100 books like The Perfect King

By Ian Mortimer,

Here are 100 books that The Perfect King fans have personally recommended if you like The Perfect King. 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 Black Prince

Mary Ellen Johnson Author Of The Lion and the Leopard

From my list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals.

Why am I passionate about this?

In junior high, I happened across a picture of an armor-plated knight being raised by a winch to sit astride his destrier. What a ridiculous time period, I thought. After raiding every related book in the school library,  I changed my opinion from “ridiculous” to “fascinating.” Particularly when deciding that periods such as the fourteenth century, with its plagues, wars, political upheavals, and climate change were pretty much a distorted mirror of our own. Throughout my life as wife, mother, novelist, and social justice advocate, I’ve held medieval England close to my heart. I remain forever grateful I’ve been able to explore it both in my writing and in several treks across the pond.  

Mary's book list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals

Mary Ellen Johnson Why did Mary love this book?

Each time I visit Canterbury Cathedral, I pay homage to my favorite knight, Edward of Woodstock, who epitomizes the fourteenth-century version of the knight nonpareil. Being an autodidact rather than a scholar, I am particularly grateful that Black Prince is both meticulously researched and easy to read. I particularly admire Prince Edward because of his courage on and off the battlefield, especially when enduring the mysterious illness that ultimately killed him. Edward the Black Prince embraced all the turns of fortune’s wheel with grace, courage, and dignity. Love this man and love this book!

By Michael Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a child he was given his own suit of armor; at the age of sixteen, he helped defeat the French at Crécy. At Poitiers, in 1356, his victory over King John II of France forced the French into a humiliating surrender that marked the zenith of England’s dominance in the Hundred Years War. As lord of Aquitaine, he ruled a vast swathe of territory across the west and southwest of France, holding a magnificent court at Bordeaux that mesmerized the brave but unruly Gascon nobility and drew them like moths to the flame of his cause. He was Edward…


Book cover of The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

T.M. Rowe Author Of A Viking Moon

From my list on transporting you back through time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have three lifelong passions, the first was reading, then writing, and then archaeology/history. To this end I studied and trained as an archaeologist before I sat down and decided to write stories set in the past as a way of bringing it to life. Of course, there had to be an adventure, a bit of a mystery, and a dash of magic to bring it all together. The books on my list are just a few of those that I have enjoyed reading during my hunt to get to know the past in intimate detail – on my own time travelling journey.

T.M.'s book list on transporting you back through time

T.M. Rowe Why did T.M. love this book?

I have read a lot of history and archaeology books and more often than not they can be a little dull, dry and in some cases work better than a sleeping tablet.

Not with this book, here you learn about parts of medieval England you just wouldn’t think about, written from a more personal point of view its less about political stuff like kings, queens, and those pesky archbishops and much more on the practicalities of living in medieval England.

Would you know what to eat, wear, or where to go to the toilet? Would you know how to address a lord or lady? Would you know what to do if you got sick? This is a vital guide for all time travelers!

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past is a foreign country. This is your guidebook. Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the fourteenth century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? Should you go to a castle or a monastic guest house? And what are you going to eat? What sort of food are you going to be offered by a peasant or a monk or a lord? This radical new approach turns our entire understanding of history upside down. It shows us that the past is not…


Book cover of The Three Edwards

Mary Ellen Johnson Author Of The Lion and the Leopard

From my list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals.

Why am I passionate about this?

In junior high, I happened across a picture of an armor-plated knight being raised by a winch to sit astride his destrier. What a ridiculous time period, I thought. After raiding every related book in the school library,  I changed my opinion from “ridiculous” to “fascinating.” Particularly when deciding that periods such as the fourteenth century, with its plagues, wars, political upheavals, and climate change were pretty much a distorted mirror of our own. Throughout my life as wife, mother, novelist, and social justice advocate, I’ve held medieval England close to my heart. I remain forever grateful I’ve been able to explore it both in my writing and in several treks across the pond.  

Mary's book list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals

Mary Ellen Johnson Why did Mary love this book?

