The best books about the Holy Grail

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to the Holy Grail, and here are their favorite Holy Grail books.
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What type of Holy Grail book?


War in Heaven

By Charles Williams,

Book cover of War in Heaven

Stephen Hayes Author Of The Enchanted Grove

From the list on set in this world with relics from the past.

Who am I?

I have degrees in history and Christian theology, and enjoy science fiction and fantasy stories, whether set on earth, or in other worlds, whether real (other planets of our solar system), hypothetical (possible planets in other galaxies), or imaginary (Narnia, Wonderland). But I like those set in this world best, and value them especially for the insights they give into life, the universe, and everything. As C.S. Lewis once said to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, if we want more of the kind of stories we like, we shall have to write them ourselves. The books I’ve recommended are the kind I like, and I’ve tried to write a few more. 

Stephen's book list on set in this world with relics from the past

Discover why each book is one of Stephen's favorite books.

Why did Stephen love this book?

Charles Williams’s books have been described as “supernatural thrillers.” Many later authors have tried to use the theme of a recently-rediscovered ancient holy relic, which various people want to get hold of for good or evil purposes, in this case the Holy Grail or Graal, but few have done it as well as Charles Williams. I’ve read it at least five times, and I also think it has one of the most attention-grabbing opening lines in fiction: “The telephone bell was ringing wildly, but without result, since there was no-one in the room but the corpse.”

By Charles Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"War in Heaven" is a horrific romance, with many mythical creatures present. Instead of creating a unique secondary fantasy world or switching between two universes, Williams allows the supernatural to invade his modern world. This allows him to explore the influence of another reality on different characters. The object that guides the supernatural to the natural in this novel is the Holy Grail

Skin Game

By Jim Butcher,

Book cover of Skin Game

Wayne Thomas Batson Author Of Dreamtreaders

From the list on fantasy with a unique ingredient or twist.

Who am I?

I believe with all of my heart that each one of us was created with two achingly powerful inner drives: 1) the longing for new worlds and 2) the desperate urge to do something meaningful. I simply could never believe that human beings are all simply cosmic accidents produced by some sort of cosmic casino. I believe God created people and gave us each an instinct to seek our true home. The books I write—all 22 of them—are tales of flawed individuals, thrown into unexpected, life-changing events, and given the chance to journey through many astoundingly lush worlds, all in an effort to do the seemingly impossible.

Wayne's book list on fantasy with a unique ingredient or twist

Discover why each book is one of Wayne's favorite books.

Why did Wayne love this book?

Harry Dresden is a detective in modern day Chicago. He’s also a wizard.

Jim Butcher twists the fantasy genre by setting the story in modern times but creating an international subculture of vampires, Sidhe, archangels, demons, bigfoot, and pretty much any other mysterious bit of folklore. Heck, you’ll even meet Hades!

This series has hooked me from the beginning but not just because of all the mystical, cool, fantasy, creepy, awesomeness. It’s the cast of characters that connect so deeply with me. In Skin Game, Harry begins to fear that the use of his power is changing him, turning him into something of a monster. In a sense, he’s questioning his humanity and his heart.

I have gone through this self-exploration so many times. When I read Skin Games, I found myself in tears because Harry’s plight so closely connected with my own. It was deeply encouraging. Oh, and by…

By Jim Butcher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. As Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it's something awful.

This time, it's worse than that. Mab's involved Harry in a smash-and-grab heist run by one of his most despised enemies to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure horde in the world - which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Dresden's always been tricky, but he's going to have…

The Da Vinci Code

By Dan Brown,

Book cover of The Da Vinci Code

Paul Indigo Author Of Love Deleted

From the list on story ideas with characters you fall in love with.

Who am I?

I’m a storyteller who loves ‘oh my gosh’ ideas. Something that, the moment I hear about it, it captivates me. I also love characters who are deeply heart-warming and pleasurable to be around. For me, delving into the intimacy of a character’s mind and their shifting relationships with others is a pleasure. This is why I’m so attracted to contemporary domestic family issues or love stories with living, breathing characters. By pairing it with a puzzling or shocking wow of an idea to investigate, I can explore my character’s unique world and set it at odds with something that threatens that existence.

Paul's book list on story ideas with characters you fall in love with

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

Revelations about the Holy Grail is a truly big idea. I love fascinating facts, so that this was written by a teacher is evident in the way the story unfolds.

We learn surprising information (or theories written as fact about Christianity) interwoven into this tale which makes it riveting. Also, we’re energised by the fast pace, delighted by the treasure hunt, and caught up in the Q&As that unfold as we learn what the Grail actually is and what it means. 

The mini-lectures woven in add an extra dimension to a story that makes it meaty, nourishing us with knowledge while at the same time entertaining us. A fabulous example of sleight-of-hand storytelling that keeps those pages turning.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Da Vinci Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes.

As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci - and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vault of history.

Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the…

Holy Blood, Holy Grail

By Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent

Book cover of Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Karen Martin Author Of The Bringer of Happiness

From the list on writing about death, religion, and spirituality.

