The most recommended books about Celtic Britons

Who picked these books? Meet our 43 experts.

43 authors created a book list connected to Celtic Britons, and here are their favorite Celtic Britons books.
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Book cover of Fool

Michael Mullin Author Of Simon

From my list on books that retell plays of Shakespeare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve become a bit of a Hamlet geek in my adult years, including having a framed poster in my house that features the entire text. The passion, for me, comes from the depth and complexity of the story. It sounds like hyperbole, but there really is always something new to discover. Some years ago, I taught Hamlet in a college writing class. That experience really allowed me to dive into the text and much of the attendant criticism. The academic approach opened up whole new worlds of opinions and perspectives for which I’m very grateful.

Michael's book list on books that retell plays of Shakespeare

Michael Mullin Why did Michael love this book?

This retelling of King Lear from the point of view of the king’s jester (or “Fool”) named Pocket is a fun read, but prepare yourself. If you’re not into bawdy humor, stay away. Personally, I found the vulgar irreverence funny, and seeing the tragic events of the original happen around this character who isn’t really affected by any of it gave the story a unique perspective.

This book is like Shakespeare told by Monty Python after the iconic troop is given the okay to proceed with a hard R-rating. The humor plays in both the small moments and the larger, thematic ones.  

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity,. . . If that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!'

So speaks Christopher Moore, one of America's funniest and bestselling authors, regarded as highly as classic satirists such as Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Read Fool and discover for yourself why this book has dominated bestseller lists across the world, and why it has reduced millions of grown men and women to tears of helpless laughter...


Book cover of Excalibur

Adam Lofthouse Author Of The Centurion’s Son

From my list on inspired me to start writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became obsessed with the ancient world at around seventeen, and have spent the subsequent years researching and gathering knowledge on all aspects of ancient life. It was through fiction that this love first blossomed and the yearning for books has not yet ceased. In 2015 I decided I didn’t want to just be a reader anymore, and I began work on what would in 2017 become my debut novel, The Centurion’s Son. I have no plans to stop any time soon.

Adam's book list on inspired me to start writing

Adam Lofthouse Why did Adam love this book?

I was about seventeen, at an airport waiting for a flight to Cyprus when I picked up this book whilst browsing. Didn’t realise at the time it would change my life forever. I read it three times in two weeks, despite finding out after the first time it was the third in a trilogy. I was hooked on the blood and the battles, the brotherhood of Arthur’s soldiers, the bygone era Bernard Cornwell seemed to so effortlessly breathe back to life. I haven’t looked back since.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A story of love, war, loyalty and betrayal, EXCALIBUR begins with the failure of Lancelot's rebellion and the ruin of Arthur's marriage to Guinevere. The Saxons, sensing the disunity of the Britons, seize the chance to destroy Arthur. The climax of the war comes with the legendary triumph at Mount Badon, and Arthur`s great victory. But the promises he made then come back to haunt him after the years of peace and glory.


Book cover of English Heritage Book of Shrines & Sacrifice

Miranda Aldhouse-Green Author Of Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain

From my list on Roman Britain and its religions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University. I have been writing books on later prehistoric and Romano-British and Roman provincial cults and customs since the 1980s, and my fascination with this subject remains undimmed. I have travelled all over the world as a visiting lecturer and in 2015 my book Bog Bodies Uncovered won two US Books of the Year awards. I have always been of the view that research is pointless unless it is shared and easily communicated, and so I try to avoid academic jargon and to present my publications both as accessible to general readers and as relevant to people at the cutting edge of their own research.

Miranda's book list on Roman Britain and its religions

Miranda Aldhouse-Green Why did Miranda love this book?

This well-illustrated and highly readable book (available in hardback and paperback) is a comprehensive discussion of archaeological evidence for sacred buildings in late Iron Age and Roman Britain: ranging from grand Classical public sanctuaries, such as the temple of Claudius at Colchester, to rural, more intimate shrines, such as the temple dedicated to Apollo Cunomaglus at Nettleton in Wiltshire. Many sanctuaries, particularly in south-west England, seem purposefully to have been built within a day’s walk of each other and (sometimes, perhaps) within sight of one another, and it is tempting to see these ‘chains of sanctity’ as pilgrim routes, akin to the Camino trails of southern France and northern Spain. Reconstruction drawings in this book cause the ruins of Roman Britain’s shrines to spring into life, and make it easy to imagine what it must have been like to visit and worship at these holy places. The finds, also, tell…

