10 books like Master & Commander

By Patrick O'Brian,

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

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In the Heart of the Sea

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

A small lifeboat is spotted off the coast of Chile in 1821, below the gunnels skeletal men cling to a pile of human bones. Nathaniel Philbrick opens his National Book Award-winning story with an almost incomprehensibly brutal scene and rarely takes a breath for the remaining 300-odd pages. Considered to be the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is the true story of a ship stove in by a whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the harrowing survival of some of its crew. 

In the Heart of the Sea

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked In the Heart of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The epic true-life story of one of the most notorious maritime disasters of the nineteenth century - and inspiration for `Moby-Dick' - reissued to accompany a major motion picture due for release in December 2015, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy.

When the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket in 1819, the unthinkable happened. A mere speck in the vast Pacific ocean - and powerless against the forces of nature - Essex was rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale, and her twenty crewmen were forced to take to the open sea…


The Wooden World

By N.A.M. Rodger,

Book cover of The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy

This book is always on my desk when I am writing. Nick Rodger is the greatest living authority on the Age of Sail, with an astounding knowledge of his subject from the grand strategy of fleets down to the daily life of individual sailors. The book is a distillation of a lifetime of careful research into a highly-readable, single volume that lets the reader step through a door into a vanished world.

The Wooden World

By N.A.M. Rodger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meticulously researched, Rodger's portrait draws the reader into this fascinatingly complex world with vivid, entertaining characters and full details of life below the decks. The Wooden World provides the most complete history of a navy at any age, and is sure to be an indispensable volume for all fans of Patrick O'Brian, English history, and naval history.


The Last Kingdom

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Last Kingdom

I’ve read pretty much everything by Bernard Cornwell, but The Last Kingdom (the first in a series of 13 novels) is most definitely my favorite, not only because it takes place during a time of English history I am most familiar with (very early Middle Ages), but because Uthred!! If you’ve seen the Netflix series, you know what I mean. I have a thing for warrior heroes, in case you haven’t noticed, and Uthred is the ultimate. The story is loosely based on a 9th-century warlord named Uthred the Bold—I recently learned that Cornwell is his descendent. Pretty cool. No one writes better historical content than Cornwell, blending fact and fiction so seamlessly, you’d think you were reading a very exciting history book.

The Last Kingdom

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Last Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

In a land torn apart by conflict, an orphan boy has come of age. Raised by the Vikings, deadly enemies of his own Saxon people, Uhtred is a fierce and skilled warrior who kneels to no-one.

Alfred - Saxon, king, man of god - fights to hold the throne of the only land still resisting the pagan northerners.

Uhtred and Alfred's fates are tangled, soaked in blood and blackened…


Sharpe's Tiger

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Sharpe's Tiger

This prequel to the Sharpe series covers the eponymous hero’s adventures in India at the siege of Seringapatam before the Peninsular War. For me, Cornwell’s books are a perfect mix of history and breathless action. This one even features a cameo from Wellington. If only they’d let me read this in history at school, I might have stayed awake more often. Cornwell pays great attention to historical detail, and if he messes with it, he does it deliberately. There are sumptuous palaces, epic battle scenes, rockets exploding, and people getting eaten by tigers. There’s also the deliciously nasty Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. What’s not to love? 

Sharpe's Tiger

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sharpe's Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The brand new novel, SHARPE'S ASSASSIN, is available to pre-order now*

Sharpe's Tiger is the brilliant beginning of Sharpe's adventures

India, 1799

The citadel of Seringapatam is under siege. Navigating this dangerous kingdom of bejewelled palaces and poverty, Private Richard Sharpe embarks on a rescue mission to save a senior officer from the clutches of the Tippoo of Mysore - and oust the Sultan from his throne.

The fortress of Mysore is considered impregnable, but one of the greatest threats comes from betrayal within the British ranks. And the man to outwit enemies from both sides is Sharpe . .…


Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

By C.S. Forester,

Book cover of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

This was the first series of heroic historical fiction I ever read. Forester’s narratives had the power to pull me into the stories as if I was serving alongside Horatio Hornblower.

The series follows the exploits of seventeen-year-old Midshipman Hornblower in 1794 as he rises in rank and responsibilities to flag rank by 1815. During the course of the series, we watch Hornblower mature from an unsure, bookish teenager to become a self-confident and bold commander. Forester’s ability to meld true historical events and personages into his narratives captured me from the start and is a quality that I strive to accomplish in my own writing. I read these books decades ago and still keep them on my bookshelf for when I need inspiration or want to understand how Forester resolved certain authorly issues.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

By C.S. Forester,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Join young Horatio Hornblower in the thrilling naval adventure from the author of The Good Shepherd, now a major-motion picture starring Tom Hanks

'A joyous creation, a perfection in words. Young Hornblower is, simply, one of the most complete creations of character in fiction' Conn Iggulden, The Independent
_______

1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Midshipman Horatio Hornblower receives his first command . . .

