75 books like Ironfire

By David Ball,

Here are 75 books that Ironfire fans have personally recommended if you like Ironfire. 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 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.


Book cover of Cloud of Sparrows

William Havelock Author Of The Last Dying Light

From my list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by how societies conduct war. Who is expected to fight, and how are they organized? How is technology developed, implemented, and improvised in the heat of battle? And, most importantly, how do its participants make sense of the carnage around them? History is replete with tales of savagery and courage, of honor and depravity. Perilously few of these have been formed into novels, leaving an incomplete and disjointed understanding of thousands of years of struggle. Many authors, including those listed here, paved the path for holistic depictions of historical battle fiction – my hope is to contribute tales from oft-neglected societies, beginning with Belisarius and the 6th-Century Roman Empire.

William's book list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle

William Havelock Why did William love this book?

Some might buck at describing Cloud of Sparrows as ‘premodern battle’ – after all, it describes events of the mid-19th Century! However, Takashi Matsuoka’s novel is a soulful retelling of the Bakumatsu, or the twilight of the Tokugawa shogunate as Japan was violently pushed into the age of gunpowder.

Cloud of Sparrows is richly detailed in combat amongst a fading samurai culture. Descriptions abound of the all-important Battle of Sekigahara, which had established the Tokugawa shogunate over two centuries prior. More immediate attention is paid to countless duels amongst the retainers of Genji, the Great Lord of Akaoka, who struggle to uphold antiquated notions of honor as Japan’s warrior class confronts gunpowder and cannon. Even the most experienced historical fiction writer will learn from Matsuoka’s descriptions of blades and bows.

By Takashi Matsuoka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Warrior clans nursing ancient grudges. Western missionaries brandishing pistols. Beautiful geishas who are deadly ninjas.

1861 - after two centuries of isolation Japan has been forced to open its doors. Now new influences are tearing apart the old order. Japan is as unprepared for outsiders as missionaries are for samurai assassins, executions and honour killings. Genji's life is at risk. He plans his escape to the Cloud of Sparrows but the road is long and there are many places along the way for brutal samurai to attack -The demons of the past, the treachery of the present, an uncertain future…


Book cover of Warlock

William Havelock Author Of The Last Dying Light

From my list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by how societies conduct war. Who is expected to fight, and how are they organized? How is technology developed, implemented, and improvised in the heat of battle? And, most importantly, how do its participants make sense of the carnage around them? History is replete with tales of savagery and courage, of honor and depravity. Perilously few of these have been formed into novels, leaving an incomplete and disjointed understanding of thousands of years of struggle. Many authors, including those listed here, paved the path for holistic depictions of historical battle fiction – my hope is to contribute tales from oft-neglected societies, beginning with Belisarius and the 6th-Century Roman Empire.

William's book list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle

William Havelock Why did William love this book?

Wilbur Smith, who sadly passed in November 2021, trailblazed adventure writing. While The River God is perhaps his most memorable entry in his Ancient Egypt series, Warlock is stuffed with descriptions of military training and combat. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Red Road’ sequence – while not battle-focused, Mr. Smith took pains to unpack the various modes of fighting available to contemporary Bronze Age Egyptians.

Smith’s detailing of chariot-centered battle would satisfy everyone from engineers to historians - particularly in Warlock’s climax. Javelins and bows hurtling from hundreds of chariots makes for a unique style of combat that is difficult to acquire elsewhere – as is the struggles of engaging in mass military operations when surrounded by desert.