Thomas Costain’s series introduced me to a fascinating world of castles and cathedrals, of tournaments where mounted knights broke lances on behalf of their ladies, where courtly love and chivalry ruled the day. (In theory. Seldom in practice.) How strange, my preteen self thought. How enchanting! I was particularly fascinated by The Three Edwards, which recounts the reign of one of England’s worst kings sandwiched between two of its greatest. With the eye of a natural storyteller, Costain intersperses tales of wars, rebellions, and political machinations with myths such as Arthur and Guinevere’s tombs being “discovered” in Glastonbury and the possible origins of Robin Hood. While there are newer series mining the same period, Costain’s research remains relatively solid, and his prose retains its powerful simplicity.  

By Thomas B. Costain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE THREE EDWARDS covers the years between 1272 and 1377 when three Edwards ruled England. Edward I brought England out of the Middle Ages. Edward II had a tragic reign but gave his country Edward III, who ruled gloriously, if violently.
"A thrilling narrative... history told with all the interest found only in a great novel." (Salt Lake City Tribune)


Book cover of 1381: The Year of the Peasants' Revolt

Mary Ellen Johnson Author Of The Lion and the Leopard

From my list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals.

Why am I passionate about this?

In junior high, I happened across a picture of an armor-plated knight being raised by a winch to sit astride his destrier. What a ridiculous time period, I thought. After raiding every related book in the school library,  I changed my opinion from “ridiculous” to “fascinating.” Particularly when deciding that periods such as the fourteenth century, with its plagues, wars, political upheavals, and climate change were pretty much a distorted mirror of our own. Throughout my life as wife, mother, novelist, and social justice advocate, I’ve held medieval England close to my heart. I remain forever grateful I’ve been able to explore it both in my writing and in several treks across the pond.  

Mary's book list on why the 14th century mirrors our ideals

Mary Ellen Johnson Why did Mary love this book?

Another beautifully written book recounting the first popular uprising in English history. Would the revolt even have occurred without the Black Death and the subsequent upheaval caused by labor shortages, rising wages, population migrations? The author subsequently draws similarities between 1381 and contemporary conditions, making a compelling case for the axiom: history often rhymes. (When promoting American Independence, Thomas Paine championed the rebels, as did supporters of the French Revolution.) I particularly enjoyed delving into the life of the radical priest, John Ball, whose (largely fictional) voice continues to inspire those who ask, “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”

By Juliet Barker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1381 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written with the fluency readers have come to expect from Juliet Barker, 1381: The Year of the Peasants' Revolt provides an account of the first great popular uprising in England and its background, and paints on a broad canvas a picture of English life in medieval times. Skeptical of contemporary chroniclers' accounts of events, Barker draws on the judicial sources of the indictments and court proceedings that followed the rebellion. This emphasis offers a fresh perspective on the so-called Peasants' Revolt and gives depth and texture to the historical narrative. Among the book's arguments are that the rebels believed they…


Book cover of War, Politics and Finance in Late Medieval English Towns: Bristol, York and the Crown, 1350-1400

Candace Robb Author Of The Riverwoman's Dragon

From my list on medieval York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing the Owen Archer mysteries, set in and around the city of York in the late 14th century, for 30 years, ever since falling in love with the city of York on a visit. As I studied medieval literature and culture in graduate school, with a special interest in Chaucer, I’ve focused my research on the period in which he lived. I’ve spent months walking the streets of the city, hiking through the countryside, and meeting with local historians. Besides the 13 Owen Archer mysteries I’ve also published 3 Kate Clifford mysteries covering Richard II’s downfall, both series grounded in the politics and culture of medieval York and Yorkshire. 

Candace's book list on medieval York

Candace Robb Why did Candace love this book?

Why would this 50 year period be so interesting in these two cities? In these years Bristol and York were second only to London in influence and growth within the realm, and as the rising merchant class accrued wealth they used it to make agreements with the crown—to their advantage, of course. With King Edward III it was all about his war with France; with his grandson and successor King Richard II it was about gaining charters that made them more independent of royal interference as well as negotiating their way between the political factions within the nobility.

Richard’s reign was a dangerous time, especially at the end when York merchants chose to loan money to Henry Bolingbroke’s uprising against his cousin the king.  The stakes were high and the personalities larger than life.