By Ann Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked English Heritage Book of Shrines & Sacrifice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on new findings over the last 40 years, this book explores the ritualistic and cultic practices in Britain during the transitional period between paganism and early Christianity. A major theme running through the book is the continuity, or otherwise, between the cult sites, symbolism and rituals of the different periods: Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman. In the last 40 years, shrines at Lydney, South Cadbury, Uley, Bath and Maiden Castle and the great Roman cemeteries outside Winchester and Dorchester, have been excavated, together with a great number of other religious sites dating from the Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman…


Book cover of The Crystal Cave

Tina Zee Author Of Fires of Brigantia

From my list on romantic Celtic Britain: Druids, Romans and female warriors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love British history. I am fascinated by ancient roots; legends and myths arising from around the Roman invasion. Stories of Boudicca, Casswallen, Celtic legends, and Arthurian tales hold me in a world of imaginings and anticipation. These exciting stories have been told and retold, but Cartimandua, Warrior Queen of Brigantia is new to me. She, a Yorkshire lass like me – led the largest tribe in Britain. I have become absorbed into the iron-age lives and loves of her Brigantia. The interwoven links between known facts and fantasy intrigue me. My favourite books here encouraged my journey of discovery; the old birthing the new. The legends from Britain grow.

Tina's book list on romantic Celtic Britain: Druids, Romans and female warriors

Tina Zee Why did Tina love this book?

Through the pages of this book, unfolds a tangible reality of the birth and boyhood of Merlin the magician, leading up to his central position in the legend of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

As I read, I saw how Stewart wove a story using some accepted historical facts and myths, to create something new and solid. I saw the way Stewart used mystical moments and magical spells to sit above common logic.

Her ability to write in this imaginative way makes her characters more believable. And I do believe it. I have feelings of satisfaction at the end of the book, which inspired me to write my own historical story.

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Crystal Cave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spellbinding story of Merlin's rise to power.

Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class - Daily Mail

So begins the story of Merlin, born the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess in fifth century Britain, a world ravaged by war. Small and neglected, with his mother unwilling to reveal his father's identity, Merlin must disguise his intelligence - and hide his occasional ability to know things before they happen - in order to keep himself safe.

While exploring the countryside near his home, Merlin stumbles across a cave filled with books and papers and hiding a room lined with crystals. It is…


Book cover of King Lear

Laurie Frankel Author Of One Two Three

From my list on how sisters are great but also a pain in your ass.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like books about big families, especially unusual ones, but I have only one sister and only one child, so when I set out to write about these families, I read about them first. We place so much importance on how kids are raised, what kind of childhood and home life and family they have growing up, what gifts and what challenges they’re bestowed by genetics, history, identity, society, circumstance. Siblings usually share all or at least most of these markers and yet turn into often wildly different adults. It’s also true that all those fine sibling balances – love/hate, adored/annoyed, admired/appalled, alike/different – are great fun to read and write.

Laurie's book list on how sisters are great but also a pain in your ass

Laurie Frankel Why did Laurie love this book?

When I first sat down to write a novel about three sisters, step one was to reread King Lear which is about exactly that. The three sisters in Lear are quite different from mine. Among other things, they like each other much less. But for that delicate sisterly balance between so-glad-I-have-you-to-share-the-burdens-of-an-aging-parent and I-might-actually-have-to-kill-you, nothing beats King Lear.

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Firelord

Catherine Wells Author Of Macbeatha

From my list on legendary characters from the British Isles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a graduate student in library science, I stumbled across an entry on Macbeth in a biographical dictionary. It stated he was actually a good king who ruled for seventeen years. Furthermore, he claimed the throne in his own name and that of his wife. I was hooked. I did extensive research trying to find the man behind the legend, and how the tale got twisted into what Shakespeare gave us. From Celtic, Norse, and English sources, I extrapolated the culture of 11th-century Scotland, and a man who might well have been the historical high king Macbeatha.

Catherine's book list on legendary characters from the British Isles

Catherine Wells Why did Catherine love this book?

This is perhaps my favorite historical novel ever, not only because of Godwin’s evocative prose (“Half a baby in a ditch.” Brrr!), but because it contains an extended section on the “little people,” the mound dwellers who predated the Celts in Britain. These people became the fairies, elves, and gnomes of legend, but in Firelord they are the last of a dying culture, trying desperately to survive in a changed world. They capture a wounded Arthur, and as they take him underground, the author’s voice alters radically. It brilliantly captures the alien nature of the mound dwellers and their hypnotic effect on Arthur. Only after Arthur leaves them behind does it return, like Arthur, to something familiar.

By Parke Godwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Artorious Pendragon, a young warrior-king destined to unite the shattered land of Britain, reaches unattainable heights, only to lose his heart and his kingdom to the greatest betrayal of all. Reprint.


Book cover of The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

This was one of the first Arthurian reference books and remains one of the best.