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

BOOK 3 IN THE BESTSELLING ANCIENT EGYPT SERIES, BY THE MASTER OF ADVENTURE, WILBUR SMITH

'Best historical novelist' - Stephen King

'A master storyteller' - Sunday Times

'Wilbur Smith is one of those benchmarks against whom others are compared' - The Times

'No one does adventure quite like Smith' - Daily Mirror

A RULER DRIVEN BY GREED
THE FUTURE OF EGYPT AT STAKE
ONLY ONE MAN HAS THE POWER TO RESTORE BALANCE

In his long life, Taita has gone from slave to warlock, and now his wisdom and abilities are known throughout the kingdom. But even his immense skills cannot…


Book cover of Lords of the Bow

William Havelock Author Of The Last Dying Light

From my list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by how societies conduct war. Who is expected to fight, and how are they organized? How is technology developed, implemented, and improvised in the heat of battle? And, most importantly, how do its participants make sense of the carnage around them? History is replete with tales of savagery and courage, of honor and depravity. Perilously few of these have been formed into novels, leaving an incomplete and disjointed understanding of thousands of years of struggle. Many authors, including those listed here, paved the path for holistic depictions of historical battle fiction – my hope is to contribute tales from oft-neglected societies, beginning with Belisarius and the 6th-Century Roman Empire.

William's book list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle

William Havelock Why did William love this book?

Conn Iggulden is no stranger to historical battle fiction. Like others on this list, at least a dozen other novels could have been selected in this spot. Yet, Lords of the Bow expresses a savage bleakness in Genghis Khan’s earliest campaigns against the Xi Xia and Jin that will linger in the mind of any reader.

Mr. Iggulden’s writing regarding the Battle of Badger’s Mouth is incredible – not only for the complexities of the Mongol-Jin battle but equally due to Mr. Iggulden’s use of terrain and weather to raise tension. The battle is brief on the page, and overtaken by the extensive preparations of the Mongol and Jin armies immediately prior to combat, yet Badger’s Mouth leaves a distinct impression in a vast and growing sea of military historical fiction.

By Conn Iggulden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lords of the Bow 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?

The brand new novel from the No.1 bestselling author of Emperor, his series on Julius Caesar. The second in the bestselling new Conqueror series on Genghis Khan, it is a wonderful, epic story which Conn Iggulden brings brilliantly to life. The gathering of the tribes of the Mongols has been a long time in coming but finally, triumphantly, Temujin of the Wolves, Genghis Khan, is given the full accolade of the overall leader and their oaths. Now he can begin to meld all the previously warring people into one army, one nation. But the task Genghis has set himself and…


Book cover of The Religion

Theodore Irvin Silar Author Of Lady Grace's Revels: A Tale of Elizabethan England

From my list on fiction set in the 16th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University, and I have taught English for 30 years. I have studied and taught Shakespeare, Tudor drama, English linguistics, the Reformation, and various other aspects in the literary and cultural history of the 16th century. The 16th century is a time of great upheaval and the more I study it, the more I am fascinated by how pivotal this epoch is in the creation of the modern world, for better and for worse. I seek out books that chart, from grandest to most intimate, this momentous time’s transformations.

Theodore's book list on fiction set in the 16th century

Theodore Irvin Silar Why did Theodore love this book?

The Religion is a harrowing, jaw-dropping narrative I think everybody should read. That the 1565 Great Siege of Malta that stopped the Ottomans in the West is so unknown is unwarranted. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sends an army to conquer Malta, an island owned by the Knights Hospitaller, a Catholic military order.

Mattias Tannhauser, a former janissary, ends up fighting with the Maltese Knights, against former comrades, for a Hospitaller leader he must murder, while the Inquisition welcomes the Hospitallers’ downfall: a glorious mess of cross-purposes for those who like plot twists. The Religion delivers an overwhelming immersion in a momentous event described in colorful, dramatic prose.

By Tim Willocks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Their god is War. And every god needs his Devil. THE RELIGION

Malta, 1565. The greatest war the world has ever seen is unleashed on the doomed island as the Turks do battle with the Knights. The Knights call themselves The Religion. The Turks call them the Hounds of Hell.

Back in Sicily, the beautiful, rich Carla pines for her bastard son, lost in the bloody inferno across the water.

