100 books like The Summer of the Danes

By Ellis Peters,

Here are 100 books that The Summer of the Danes fans have personally recommended if you like The Summer of the Danes. 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 Golden Egg

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found at the Festilitt annual secondhand booksale in Parisot, France.

Any Donna Leon book is irresistible to me. I know I will enjoy inhabiting those Venetian streets and cafes with her Inspector Brunetti; dining with his family, including his wife, who is an expert on Henry James; hearing more about his colleagues (good and bad) at the police station.

Like Peters’ Cadfael series or Jane Austen’s novels, Leon works on a little piece of ivory – a constrained world and community that the reader can step into. Once there, with Inspector Brunetti, we must puzzle out another well-crafted mystery that evidences both the cruelties and the kindnesses of the human heart.

By Donna Leon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The familiar characters and Venetian location are described with remarkable freshness and, as always, the edifying result is both amusing and thought-provoking.' Sunday Telegraph

A New York Times Bestseller
__________________________________

Celebrated by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers, Donna Leon brings Venice to life in the twenty-second Brunetti novel of this bestselling series, where our detective must uncover the mystery surrounding a mute man's murder.

When making routine enquiries into a possible bribery case that could embarrass the mayor - a humiliation Vice-Questore Patta is very keen to avoid - Commissario Brunetti receives a call from…


Book cover of The Women Troubadours

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Library in Carmarthen during my MA Creative Writing.

Bogin delivers racy translations of the female troubadour poetry and a substantial essay on their context. This was a serendipitous find for me, as I was writing about an 11th-century woman in southern France at the time, Almodis de La Marche, and it set me off on another bout of research that led to another bout of writing.

Female troubadours figure in several of my novels and a very louche, Welsh bard spy is a key character in my trilogy. He is based on my best friend and muse.

By Meg Bogin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first twentieth-century study of the women troubadours who flourished in Southern France between 1150 and 1250-the great period of troubadour poetry. The book is comprised of a full-length essay on women in the Middle Ages, twenty-three poems by the women troubadours themselves in the original Provencal with translations on facing pages, a capsule biography of each poet, notes, and reading list.


Book cover of The Written World: Past and Place in the Work of Orderic Vitalis

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

I stumbled on this book in Raven secondhand bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I was researching for my 12th-century trilogy, Conquest, and this book is a brilliant critical study of the Anglo-Norman chronicler, Orderic Vitalis. The book is wonderfully written and conveys the astonishing beauty of Orderic’s own work.

Orderic, as he writes, ranged far and wide across the Anglo-Norman kingdom in his imagination and then returned to his ‘black-clad life’ as a monk.

Raven and Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop in Paris are amongst my top favourites. I love to visit Shakespeare for its cramped unevenly floored labyrinth and intelligent array of books.

I greatly enjoy a bookshop – these two and Victoria Bookshop in Haverfordwest spring to mind – where the staff is obviously as lovestruck by books as I am.

By Amanda Hingst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Anglo-Norman monk Orderic Vitalis (1075-c.1142) wrote his monumental, highly individual Historia Ecclesiastica as an exercise in monastic discipline intended to preserve the events and character of Christendom for future generations. Though cloistered since childhood in a Benedictine monastery near Normandy's southern border, Orderic gained access to an intellectual world that extended from Scotland to Jerusalem through his engagement with texts and travelers that made their way into his monastic milieu. His Historia Ecclesiastica, with a breadth of vision unparalleled in its time, is a particularly fertile source for an investigation of concepts of space and historiography in the high…


Book cover of Aethelflaed: The Lady of the Mercians

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found in the British Library, where I would be quite happy to move in on a permanent basis if only they would let me.

I’ve read many excellent biographies of medieval women there, including Kimberley LoPrete’s Adela de Blois, Alison Weir’s Queens of the Conquest, Kari Maund’s Princess Nest of Wales, and Lois L. Honeycutt’s Matilda of Scotland. Clarkson’s biography is eminently readable.

In lucid and concise prose garnished with maps, genealogies, a good index, and bibliography, this book paints a fascinating picture of King Alfred’s daughter.

By Tim Clarkson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The true story of the Lady of the Mercians.

