The most recommended books on ancient Macedonia

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to Macedonia, and here are their favorite Macedonia books.
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Book cover of Lord of the Two Lands

Jeanne Reames Author Of Becoming

From my list on Alexander the Great.

Who am I?

Dr. Jeanne Reames is a professional historian, college professor, and specialist in ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great. She also earned a degree in creative writing and has published fiction and poetry. She’s been collecting fiction about Alexander the Great for almost 35 years, and previously managed the website Beyond Renault: Alexander the Great in Fiction since WW I, until retiring it after over ten years. She has (almost) every professionally published English-language novel about Alexander, and has penned several articles on Alexander in fiction, including “Alexander the Great and Hephaistion in Fiction after Stonewall,” for The Routledge Companion to the Reception of Ancient Greek and Roman Sexuality (forthcoming).

Jeanne's book list on Alexander the Great

Jeanne Reames Why did Jeanne love this book?

Opting to cover just a slice of Alexander’s campaign, Judith Tarr treats the period after the Battle of Issus down to his fateful trip to the Oracle of Ammon in Egypt. Being historical fantasy, magic is present, but Tarr (a trained historian) depicts it as understood by the ancient Egyptians. An Egyptian priestess, Meriamon, has been charged by her gods to bring Alexander to Egypt in order to eject the hated Persians and preserve her people. The novel also contains a love story between Meriamon and the fictional younger brother of Ptolemy—the same Ptolemy who would found a dynasty in Egypt after Alexander’s death. Lord of the Two Lands is a master class in how to utilize magic for historical fantasy in an authentic way.

By Judith Tarr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is 33 BC and Egypt lies under the yoke of Persia, ruled by governors appointed by the King of Kings. In the temple of Amon in Thebes lives Meriamon - the only living child of the Nectanebo, the last fully Egyptian Pharoah.


Book cover of Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

Jay Penner Author Of Regent Cleopatra

From my list on Cleopatra and ancient Egypt.

Who am I?

The genre I specialize in is Ancient Historical Fiction. I have always been fascinated by history, and my vacations often involve visiting ancient ruins. I’m an avid reader on various periods of our past, especially Egypt, Rome, Mesopotamia, and India, and I enjoy writing about them. On the topic of Egypt and Cleopatra — Egypt is one of my favorite civilizations, and Cleopatra is one of the more interesting figures. I wanted to give her a treatment I felt she deserved—as a capable administrator, brilliant, ruthless, and fighting the circumstances of her times.

Jay's book list on Cleopatra and ancient Egypt

Jay Penner Why did Jay love this book?

It is this book, about the successors of Alexander the Great, that inspired me to write my first novel, the Atlantis Papyrus. It is a great read—the pages feel less like an academic paper and more like an action novel and keeps one’s interest until the very end. I learned about so many fascinating figures in Alexander’s world I had never really known about and the tumultuous years following his death. In my work, I drew inspiration from some of the characters and events depicted in this book.

By James Romm,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ghost on the Throne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-two, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs—a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death—were jointly granted the kingship. But six of Alexander’s Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule “to the strongest,” fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander’s former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general…


Book cover of Alexander the Great

Thomas J. Berry Author Of Iron and Bronze

From my list on history that drops you into adventure.

Who am I?

I have always loved reading and feel a natural attraction to history and the lessons it can give us. I want to learn something new whenever I pick up a book but also enjoy the story and characters as well. Since 2010, I have authored six historical novels of my own and am working on my seventh. I carefully weave years of extensive research into a fast-paced, exciting story that pushes all the right buttons! Intrigue, love, fear, and hope are integral parts of my novels, and I hope along the way, my readers will gain a new insight into a different culture or era they never knew before.  

Thomas' book list on history that drops you into adventure

Thomas J. Berry Why did Thomas love this book?

Of all the characters in history, few have accomplished as much as Alexander the Great. It has been over two thousand years since the young man from Macedonia set out with his father’s army and conquered the entire Persian and Egyptian empires in just six short years. Philip Freeman brings this incredible story to life in his book Alexander the Great. I was mesmerized by the politics and behind-the-scenes machinations of this man and the court he controlled as he marched his army across the scorching deserts and inhospitable terrain. The young king was forced to confront both traitors in his midst and enemies at the point of his spear, all the while keeping his iron grip on a rebellious populous. A lively read!