Enter Mattias Tannhauser - warrior, hero and double agent. Under Carla's command, he embarks on a death-defying mission to save her son. But can he evade the Inquisition and escape…


Book cover of Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580

Andrew R. Novo Author Of Restoring Thucydides: Testing Familiar Lessons and Deriving New Ones

From my list on history that resonates across time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian who teaches strategic studies at the National Defense University and Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I'm fascinated by how we write and teach history, how we interpret it, and how we use it. To use history, we have to “get it right,” but we also have to think about how the past impacts the present. One of the foremost challenges confronting historians is how to write the history of their particular subject well while making it applicable (and interesting) more universally. The following books are all particular to the region I study most closely—the Eastern Mediterranean—but their grasp of humanity is profound. Their power and perspectives ring true across millennia.

Andrew's book list on history that resonates across time and place

Andrew R. Novo Why did Andrew love this book?

This book is an extraordinary synthesis of half a century of history (c. 1520-1571) as European powers and the Ottoman Empire fought for control of the Mediterranean Sea. Empires of the Sea focuses on a number of momentous military engagements, the Siege of Rhodes (1522), the Siege of Malta (1565), the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1570-1), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Crowley writes like an artist evoking the colors and textures of the brilliant seventeenth-century amid a world of emperors, sultans, popes, and pirates. He manages to capture both the extraordinary individuals who shaped momentous events through their personalities and the broader historical trends that led to the defeat of Ottoman expansion during the 16th century and shaped the contours of Europe as we know it today.

By Roger Crowley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Empires of the Sea shows the Mediterranean as a majestic and bloody theatre of war. Opening with the Ottoman victory in 1453 it is a breathtaking story of military crusading, Barbary pirates, white slavery and the Ottoman Empire - and the larger picture of the struggle between Islam and Christianity. Coupled with dramatic set piece battles, a wealth of riveting first-hand accounts, epic momentum and a terrific denouement at Lepanto, this is a work of history at its broadest and most compelling.


Book cover of Image and Exploration: Early Travel Photography from 1850 to 1914

John Wilson Author Of Places not Paisley: Photographic Peregrinations: Book 3, The Ruined World

From my list on travel photography books that make the past come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of 50+ books of historical fiction and non-fiction for kids, teens, and adults I am handicapped by being unable to travel in time or go to the places I set my stories. I have long used photography as an attempt to capture a sense of places and the people who inhabit them, but I gradually realized that my images were not simply an adjunct to the stories I was telling but that the best of them had their own tales to tell. Through photographs, jumbled piles of stone became a gateway to a lost, magical past and a trigger for my imagination.

John's book list on travel photography books that make the past come alive

John Wilson Why did John love this book?

Not only am I enthralled by the large images of lost places and people, but I am in awe of the fact that the photographers even reached some of the wildest places on earth with over a hundred pounds of camera equipment and boxes of mostly poisonous chemicals.

I will never again complain about sitting in the cold or the heat with my lightweight 35mm camera, waiting for the lighting to be just right.

By Olivier Loiseaux (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the second half of the 19th century, unprecedented advances in technology resulted in the collision of travel and photography. Explorers were able to document their journeys, hauling enormous amounts of equipment over arduous terrain. The results were breathtaking. This collection of photographs takes readers on a historic global tour that includes five continents and offers a visible record of worlds long-since vanished. Beginning in North Africa amid the pyramids and along the Nile, this book takes readers down through the Sahara to South Africa via Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Zanzibar. The journey continues from South to North America, capturing images…


Book cover of The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Author Of The Last Treaty: Lausanne and the End of the First World War in the Middle East

From my list on World War I and the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I teach and write about topics ranging from feminism to World War. I became interested in the history of the Armenian Genocide because my grandmother was a survivor. Other books I’ve written include: Women Making News: Gender and Journalism in Modern Britain; Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide and the Birth of the Middle East and The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide. 

Michelle's book list on World War I and the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Why did Michelle love this book?