Who am I?

Our history is spoken through the voice of the conqueror – notably white male. My work seeks to balance our narratives through insight from women’s perspectives. I support my creative writing with extensive research in history, archeology, and myths, and include in situ interpretations of the relevant landscape. There are many truths to be told, not simply one ordained story and I wish to shine the light on stories that have been hidden and/or silenced. The themed series title, Women Unveiled, pertains to this.

Karen's book list on writing about death, religion, and spirituality

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

I first read this book while at university. I re-read it after touring the Langue d’Òc region of France focusing on the folklore surrounding Mary Magdalene. This book advances the hypothesis that the historical Jesus married Mary Magdalene and travelled to the south of France, where their children married into nobility and established what became known as the Merovingian dynasty. This book provided a source of information as well as support, given my subject matter and the two entwining histories: the biblical era of Jesus and the 13th C siege of Montsegur. Its extensive bibliography provided a rich source of research, including academic articles, essays, and books.

By Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Holy Blood, Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is the traditional, accepted view of the life of Christ in some way incomplete?

• Is it possible Christ did not die on the cross?
• Is it possible Jesus was married, a father, and that his bloodline still exists?
• Is it possible that parchments found in the South of France a century ago reveal one of the best-kept secrets of Christendom?
• Is it possible that these parchments contain the very heart of the mystery of the Holy Grail?

According to the authors of this extraordinarily provocative, meticulously researched book, not only are these things possible — they…

Merlin and the Grail

By Robert de Boron, Nigel Bryant (translator),

Book cover of Merlin and the Grail: The Trilogy of Arthurian Prose Romances attributed to Robert de Boron

Anne Lawrence-Mathers Author Of The True History of Merlin the Magician

From the list on Merlin and magic.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by magic and its history since I was at school. One of my first Saturday jobs was as a shelf stacker in Portsmouth Central Library, and I was delighted to discover that the library had a special collection on the occult and magic. I spent as much time dipping into the books as I did shelving them! That interest was sharpened by holiday visits to places with links to magical people and events in the past – and I am very grateful for the patience of my family. I now research and teach medieval magic at Reading University and enjoy discussing spells and instruction manuals on various types of magic.  

Anne's book list on Merlin and magic

Discover why each book is one of Anne's favorite books.

Why did Anne love this book?

Merlin as the Antichrist?! 

Robert de Boron was a medieval French writer of romances who made Merlin a central figure in the story of the Arthurian world and almost the inventor of the quest for the Holy Grail.

Medieval romances are a bit of a niche read, but I want to tell everyone about this version of Merlin. The Romance of Merlin actually starts in Hell, with the demons plotting to win the ongoing battle against God by bringing about the birth of Antichrist. 

The chosen demon expresses squeamishness at the idea of seducing a human woman but does his duty – and the result is Merlin! 

These stories helped make Merlin the time-travelling superhero of later romances, and the prophet who influenced Joseph of Arimathea’s decision to come to Britain with the Grail.  

By Robert de Boron, Nigel Bryant (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This trilogy establishes a provenance for the Holy Grail and, through the figure of Merlin, links Joseph of Arimathea with mythical British history and with the knightly adventures of Perceval's Grail quest.

It is hard to overstate the importance of this trilogy of prose romances in the development of the legend of the Holy Grail and in the evolution of Arthurian literature as a whole. They give a crucial new impetus to the story of the Grail by establishing a provenance for the sacred vessel - and for the Round Table itself - in the Biblical past; and through the…

The Archer's Tale

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Archer's Tale

J. K. Swift Author Of Acre

From the list on with realistic fight scenes.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of J. K.'s favorite books.

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…

The Forever King

By Warren Murphy, Molly Cochran,

Book cover of The Forever King

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

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

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Tyler's favorite books.

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.

The Art of Memoir

By Mary Karr,

Book cover of The Art of Memoir

Helena de Bres Author Of Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir

From the list on to read if you're thinking of writing a memoir.

Who am I?

I’m a philosophy professor who started writing memoir in her mid-thirties. I love the similarities and the differences between memoir and philosophy (to sum it up: both are ways of making sense of your experience, but memoirists are allowed to tell stories, make jokes and break your heart.) On the trail of my obsession with the two, I’ve written a book on the philosophy of memoir and a memoir about philosophy. My sister calls them “your weird book twins.” Whatever! The whole experience has felt like falling in love, and I now want to encourage everyone to give personal writing a shot. 

Helena's book list on to read if you're thinking of writing a memoir

Discover why each book is one of Helena's favorite books.

Why did Helena love this book?

This book is a blast to read and also packed with insight (the Holy Grail, no?) It’s a collection of short chapters on a wide range of questions that either a baby or seasoned memoirist might ask. How do I find my voice? How do I organize my material? Am I betraying my family? (When Karr asked her own mom if she minded being outed as a knife-wielding alcoholic who set her children’s toys on fire, Mrs. Karr apparently replied: “Oh hell, the whole town knew about that.”) Karr draws on her extensive experience as a best-selling memoirist and teacher of memoir, serving up hard-won wisdom and concrete practical advice. Reading The Art of Memoir is like trapping a celebrity genius in a hotel bar and getting the unvarnished version. You’ll love it.

