86 books like The Sword Bearer

By Stewart Lamont,

Here are 86 books that The Sword Bearer fans have personally recommended if you like The Sword Bearer. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From my list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Marie Macpherson Why did Marie love this book?

Reams have been written about the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the magisterial biographies by Antonia Fraser and John Guy to those focusing on her relationship with her sister queen, Elizabeth Tudor. Crown of Thistles by historian Linda Porter plugs a gap in Mary’s history by exploring the background to the prolonged rivalry and dynastic complications between the Stewarts of Scotland and the Tudors of England. 

Dr. Porter’s book was an invaluable resource which I mined for lots of fascinating nuggets and incisive comments not found elsewhere.

This is an excellent, highly readable introduction for anyone wishing to know more about the violent history of the ancestors who shaped Mary’s destiny.

By Linda Porter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary's grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. But he must also have known that Margaret's descendants might seek to rule the…


Book cover of Blood Feud: Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Moray

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From my list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Marie Macpherson Why did Marie love this book?

Returning from France to claim her throne, the Catholic queen steeled herself for a battle with John Knox, the fiery leader of a Reformed Scotland. However, as this exhilarating book reveals, Knox was not her most dangerous foe but her half-brother, James Stewart. 

In many accounts, the cunning, ambitious, and jealous Earl of Moray remains a shadowy figure, a Machiavellian eminence grise behind his sister’s throne but Veerapen’s scholarly historical analysis highlights the intense rivalry between the siblings that precipitated bloody assassinations and execution. 

Dr. Steven Veerapen is a historian of Stewarts and Tudors as well as a prolific author of mysteries set in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Here he writes a gripping narrative about the base-born brother who coveted his sister’s crown.

By Steven Veerapen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Much-needed analysis of a sinister sibling rivalry" - Marie Macpherson, author of 'The First Blast of the Trumpet'

Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most famous monarchs. A sovereign almost from birth, her life has been subject to intense scrutiny. So too have her relationships, from those she shared with her three husbands to that with the sixteenth-century’s other famous queen, her cousin Elizabeth.

There remains, however, a relationship that has been little explored: that between the Scottish queen and her base-born brother, James Stewart, the earl of Moray. Theirs is a drama of suspicion, political intrigue, religion,…


Book cover of Mary of Guise (Scots' Lives)

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From my list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Marie Macpherson Why did Marie love this book?

The more I learnt about Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots, the more I admired this inspiring woman whose life is overshadowed by that of her more famous daughter. The French widow who spurned Henry VIII’s advances in favour of James V proved to be a wise, sharp-witted politician ruling as regent for Mary. Despite suffering great personal sorrow–the loss of two husbands and four sons–she held her daughter’s throne against opposition from the Scots lords until her premature death in 1560.

I often wonder how Mary’s life would have turned out had she been brought up by her shrewd and politically astute de Guise mother.

This is more a sketch than a full-length portrait but, like all Dr. Marshall’s studies, offers a wealth of information and telling details.

By Rosalind Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary of Guise (Scots' Lives) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As mother of Mary Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise is often overshadowed by her more famous daughter. However, this intelligent and energetic woman also led an intriguing life of her own. Daughter of a powerful French family, a staunch Roman Catholic and subtle politician, she acted as Regent for her young daughter and was keen to ensure that Scottish loyalties lay with France rather than Protestant England. This is the story of a strong-willed woman who lived through turbulent times.


Book cover of Darnley: A Life of Henry Suart Lord Darnley, Consort of Mary Queen of Scots

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From my list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Marie Macpherson Why did Marie love this book?

The murder of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, has baffled historians and authors for centuries, yet the queen’s consort is often a minor figure in the greater tragedy/romance of Mary. While writing my own book, I was eager to know more about the ill-fated lang lad other than the results of his self-centred scheming conspiracies–David Rizzio’s assassination, his own murder at Kirk o Field, and ultimately Mary’s downfall. And so it was refreshing to read this excellent biography which gives Darnley centre stage. By recreating his childhood and family background, particularly around his ambitious mother, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, Caroline Bingham offers a fascinating portrait of this flawed character who stole the queen’s heart and then broke it. 

At times her account made me feel sorry for this gullible pawn in the Game of Queens.

By Caroline Bingham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Darnley was a murderer, and then himself a victim of one of the most famous unsolved murders of all time.


Book cover of John Knox

Andrew Greig Author Of Rose Nicolson: Memoir of William Fowler of Edinburgh

From my list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands.

Who am I?

I was born in rural Bannockburn in Scotland, two fields from the site of the famous Battle (a rare victory over England) of 1314. From the start, the Past has always been very present to me. I have written 22 books: novels, non-fiction memoir, and poetry. In differing ways they all explore aspects of Scotland and being Scottish – our landscape, geology, history, culture, and psyche. I was brought up in East Fife, near St Andrews, and live in Edinburgh and Orkney; my mother was English, as is my wife, novelist Lesley Glaister. Which is by way of saying I am interested in writing the joys, aches, and complexities of being human, in the universal and the local, in our present and the Past that shapes it.

