, and have spent the subsequent years researching and gathering knowledge on all aspects of ancient life. It was through fiction that this love first blossomed and the yearning for books has not yet ceased. In 2015 I decided I didn’t want to just be a reader anymore, and I began work on what would in 2017 become my debut novel, The Centurion’s Son. I have no plans to stop any time soon.

Adam's book list on inspired me to start writing

Adam Lofthouse Why did Adam love this book?

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

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…


The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

Book cover of The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

Andy Darby Author Of Me and The Monkey

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fantasy lover Psychonaut Cat dad Designer Metalhead

Andy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come ushering in Revelation, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality.

But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar and her giant Dutch comrade are forced to journey to the war-ravaged Spanish Netherlands on a quest that will reveal the truth about strange entities that use humans to fight out their eternal conflicts and in doing so alter Lament and the course of history forever.

The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

What is this book about?

Infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar awaits execution in the Tower of London, charged with heresy and attempted regicide, but all is not as it seems. Unwittingly entangled in the schemes of the Angels, she recounts her tale to the Queen's sorcerer, Dr Dee, who is more than a little responsible for her predicament.

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality. But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, Lament and her…


Book cover of The Gates of Rome

Trevor P. Kwain Author Of The Wynnman and the Black Azalea

From my list on turning history upside down.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is nearly always relegated to heavy tomes and stuffy museum rooms. Learning about our past seems no longer important, and we keep promoting it in such uncool and unsexy ways. I feel any of our histories, with either a capital or lower case ‘h’, whether focused on big world events or local life, deserve to be told in a special kind of way, with that sprinkle of “magic realism” only fiction authors can deliver. Alternative history, historical fiction, magic fabulism, they are the sides of the same dice creating new, different stories inspired by our collective memory of things that have happened. These books touch this topic so dear to me.

Trevor's book list on turning history upside down

Trevor P. Kwain Why did Trevor love this book?

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.

By Conn Iggulden,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gates of Rome 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…


Book cover of The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

This was one of the first Arthurian reference books and remains one of the best.

Its comprehensive scope, covering Arthurian legends and characters across many European literatures, provides answers to all possible questions about the world of Arthur. The format of short alphabetical entries is perfect for browsing – you will find all you need to know about the Bleeding Lance or the ‘Gargantuan Chronicles’ among many other lesser-known Arthurian curiosities.

I found this book invaluable when I was preparing my own book and I still dip into it when teaching students.

By Norris J Lacy (editor), Geoffrey Ashe (editor), Sandra Ness Ihle (editor) , Marianne E. Kalinke (editor) , Raymond H. Thompson (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discusses the literary, musical, and film versions of the story of King Arthur and surveys the characters, themes, and history of the Arthur legend


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

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

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…

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.'


Book cover of The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

I love this description of the power that the Arthurian legends exerted in nineteenth-century Britain and its cultural imagination.

With the re-printing of Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, poets, writers, and artists were inspired by these tales of chivalry and sacrifice at a time when the British Empire was at its height and ideals of service, governance, and personal endeavour were central to norms of masculinity.

Girouard perfectly captures the mood of the times and shows us why the vision of Camelot, doomed in its own Arthurian context, was even more flawed, and yet magnetic, in the context of empire.

By Mark Girouard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

. 1981, bright clean copy, with dustjacket, no markings, Professional booksellers since 1981


Book cover of The History of the Kings of Britain

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of By Force Alone

RJ Hore Author Of The Dark Lady

From my list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

An avid reader, and a spec-fiction/fantasy reviewer for CM Canada online, I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I write “pantser-style” and let the characters run loose, looking at their motivation to steer the tale, often starting with little more than an idea and, if lucky, a character or two. My love of history led me to writing mediaeval or historical fantasy, as my first group of published novels attest, but to avoid stagnation added science fiction and a fantasy detective series of novellas. To date have fourteen novels and three anthologies of my novellas published and have appeared on panels at several cons.

RJ's book list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul

RJ Hore Why did RJ love this book?

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 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…


Book cover of The Winter King

Murray Dahm Author Of Finis Britanniae: A Military History of Late Roman Britain and the Saxon Conquest

From my list on thinking about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved stories about King Arthur–what’s not to love–Arthurian stories are about the underdog triumphing, destiny, knights and quests, swords (and stones, or lakes), great heroes and villains, and magic. My university studies made me into a military historian (among other things–including an opera singer and a historian of film), and I loved revisiting my love of Arthur in various guises. I have sung him on stage, played him in roleplaying games and miniature wargames, and I have written articles and books about him in film and history. I hope my list of recommendations provokes you to think about King Arthur in new ways!

Murray's book list on thinking about King Arthur

Murray Dahm Why did Murray love this book?

There have been too many novels featuring the story of King Arthur to count; this is my favorite. I found it (and the following two books in the series) really captured the idea of who Arthur was, why he was needed, and why he did what he did at the time for me.

It was the first Cornwell novel I read, and he has become my favourite novellist. I think he writes battle scenes better than anyone–he puts you in the middle of the action and makes you feel the visceral nature of combat (especially in his Arthurian and medieval books). If anyone is looking for a place to start with Arthurian fiction but doesn’t know where to begin, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and series. 

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

13 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in King Arthur, Celtic Britons, and London?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about King Arthur, Celtic Britons, and London.

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