By Christian D. Liddy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War, Politics and Finance in Late Medieval English Towns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The strengthening of ties between crown and locality in the fourteenth century is epitomised by the relationships between York and Bristol (then amongst the largest and wealthiest urban communities in England) and the crown. Thisbook combines a detailed study of the individuals who ruled Bristol and York at the time with a close analysis of the texts which illustrate the relationship between the two cities and the king, thus offering a new perspective onrelations between town and crown in late medieval England.
Beginning with an analysis of the various demands, financial, political and commercial, made upon the towns by the…


Book cover of The Archer's Tale

J. K. Swift Author Of Acre

From my list on with realistic fight scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good fight scene! It doesn’t need to be long and gruesome, but it must be visceral and make me nervous for those involved. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a good first-kiss scene but unfortunately, my past has made me more adept at recognizing and writing one over the other. I started training in martial arts at the age of nine and continued for thirty years. I don’t train much these days but I took up bowmaking a few years back and now spend a lot of time carving English longbows and First Nations’ bows. I recently also took up Chinese archery.

J. K.'s book list on with realistic fight scenes

J. K. Swift Why did J. K. love this book?

Bernard Cornwell’s fight scenes are what I would call emotional rather than technical. You feel his fights, the vibration of sword against shield, the panic of your feet slipping in the mud, the fear rising up in your guts that will allow only a half-crazed scream to come out of your mouth. If you’re looking for a manual on sword fighting, Cornwell is not your man. But if you want to be put in a character’s armor while someone is trying to skewer him with a spear, no one does it better. I was drawn to this book because it was about an archer, and I know how hard it is to write fight scenes with archers in them. I am an amateur bowyer and having made more than a few bows I know how much skill it takes to make and use these weapons. Cornwell did a lot of…

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Harlequins are lost souls, so loved by the devil that he would not take them to hell, but left them to roam the earth. In French the word is hellequin - the name given to the English archers who crossed the Channel to lay a country to waste.

Thomas of Hookton is one of those archers. When his village is sacked by French raiders, he makes a promise to God: to retrieve the relic stolen from Hookton's church. Escaping his father's ambitions, he becomes a wild youth who delights in the life of an army on the warpath.

Driven by…


Book cover of Master of War

A.V. Arms Author Of Shadows

From my list on historical fiction with solid research.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifestyle reporter, my favorite stories were those of ordinary people doing both great and small things that are extraordinary. I've written since I could string sentences together, beginning with a desire to create what I wanted to read. That need has landed me in historical fiction. Nothing else is as satisfying as plunging down rabbit holes of research to come up hours later wondering where the day went. I strive to make my novels as historically accurate as possible because the combination of emotional involvement of fiction is a great way to learn about history. I'm not here to rewrite history but to give my readers a chance to relive it. 

A.V.'s book list on historical fiction with solid research

A.V. Arms Why did A.V. love this book?

I was blown away by the history provided by Gilman in this book about his character Thomas Blackstone. It starts out with Blackstone as a blacksmith apprentice who is recruited to fight in the 100 Years War. He is made an archer with a strong arm, and the reader is transported into battles with Blackstone. The details of the archers, their importance to the army, and their equipment are a true learning experience. 

By David Gilman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Like a punch from a mailed fist, MASTER OF WAR gives a true taste of the Hundred Years War. It is a gripping chronicle of pitched battle, treachery and cruelty. The stench and harshness of medieval life is ever present' ROBERT FABBRI, bestselling author of the Vespasian series.

England, 1346: For Thomas Blackstone the choice is easy - dance on the end of a rope for a murder he did not commit, or take up his war bow and join the king's invasion.

As he fights his way across northern France, Blackstone learns the brutal lessons of war - from…


Book cover of Edward III

Hope Carolle Author Of The Veil Between Worlds

From my list on surviving and thriving in Medieval England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved books where the main character goes from his/her own ordinary existence into another world, with inspiration from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, who was a tutor in English Literature. Since I love history, there’s nothing more fun for me than historical time travel, and I wonder how difficult it might be for a modern woman or man, well-versed in the history and literature of the time, to navigate the customs, etiquette, language, clothing, and politics in 1344. 

Hope's book list on surviving and thriving in Medieval England

Hope Carolle Why did Hope love this book?

Edward III’s founding of the Order of the Garter was what inspired me to write my book, but I knew little about him.

This true medieval king’s fifty-year-long reign was marked by controversy from the start, but he was also a romantic, a warrior (he instigated the 100 Year War against the French), steered England through the horrific amount of death from the plague in 1348, and was the patriarch to The Black Prince and John of Gaunt, and The War of the Roses came after his reign.