Its comprehensive scope, covering Arthurian legends and characters across many European literatures, provides answers to all possible questions about the world of Arthur. The format of short alphabetical entries is perfect for browsing – you will find all you need to know about the Bleeding Lance or the ‘Gargantuan Chronicles’ among many other lesser-known Arthurian curiosities.

I found this book invaluable when I was preparing my own book and I still dip into it when teaching students.

By Norris J Lacy (editor), Geoffrey Ashe (editor), Sandra Ness Ihle (editor) , Marianne E. Kalinke (editor) , Raymond H. Thompson (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discusses the literary, musical, and film versions of the story of King Arthur and surveys the characters, themes, and history of the Arthur legend


Book cover of The Forever King

Tyler R. Tichelaar Author Of Odin's Eye: A Marquette Time Travel Novel

From my list on time travel with characters who try to change history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of historical fiction set in Upper Michigan and a seventh-generation resident of Marquette, I’ve always wished I had a time machine so I could travel back to see what Upper Michigan looked like when my French voyageur ancestors traveled the Great Lakes in the 1600s and when my Marquette ancestors helped found the town in 1849. Since I haven’t learned how to invent a time machine yet, the next best thing was to write a time travel novel. To begin, I tried to pick one Marquette history event I wanted to change—the dramatic 1903 move of the Longyear Mansion from Marquette to Massachusetts.

Tyler's book list on time travel with characters who try to change history

Tyler R. Tichelaar Why did Tyler love this book?

Mark Twain’s King Arthur time travel novel led to numerous others.

While Twain’s novel is more of a veiled attempt to depict his own time, other authors have depicted Camelot as a utopian place and asked what the world would be like if it had not fallen. In The Forever King, a young boy, Arthur Blessing, turns out to be a reincarnated King Arthur. He travels back in time to Camelot to try to restore its past glory.

He failed in the past, but with the help of the Holy Grail, he is determined not to fail again. The novel led to two sequels. Like all these time travel novels, the goal is to change the past to create a better future. But utopias are always hard to achieve.

By Warren Murphy, Molly Cochran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a darkened house not far from the place where Camelot may once have stood, a madman schemes, plotting toward the day when he will wrest the cup that men call the Holy Grail from the boy who is its guardian. Arthur Blessing is no ordinary ten-year-old. The Grail is his by chance, this time, but the power to keep it - a power as ancient time itself - is his by right. Now he must stay alive, battling foul sorcery and indefatigable assassins, long enough to use that power.


Book cover of The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Maggie Freeman Author Of Castles

From my list on the magic of castles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of historical novels and primary literacy books, and a poet. I was born in Trinidad and live in London. So why am I writing about the magic of castles? I’ve loved visiting them since I was a child, when I’d run round them and imagine what had happened there. Back home, I’d immerse myself in reading legends and fairy stories—at bedtime, lying in my top bunk, I'd make up stories to entertain my sister in her bottom bunk. So it was natural to move on to writing fictionthe novel I’ve just completed is about King Canute. I’ve written primary literacy books for Collins, Oxford, and Ransom.

Maggie's book list on the magic of castles

Maggie Freeman Why did Maggie love this book?

This is a vivid, dramatic and well-paced version of the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It is set in a legendary time full of castles such as Tintagel, or as here: "Meanwhile Sir Lancelot had lain six days and six nights prisoned in the vault below Sir Meliagraunce’s castle, and every day there came a maiden who opened the trap and let food and drink down to him on the end of a silken cord. And every day she whispered to him, sweet and tempting…" I love the resonance of Sutcliff’s writing; rereading it just now, I couldn’t resist reading it out loud just for the beauty of the sound of the language—something I’m very conscious of because I write poetry.

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sword and the Circle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Rooted in folklore, medieval ideals of chivalry, and the last gallant strugglesof the British against the Saxon invaders, the legends of King Arthur have been told in song and story since the middle ages.

The Sword and the Circle tells of the birth of Arthur, the gift of Excalibur, the forming of the Round Table and the first noble quests of its knights until the arrival of Percival . . .


Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Terry Madden Author Of Three Wells of the Sea

From my list on mythic fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Celtic myth and history since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. I hope you enjoy these mythic fantasy books as much as I did!

Terry's book list on mythic fantasy novels

Terry Madden Why did Terry love this book?

I read this book so many years ago, but it has stayed with me. It struck me then, as it does now, as revolutionary in that it was one of the first retellings of the Arthurian myth from the female perspective.

I took a class on Arthurian Literature in university, and the tales of the period are obviously male-dominated. But The Mists of Avalon showed me a way into the female characters in the tale, and they are fascinating.

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Mists of Avalon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot - but seen through the eyes of Camelot's women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all...