Andrew's book list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands

Andrew Greig Why did Andrew love this book?

So it is not a novel, but might as well be for its twists, turns, and transformations. Edinburgh in 1572 was a small town of some 3,000 families, so my real-life narrator William Fowler would know and meet one of its most notable citizens, Preacher John Knox of Haddington, along with his young and socially aristocratic second wife (the latter attribute was more a matter of gossip and criticism than the thirty-seven years age gap), and witnessed him being helped up into the pulpit at St Giles to give his congregation a last good talking to. This is the most recent (drawing on a major new cache of letters), and highly readable, life of the man who pushed Scotland towards a Presbyterian Calvinist form of Protestantism – crucially distinct from that evolving in England under the Auld Hag aka Elizabeth I. He is revealed as a much more complex and…

By Jane Dawson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The definitive biography of John Knox, a leader of the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Scotland

"Never before has there been such a thoroughly and sympathetically critical treatment of the 16th-century Scottish reformer's thought and times. . . . A joy to read and a book to value."-Sean Michael Lucas, Gospel Coalition

Based in large part on previously unavailable sources, including the recently discovered papers of John Knox's close friend and colleague Christopher Goodman, this biography challenges the traditionally held stereotype of the founder of the Presbyterian denomination as a strident and misogynist religious reformer whose influence rarely extended beyond Scotland.…


Book cover of The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Peter Marshall Author Of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

From my list on the English Reformation.

Who am I?

Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, co-editor of the English Historical Review, and the author of nine books and over sixty articles on the religious and cultural history of early modern Europe. His authoritative account of the Reformation in England, Heretics and Believers, was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 2018. Peter is a native of the Orkney Islands, and currently writing a book on the islanders’ experiences in the Reformation era.

Peter's book list on the English Reformation

Peter Marshall Why did Peter love this book?

Eamon Duffy’s justly acclaimed ‘microhistory’ transports us away from the world of bishops, parliament and the court in order to track, across four crucial decades, the experiences of a tiny village on the edge of Exmoor in Devon, based on meticulous recordings in the ‘church book’ by the long-serving parish priest. It is a story in miniature of the tragically destructive aspects of the Reformation, but also an uplifting one in its depiction of the capacity of ordinary people to survive and adapt.

By Eamon Duffy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the fifty years between 1530 and 1580, England moved from being one of the most lavishly Catholic countries in Europe to being a Protestant nation, a land of whitewashed churches and antipapal preaching. What was the impact of this religious change in the countryside? And how did country people feel about the revolutionary upheavals that transformed their mental and material worlds under Henry VIII and his three children?

In this book a reformation historian takes us inside the mind and heart of Morebath, a remote and tiny sheep farming village on the southern edge of Exmoor. The bulk of…


Book cover of Reformation Unbound: Protestant Visions of Reform in England, 1525–1590

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable

From my list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers.

Who am I?

I developed my passion for the Reformation while studying History and Theology at Cambridge. Now, several years and a dozen books on 16th -17th-century history later, my obsession has not waned for what was the most formative period in the development, not only of our religious and political life, but also of our culture. I like to think that, through my books, journal articles, and lectures (and the occasional historical novel) I have made a useful contribution to our understanding of that culture.

Derek's book list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Derek Wilson Why did Derek love this book?

This incisive account of the development of Protestant extremism reveals that the beliefs of the Pilgrims were not novel. Dr Gunther traces their development back to the early years of the Reformation. When the religion of images and priests was replaced by the religion of words and preachers the implications for the English church could only be extensive and devastating. When the Bible was translated into the vernacular and increasing numbers of Christians read it for themselves it is clear (though only in hindsight) that the centre could not hold. People were driven by conscience to oppose, not only their bishops, but also their sovereign. This book is valuable for weaving the separatist vision into the weft and warp of Tudor society.

By Karl Gunther,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fundamentally revising our understanding of the nature and intellectual contours of early English Protestantism, Karl Gunther argues that sixteenth-century English evangelicals were calling for reforms and envisioning godly life in ways that were far more radical than have hitherto been appreciated. Typically such ideas have been seen as later historical developments, associated especially with radical Puritanism, but Gunther's work draws attention to their development in the earliest decades of the English Reformation. Along the way, the book offers new interpretations of central episodes in this period of England's history, such as the 'Troubles at Frankfurt' under Mary and the Elizabethan…


Book cover of The Irish Church and the Tudor Reformations

Crawford Gribben Author Of The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland

From my list on Christianity in Ireland.

Who am I?

Like anyone else who takes an interest in Ireland, I’ve been fascinated by the long and often very difficult history of the island’s experience of religion. Where I live, in county Antrim, religious imagery appears everywhere – in churches and schools, obviously, but also on signboards posted onto trees, and in the colourful rags that are still hung up to decorate holy wells. This book is the fruit of twenty years of thinking about Christian Ireland - its long and difficult history, and its sudden and difficult collapse.