At the end of the ninth century AD, a large part of what is now England was controlled by the Vikings - heathen warriors from Scandinavia who had been attacking the British Isles for more than a hundred years. Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, was determined to regain the conquered lands but his death in 899 meant that the task passed to his son Edward. In the early 900s, Edward led a great fightback against the Viking armies. He was assisted by the English rulers of Mercia: Lord AEthelred and…


Book cover of One Corpse Too Many

Elizabeth Flynn Author Of Game, Set and Murder

From my list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed murder mysteries, with spy novels coming a very close second. I like the puzzle aspect of the story and the unravelling thereof. From early in my childhood I have written and it has never occurred to me to write in any other genre than Crime Fiction. I do like, however, both in my own output and that which I read, to gain an insight into other people’s lives and histories. I like to learn about the surroundings in which the stories are set. Also, for me a must, the characters have to be rounded and three dimensional.

Elizabeth's book list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries

Elizabeth Flynn Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This is the second in a murder series with a historical slant. Brother Cadfael, ex-crusading soldier-turned-monk is an intriguing character in himself. He runs the monastery’s herb garden in Shrewsbury in 12th Century England. When he is asked to bury 94 bodies of people who died because of the fighting between King Stephen and Empress Maud, he discovers a total of 95 corpses and realises that a very clever murder is lurking in the town.  

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Corpse Too Many as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Cadfael discovers a murder amid the wreckage of Shrewsbury Castle in this mystery series featuring “a colorful and authentic medieval background” (Publishers Weekly).

In the summer of 1138, war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes Brother Cadfael from the quiet world of his garden into a battlefield of passions, deceptions, and death. Not far from the safety of the abbey walls, Shrewsbury Castle falls, leaving its ninety-four defenders loyal to the empress to hang as traitors. With a heavy heart, Brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead, only to make a grisly discovery: one extra victim that…


Book cover of An Excellent Mystery

Jeanne M. Dams Author Of Murder in the Park

From my list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to hate history, until I made the startling discovery that history wasn’t about dates and wars—the stuff we had to memorize in high school—but about people. And what can be more absorbing than people? When I started my first historical series, set in the very early 20th century in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, I delved into the local newspaper and learned that the people of the time and their problems were very much like today’s. That pulled me in, and never let go. Now, researching the 1920s, I’m meeting people who might live next door. It’s so much fun!

Jeanne's book list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive

Jeanne M. Dams Why did Jeanne love this book?

I love all of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books for so many reasons.

One is the crisp excellence of writing, one is her illuminating description of her medieval setting, one is her endearing protagonist, one is her exceptional plotting. This particular title has a most intriguing plot and a thoroughly satisfying resolution.

I chose the book (which I have reread many times) with a satisfied smile. And finally, the books are set in the England I so love, even if her setting is 11 centuries ago. 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the year of our Lord 1141, August comes in golden as a lion, and two monks ride into the Benedictine abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul bringing with them disturbing news of war- and a mystery. The strangers tell how the strife between the Empress Maud and King Stephen has destroyed the town of Winchester and their priory. Now Brother Humilis, who is handsome, gaunt and very ill, and Brother Fidelis, youthful, comely- and mute- must seek refuge at Shrewsbury.

From the moment he meets them, Brother Cadfael senses that they are bound by something deeper than their…


Book cover of Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior

Elizabeth Norton Author Of Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

From my list on England’s medieval queens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by England’s medieval queens since picking up a copy of Norah Lofts’ Queens of Britain as a child. I studied Archaeology at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, focussing on the Anglo-Saxons. While my PhD and later work primarily focuses on the Tudor period, I have remained passionate about medieval queenship, writing the first biography of Queen Elfrida, as well as a longer book, England’s Queens, containing mini-biographies of every woman who served as reigning queen, consort or king’s wife. It has been a pleasure to share my top picks (from amongst many other wonderful titles), which I feel really bring England’s medieval queens to life.

Elizabeth's book list on England’s medieval queens

Elizabeth Norton Why did Elizabeth love this book?

There is no better place to start this list than with Empress Matilda, England’s first reigning queen. Matilda, who vied for the English throne against her cousin, King Stephen, has always been a personal favourite of mine. She came tantalisingly close, in 1141, to securing her coronation and recognition of her rule. I was therefore very excited to read Catherine Hanley’s expertly written biography. I love the detail given on Matilda’s actions, with Hanley’s research impeccably detailed. This is one of the most valuable accounts of the life of an early English monarch.

By Catherine Hanley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A life of Matilda-empress, skilled military leader, and one of the greatest figures of the English Middle Ages

"[Matilda] will attract a growing audience interested in stories of women challenging the male-dominated European past."-Alexandra Locking, Medieval Review

"A lively and authoritative account."-Katherine Harvey, Times Literary Supplement

Matilda was a daughter, wife, and mother. But she was also empress, heir to the English crown-the first woman ever to hold the position-and an able military general.