As a seventeen-year-old with a touch of sea sickness, young Horatio Hornblower hardly cuts a dash in His Majesty's navy.

Yet from the moment he is ordered to board a French merchant ship…


The Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey,

Book cover of The Daughter of Time

Tey’s fictional detective, Alan Grant, takes a revisionist view of the villainy, immortalized by Shakespeare, of Richard III. Grant is laid up in bed and decides to plumb history for a case; in other words, this is a kind of literary Rear Window. As someone who has taught Richard III many times, I found it to be a refreshing shift in my understanding of the character.

The Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

_________________________
Josephine Tey's classic novel about Richard III, the hunchback king whose skeleton was famously discovered in a council car park, investigates his role in the death of his nephews, the princes in the Tower, and his own death at the Battle of Bosworth.

Richard III reigned for only two years, and for centuries he was villified as the hunch-backed wicked uncle, murderer of the princes in the Tower. Josephine Tey's novel The Daughter of Time is an investigation into the real facts behind the last Plantagenet king's reign, and an attempt to right what many believe to be the…


All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Book cover of All Quiet on the Western Front

Volunteering to join the British Army as I did and consequently serving with The Parachute Regiment, it would have been very easy as a young man to be wrapped up in the reputation, tradition, glory, and ceremony of that unit and to forget what duties you might be called upon to perform. Similar in fact to the character of Paul Baumer, the young idealistic German soldier, full of patriotism and eager to fight the foe in the trenches of WW1. The reality is horrifyingly different, as superbly described by the author from his own harrowing experiences on the Western Front. Paul quickly realises that the nationalism he has been sold is quite false. He is constantly surrounded by hunger, sickness, fear, and death, and that he and his young comrades are already either ‘old or dead.’ To make matters worse his return home on leave is emotionally destructive as nobody…

All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked All Quiet on the Western Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.


The Last Full Measure

By Jeff Shaara,

Book cover of The Last Full Measure

I actually think that Shaara has outdone his father. Both, of course, weave the story around actual historical events, although Shaara Junior’s introduction of fictional characters livens the narrative up. I’ve enjoyed all of Shaara’s books, regardless of their historical setting, but I chose this one because it was a good way for me to learn more about the Civil War post-Gettysburg and also have a really good read.

The Last Full Measure

By Jeff Shaara,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Pulitzer prize–winning classic The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara created the finest Civil War novel of our time. In the bestselling Gods and Generals, Shaara’s son, Jeff, brilliantly sustained his father’s vision, telling the epic story of the events culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg. Now, Jeff Shaara brings this legendary father-son trilogy to its stunning conclusion in a novel that brings to life the final two years of the Civil War.
 
As The Last Full Measure opens, Gettysburg is past and the war advances to its third brutal year. On the Union side, the gulf between the politicians…


Northwest Passage

By Kenneth Roberts,

Book cover of Northwest Passage

When I was 11 years old, there was a TV show called Northwest Passage, which was an eye-opener for me because it took place at a time when the American frontier was somewhere in New York State. At the end of each episode the image of a book appeared, and I pestered my parents to get me a copy. A few days before my birthday, I caught sight of the book in a bag on my dad’s dresser. I was thrilled. I loved the adventures of Rogers’ Rangers as they fought their way through an endless forest during the French and Indian War and searched for the fabled shortcut to the Orient. In school, my book report on Northwest Passage was so long and enthusiastic that the teacher called time on me.

Northwest Passage

By Kenneth Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic novel follows the career of Major Rogers, whose incredible exploits during the French and Indian Wars are told through Langdon Towne, an artist and Harvard student who flees trouble to join the army.


L.A. Confidential

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of L.A. Confidential

Again, this should cover the whole LA Quartet. Crime novels that ooze the sleaziness, despair, and hypocrisy of the city of dreams that Hollywood built. Perfectly formed sentences, amazing characters, a story that twists and turns more than a rollercoaster and Ellroy’s savage wit. What more could anybody want? Except more Ellroy books….

L.A. Confidential

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christmas 1951, Los Angeles: a city where the police are as corrupt as the criminals. Six prisoners are beaten senseless in their cells by cops crazed on alcohol. For the three LAPD detectives involved, it will expose the guilty secrets on which they have built their corrupt and violent careers. The novel takes these cops on a sprawling epic of brutal violence and the murderous seedy side of Hollywood. One of the best (and longest) crime novels ever written, it is the heart of Ellroy's four-novel masterpiece, the LA Quartet, and an example of crime writing at its most powerful.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in naval history, the Napoleonic Wars, and World War 2?

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