Crawford's book list on Christianity in Ireland

Crawford Gribben Why did Crawford love this book?

Since the later sixteenth century, historians have been trying to explain why the Irish refused to follow their political leaders into the newly established protestant church. Jefferies’s book highlights the scale of the problem – showing that by the turn of the seventeenth century, seventy years after the beginnings of protestant reform, the number of native Irish converts amounted to little more than one hundred. Pushing against the triumphalism that marked an older way of writing the history of the reformation, Jefferies demonstrates the popularity of the late medieval church and argues that historians should reframe their research questions.

It might be less important to ask why the protestant reformation failed, he suggests, and more important to ask why – despite everything – the Catholic church remained so popular.

By Henry A. Jefferies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Irish Church and the Tudor Reformations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This important book examines Ireland's experiences of the Tudor reformations. Part I shows that the Irish Church, far from being in decline, enjoyed an upsurge in lay support before Henry VIII's reformation. Part II shows how the early Tudor reformations failed to address the pre-existing weaknesses of the Irish Church, while Cardinal Pole's program for Catholic restoration in Mary's reign did not enjoy the time needed to do so. Instead, the problems of the Irish Church were exacerbated as Tudor policy in Ireland became increasingly militarist and expansionist. Under Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth, the English crown was able…


Book cover of Being Protestant in Reformation Britain

Helen Hackett Author Of The Elizabethan Mind: Searching for the Self in an Age of Uncertainty

From my list on how Shakespeare thought about the mind.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved all things Elizabethan, and I especially love spending time with books and manuscripts where voices from the period speak to us directly. Wanting to understand how Shakespeare and his contemporaries understood themselves led me to investigate their ideas about relations between mind and body, about emotions, about the imagination, and about the minds of women and those of other races. I’ve learned that the Elizabethans grappled with many conflicting ideas about the mind, from classical philosophies, medieval medicine, new theologies, and more – and that this intellectual turmoil was essential fuel for the extraordinary literary creativity of the period.

Helen's book list on how Shakespeare thought about the mind

Helen Hackett Why did Helen love this book?

The most seismic cultural shift of the sixteenth century was undoubtedly the Protestant Reformation.

It affected everything: not only religion and politics, but also, profoundly, how each individual thought about themselves. Ryrie uses many sources from the period to show how private prayer, meditation, and self-examination became central to everybody’s life.

Spending time in contemplation was not just an anticipation of modern mindfulness practices: it was a matter of eternal life or death. In looking within, you were searching for certainty that you had received God’s saving grace, destining you for bliss in heaven, not endless torment in hell.

Inevitably this created turbulent states of doubt and anxiety, and Ryrie shows how Protestants came to value the passions (what we call emotions) as a necessary part of inward spiritual struggle.

By Alec Ryrie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Protestant in Reformation Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Reformation was about ideas and power, but it was also about real human lives. Alec Ryrie provides the first comprehensive account of what it actually meant to live a Protestant life in England and Scotland between 1530 and 1640, drawing on a rich mixture of contemporary devotional works, sermons, diaries, biographies, and autobiographies to uncover the lived experience of early modern Protestantism.

Beginning from the surprisingly urgent, multifaceted emotions of Protestantism, Ryrie explores practices of prayer, of family and public worship, and of reading and writing, tracking them through the life course from childhood through conversion and vocation to…


Book cover of Providence in Early Modern England

Peter Marshall Author Of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

From my list on the English Reformation.

Who am I?

Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, co-editor of the English Historical Review, and the author of nine books and over sixty articles on the religious and cultural history of early modern Europe. His authoritative account of the Reformation in England, Heretics and Believers, was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 2018. Peter is a native of the Orkney Islands, and currently writing a book on the islanders’ experiences in the Reformation era.

Peter's book list on the English Reformation

Peter Marshall Why did Peter love this book?

In the world of the Reformation, nothing happened by chance. Providentialism was the belief that every event in the human and natural world was a result of the direct will of God, and was infused with meanings for people to interpret. With great sensitivity and insight, Walsham draws us into these unfamiliar ways of thinking, where everything from a bout of bad weather to the unmasking of a political plot could be a message from God demanding an urgent collective response.

By Alexandra Walsham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Providence in Early Modern England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Providence in Early Modern England is the most extensive study to date of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century belief that God actively intervened in human affairs to punish, reward, warn, try, and chastise. Providentialism has often been seen as a distinctive hallmark of puritan piety. However, Dr Walsham argues that it was a cluster of assumptions which penetrated every sector of English society, cutting across the boundaries created by status and creed,
education and wealth. She explores a range of dramatic events and puzzling phenomena in which contemporaries detected the divine finger at work: tragic accidents and sudden deaths, strange sights…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Reformation, Scotland, and Mary Queen of Scots?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Reformation, Scotland, and Mary Queen of Scots.

The Reformation Explore 18 books about the Reformation
Scotland Explore 307 books about Scotland
Mary Queen Of Scots Explore 16 books about Mary Queen of Scots