This magisterial and sweeping history explains why the Ottomans went to war on the side of the Central Powers and how they failed to achieve victory. It discusses the military confrontations and battlefront traumas that resulted from the decision to go to war against the Allies in 1914 in a highly readable and engaging style.

By Eugene Rogan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By 1914 the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. In The Fall of the Ottomans, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region's crucial role in the conflict. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia,…


Book cover of When the War Came Home: The Ottomans' Great War and the Devastation of an Empire

Michelle Tusan Author Of The Last Treaty: Lausanne and the End of the First World War in the Middle East

From my list on World War I and the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I teach and write about topics ranging from feminism to World War. I became interested in the history of the Armenian Genocide because my grandmother was a survivor. Other books I’ve written include: Women Making News: Gender and Journalism in Modern Britain; Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide and the Birth of the Middle East and The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide. 

Michelle's book list on World War I and the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Why did Michelle love this book?

Reading this book you will come to understand the extent of the suffering brought on by World War I to Ottoman society.

I particularly like Akin’s retelling of the experience of ordinary people who lived through the ordeal. Accounts of the war by soldiers and survivors of the nearly decade-long conflict that engulfed Ottoman lands add texture and shape to the military narrative that began in 1914 and only came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

By Yiğit Akın,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When the War Came Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ottoman Empire was unprepared for the massive conflict of World War I. Lacking the infrastructure and resources necessary to wage a modern war, the empire's statesmen reached beyond the battlefield to sustain their war effort. They placed unprecedented hardships onto the shoulders of the Ottoman people: mass conscription, a state-controlled economy, widespread food shortages, and ethnic cleansing. By war's end, few aspects of Ottoman daily life remained untouched.

When the War Came Home reveals the catastrophic impact of this global conflict on ordinary Ottomans. Drawing on a wide range of sources-from petitions, diaries, and newspapers to folk songs and…


Book cover of In the Cause of Humanity: A History of Humanitarian Intervention in the Long Nineteenth Century

Julia F. Irwin Author Of Catastrophic Diplomacy: US Foreign Disaster Assistance in the American Century

From my list on the origins of modern humanitarianism and its consequences for the contemporary world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and professor in Louisiana, in the southern United States. When I was an undergraduate in college (many years ago!), I embraced the opportunity to study diverse subjects, ranging from the natural sciences to the humanities. I became fascinated by medicine and health and their relationship to history, society, and international relations–and have remained fascinated ever since. These interests led me to study humanitarianism and its place in 20th-century US foreign relations and international history. Over the years, I have researched and written two books and more than 20 articles on these subjects, and I love sharing this history with readers and students alike.

Julia's book list on the origins of modern humanitarianism and its consequences for the contemporary world

Julia F. Irwin Why did Julia love this book?

This book opened my eyes to the long and fraught history of humanitarian interventions–that is, military operations conducted in the name of protecting people from harm and suffering.

In recent decades, we have witnessed fierce debates over the legitimacy of these activities (in places like Rwanda, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria). Yet, as this book persuasively shows, such concerns are nothing new. Across the nineteenth century, government leaders and citizens debated–and undertook–many so-called “wars for humanity.”

With examples stretching from the Middle East to Africa to the Americas, this book raises provocative and important ethical questions about humanitarianism and human rights, both historically and today.

By Fabian Klose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Cause of Humanity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Cause of Humanity is a major new history of the emergence of the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention during the nineteenth century when the question of whether, when and how the international community should react to violations of humanitarian norms and humanitarian crises first emerged as a key topic of controversy and debate. Fabian Klose investigates the emergence of legal debates on the protection of humanitarian norms by violent means, revealing how military intervention under the banner of humanitarianism became closely intertwined with imperial and colonial projects. Through case studies including the international fight against the slave…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Ottoman Empire, Malta, and Turkey?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Ottoman Empire, Malta, and Turkey.

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