By Mary Karr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and "black belt sinner," providing a unique window…

Smoke and Mirrors

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions

Matt Durand Author Of White Space: Short Fictions

From the list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism.

Who am I?

I’ve been a lifelong lover of short fiction, novels, and comic books since I can remember. Ideas were always king, leading me to a career in the creative arts as a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of advertising. Much of the core of what I did for advertising—crafting brief tales to engage with an audience in a creative/unique way—translated over well to when I began writing my own short stories. And all of the book recommendations here directly inspired me to write White Space.

Matt's book list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism

Discover why each book is one of Matt's favorite books.

Why did Matt love this book?

I love this collection of short stories for their pure creativity and diversity of the themes and genres explored. Each story exudes the unique and elegant style that has set Neil Gaiman in a class of his own. The story "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" is one of my favorite short stories ever written. It’s a dark comedy that displays a masterclass in condensed fiction. This book opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of how creative a writer can be.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***This short fiction collection includes 'Chivalry', this year's Radio 4 Neil Gaiman Christmas Day special, starring Glenda Jackson and Kit Harington. This is the story of Mrs Whitaker, who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop.***

Open your mind to one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation...

'Gaiman is god in the universe of story' - Stephen Fry

'There's no one quite like Neil Gaiman' - George R. R. Martin

An elderly widow finds the Holy Grail beneath an old fur coat. A stray cat fights and refights a terrible nightly battle to protect his unwary…

The Quest of the Holy Grail

By Unknown, Pauline M. Matarasso (translator),

Book cover of The Quest of the Holy Grail

Graeme Davis Author Of Thor: Viking God of Thunder

From the list on mythology and its impact on the world.

Who am I?

Graeme Davis has been fascinated by myth and folklore ever since he saw Ray Harryhausen’s creatures in Jason and the Argonauts as a child. While studying archaeology at Durham University, he became far too involved with a new game called Dungeons & Dragons and went on to a career in fantasy games. He has written game sourcebooks on various ancient cultures and their myths, and worked as a researcher and consultant on multiple video games with historical and mythological settings.

Graeme's book list on mythology and its impact on the world

Discover why each book is one of Graeme's favorite books.

Why did Graeme love this book?

This is an early example of mythology being used for a deliberate purpose: in this case, the promotion of Christian chivalric virtue. Full of dreamlike images and allegories, it also had a great influence on early fantasy writing, even if those creating early fantasy tales had never read it. And then, of course, there’s Monty Python.

By Unknown, Pauline M. Matarasso (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quest of the Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Composed by an unknown author in early thirteenth-century France, The Quest of the Holy Grail is a fusion of Arthurian legend and Christian symbolism, reinterpreting ancient Celtic myth as a profound spiritual fable. It recounts the quest of the knights of Camelot - the simple Perceval, the thoughtful Bors, the rash Gawain, the weak Lancelot and the saintly Galahad - as they journey through danger and temptation to reach the elusive Holy Grail. But only one of them is judged worthy to see the mysteries within the sacred vessel, and look upon the ineffable. Enfused with tragic grandeur and an…

The Thistle and the Grail

By Robin Jenkins,

Book cover of The Thistle and the Grail

Stephen Morrow Author Of The People's Game? Football, Finance and Society

From the list on football as a game, as business, and as community.

Who am I?

Growing up I was fanatical about football - playing, watching, reading and talking about it. I was also a little obsessed with its numbers, and apparently liked to recalculate league tables and goal differences in my head as the results came in on the BBC vidiprinter. Fast forward to University in the 1980s - a time when studying football’s business aspects was not common - I wrote my dissertation on the ‘Capital structure of Scottish football’. A Scottish perspective has remained present in much of my work, and I hope it also allows a little more distance when reflecting on the success and challenges faced by football in England.

Stephen's book list on football as a game, as business, and as community

Discover why each book is one of Stephen's favorite books.

Why did Stephen love this book?

This novel gets to the heart of football’s importance to communities, in this case a small Scottish industrial town beset by poverty and unemployment in the 1950s.

In this comic novel Jenkins writes simply but evocatively about football, about its emotion, and its beauty.

But perhaps more importantly, his writing focuses on the town’s people and their relationships, with each other and with the town’s Junior football team as they dream of winning the Scottish Junior Cup.

While it would be unwise to overly romanticize how football was in the past, at the same time looking back does make you question whether everything about the modern game should be interpreted as progress.

By Robin Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Within the severe and depressed slums of Drumsagart, rife with unemployment and discontent, the members of Thistle cling to their game as an escape. And when they actually start winning, a momentum grows up in the community around them, as they come to represent ambition and hope. The Holy Grail of football, the Scottish Junior Cup, glitters at the end of a string of matches and suddenly the entire town of Drumsagart is depending on it...