This new biography explores Matilda's achievements as military and political leader, and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into…


Book cover of A Mortal Bane

Cara Hogarth Author Of My Lady of the Whip

From my list on medieval sexuality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Cara Hogarth emigrated from England to Australia as a child, but always wished she hadn’t. So she studied medieval history at university in order to travel back in time and place. Now that she’s bagged a PhD (on Chaucer’s raunchy Wife of Bath), she prefers to write historical fiction in order to truly immerse herself and her readers in the past. She finds academic history a fantastic inspiration for her fiction writing, but is always seeking out historical novels that hit just the right balance between research, humor, and page-turning plot. Warning: her novels can get quite steamy!

Cara's book list on medieval sexuality

Cara Hogarth Why did Cara love this book?

A medieval murder mystery set in a brothel! Prostitution was one of the few ways in which a woman might earn an independent living in the Middle Ages.

Not that I’m recommending it as a career choice, mind you. Roberta Gellis has created quite the unusual whorehouse under her unfortunately beautiful Madam, Magdalene. Her employees include a blind woman, a mute Saracen, a woman of childlike intelligence, and the brothel’s cook too is deaf. Magdalene herself was accused of murder and has to live in disguise.

This is a wonderfully well-researched historical mystery that illuminates the circumstances that might force a medieval woman into prostitution. 

By Roberta Gellis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Roberta Gellis, acclaimed author of The Roselynde Chronicles, brings medieval London to life--and death--with her latest tale of splendor and squalor. Magdalene la Bâtarde is the madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse in Southwark. She and her women are expected to engage in a number of sinful delights, but bloody murder isn't one of them--until Baldassare, the messenger, dies.

Though Baldassare wasn't a regular client of the Old Priory Guesthouse, Magdalene and her women refuse to allow his death to go unavenged. Of course, their efforts aren't completely altruistic. Chances are if they don't find the killer, they will be…


Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was eight. I remember reading through the biography section of my grade school library, cleaning out the names from the Revolution, the Civil War, famous pioneers, and the Wild West. I also had some unbelievable professors in college. One of my first courses was entitled “The World Since 1919.”  It began with Herman Muller blinking in the Hall of Mirrors as he signed the Treaty of Versailles. The course material took us from that moment until the morning news on the last day of class. We learned that history isn’t about the past but how we came to the present.

J.'s book list on books that sweep through time and immerse you in a story so compelling that you don’t even realize you’re learning about history

J. Boyce Gleason Why did J. love this book?

Despite his success as a spy/thriller novelist, Ken Follett had trouble finding a publisher when he tried his hand at historical fiction. Fortunately, he persisted and published this book, which outsold every novel he'd ever written.

When it was first released, my wife refused to let me read it as I was in the midst of writing my own book. “It’s too similar to your story,” she said. It may throw you off.” Although set several centuries after my book's story, the world had changed little and featured similar conflicts between pagans and the church. Where my book tells the story of what happens to Charles Martel's family upon his death, Pillars tells the story of Britain after the loss of a host of nobles, including the heir to the British throne, on a boat that sank in the English Channel. 

It's a great book, a fun read, and it…

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Pillars of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Oprah's Book Club Selection

The "extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece" (Booklist) that changed the course of Ken Follett's already phenomenal career-and begins where its prequel, The Evening and the Morning, ended.

"Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner," extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett's unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal.

The…


Book cover of Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

The reign of King Stephen (1135–1154) was characterized by chaos and disorder, as he and his cousin Matilda fought over the succession to the English throne. This makes it a challenge to offer a coherent account, but Carl Watkins succeeds where others have failed in his short history of Stephen’s reign. The whole book, minus its academic endnotes, runs to under 90 pages, but it packs a considerable punch, thanks to Watkins’ elegant and enviable prose style. 

By Carl Watkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Stephen risked being seen as a man who never quite transcended the essential flawed-ness of his claim to be king. His actions betrayed uneasiness in his new skin'

Remembered as a time in which 'Christ and his saints slept', Stephen's troubled reign plunged England into anarchy. Without clear rules of succession in the Norman monarchy, conflict within William the Conqueror's family was inevitable. But, as this resonant portrait shows, there was another problem too: Stephen himself, unable to make good the transition from nobleman to king.


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