I recommend this fascinating account of his life. 

By W. Mark Ormrod,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A landmark biography of the charismatic king beloved of fourteenth-century England

Edward III (1312-1377) was the most successful European ruler of his age. Reigning for over fifty years, he achieved spectacular military triumphs and overcame grave threats to his authority, from parliamentary revolt to the Black Death. Revered by his subjects as a chivalric dynamo, he initiated the Hundred Years' War and gloriously led his men into battle against the Scots and the French.

In this illuminating biography, W. Mark Ormrod takes a deeper look at Edward to reveal the man beneath the military muscle. What emerges is Edward's clear…


Book cover of The Battle of Crécy, 1346

Gordon Corrigan Author Of A Great and Glorious Adventure: A Military History of the Hundred Years War

From my list on the Hundred Years' War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I decided to write this book because while there are many works on the Hundred Years War, they tend to dwell on the political and diplomatic, rather than the military aspects. I considered that this period marked a real revolution in military affairs, led by England. It was England that had the world’s only professional army since the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west in the 5th Century, that used technology (the longbow) as a force multiplier, and while moving on horseback did its fighting on foot. It was these three legs of the revolution that allowed tiny English armies to defeat far larger French feudal ones.

Gordon's book list on the Hundred Years' War

Gordon Corrigan Why did Gordon love this book?

There are lots of books about Crecy, the first major land battle of the war, but here the authors examine and compare all the original sources. 

Medieval historians were not necessarily interested in the things that modern historians are, so there are many gaps in the various accounts. Similarly, many academics, through no fault of their own, do not understand the mechanics of organising, deploying, and administering an army, or how it actually fought. 

Here the authors do examine points such as what formation the English armies would have taken up, where exactly the archers would have been placed, and suchlike. 

While I, with my own military experience, might not agree with all the Authors’ conclusions, they do an admirable job of comparing, contrasting, and shining light into dark corners.

By Sir Philip Preston, Andrew Ayton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle of Crécy, 1346 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With additional contributions from Francoise Autrand, Christophe Piel, Michael Prestwich, and Bertrand Schnerb.

On the evening of 26 August 1346, the greatest military power in Christendom, the French royal army withPhilip VI at its head, was defeated by an expeditionary force from England under the command of Edward III. A momentous event that sent shock waves across Europe, the battle of Crecy marked a turning point in the English king's struggle with his Valois adversary. While the French suffered humiliation and crippling casualties, compounded by the consequential loss of Calais a year later, the self-confidence and military reputation of the…


Book cover of The Cross of Lead

Faye Gibbons Author Of Halley

From my list on coming-of-age for almost any age.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my life I’ve been pushing against limits. Being the oldest of five children born to a farm couple who became mill workers, I was frequently reminded by family that “people like us” did not need much education, didn’t get the good jobs, and shouldn’t “rise above themselves.” Being a girl, I had additional limits. Naturally, when I learned to read, I was drawn to books in which characters broke through unfair restraints to have adventures and accomplish great deeds. I wanted to be one of those people. By the time I came of age, I knew I had a shot at becoming the heroine of my own story!

Faye's book list on coming-of-age for almost any age

Faye Gibbons Why did Faye love this book?

Crispin is a young serf in Medieval England--an orphan despised by everyone for reasons he does not understand. Though I never had problems as dire as Crispin faced, I frequently felt mistreated as a child, and like him, the forest was my comfort and refuge. Like him, I had a lively curiosity about the lives of others and many times learned important lessons through observation. I shared Crispin's tendency to hero worship those who befriended me, and like him, I generally chose my role models well.

By Avi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Cross of Lead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?


Newbery Medal winner The Cross of Lead is "a page-turner from beginning to end... full of adventure, mystery, and action" (School Library Journal).

Sometimes I ran, sometimes all I could do was walk. All I knew was that if the steward overtook me, I’d not survive for long....

Crispin is a poor thirteen-year-old peasant in medieval England. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a "wolf’s head," meaning he may be killed on sight, by anyone. He flees his tiny village with nothing but his mother’s cross of lead. 

In the English countryside, Crispin meets…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Edward III of England, the Wars of the Roses, and the Hundred Years' War?

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