By Philip Freeman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon) was one of history's great generals, a man studied by Caesar and Napoleon, among hundreds of others. He was born to the king of Macedon and educated by Aristotle, whose inquiring mind Alexander appreciated. After his father, Philip II, was assassinated, the 19-year-old Alexander succeeded to the throne and swiftly consolidated power. Over the next 13 years until his death at age 32, Alexander created one of the great empires of history, covering an area as far south as Egypt and as far east as Afghanistan and India. Most of the world that…


Book cover of Alexander: Child of a Dream

Christian Zamora Salamanca Author Of The legacy of Sparta

From my list on the great Spartan Nation.

Who am I?

My passion for the Spartans and ancient history in general comes from the iconic idea that those men needed to have a lot of courage to face the battles they faced and survive that. These soldiers faced terrible deaths in every battle to defend their families, their lands, their cities. More specifically, the ability of the Spartans to understand that through suffering and lack they could become stronger even if that meant suffering it in their flesh or seeing their children suffer. The different ways of understanding the world by the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Celts... is something incredible.

Christian's book list on the great Spartan Nation

Christian Zamora Salamanca Why did Christian love this book?

This series of three books are very exciting. From beginning to end the reader is immersed in Alejandro's life in an impressive way. A recommended reading both as entertainment and at the level of historical and cultural learning. The story is well documented and explained, helping you feel what the different characters feel.

By Valerio Massimo Manfredi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first title in an international blockbuster trilogy of brutal passion and grand adventure in ancient Greece.This is the story of a boy, born to a great king - Philip of Macedon - and his sensuous queen, Olympias. It tells of the stern discipline of Philip and the wild passions of Olympias, and how, together, they formed Alexander, a young man of immense, unfathomable potential, capable of subjugating the known world to his power, and thought of by his contemporaries as a god. Alexander's swift ascent to manhood, as a protege of Aristotle and close friend of Ptolemy and Hephiaston,…


Book cover of Fantasy Lover

Katja Desjarlais Author Of Connection

From my list on paranormal romance to binge read late in the night.

Who am I?

While I can trace my love of romance books back to the bookmobile where I checked out every Sweet Dreams and V.C. Andrews book I could every Wednesday, I blame Anne Rice for my lifelong obsession with vampires, shifters, and alphas that go bump in the night. Paranormal romance has been my go-to for two decades, with contemporary romance coming in a close second in recent years. Although I write the stories I want to read, the books on this list have inspired me. The emotions and devotion they cultivate are what I aspire to create with my own books and I hope you love these as much as I do.

Katja's book list on paranormal romance to binge read late in the night

Katja Desjarlais Why did Katja love this book?

Sometimes I want to be emotionally destroyed and when I do, this is the series I return to. Kenyon has a way of developing her fantasy world and those who inhabit it so fully that reading this series feels less like an escape and more like an immersion. This series is a different take on the vampire genre, bringing in Greek mythology to expand the lore of Kenyon’s world. The heroines are strong, the heroes are perfectly flawed, and this is the series I turn to when I want to feel every emotion on the spectrum. 

By Sherrilyn Kenyon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It might sound like a man's favorite fantasy - to live forever, destined to be the lover of thousands of women. But for Julian of Macedon, it's a nightmare. Once he was a proud Spartan general; now he's a love-slave, his essence magically held captive in a book, cursed to spend all eternity pleasing women. Then, one day, Grace Alexander summons Julian to fulfill her passionate dreams - and sees beyond the fantasy to the man himself.

Long years as a sex therapist, listening to other people's bedroom problems, have taken a lot of the fun out of the physical…


Book cover of The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander

David Austin Beck Author Of The Greek Prince of Afghanistan

From my list on understanding the Scythians.

Who am I?

I'm an author who believes that history contains an endless number of stories of how our past peers dealt with and contributed to the tension, fusion, and reinvention that is human existence. When writing The Greek Prince of Afghanistan, which focuses on the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom of ancient Afghanistan, I included a Scythian character, because I felt the novel’s story, like humanity’s story, is best told through multiple perspectives. The above books helped me greatly in that effort.

David's book list on understanding the Scythians

David Austin Beck Why did David love this book?

Arrian is one of the few primary sources used to illuminate the campaigns of Alexander the Great. It is also one of the few primary sources to focus directly on the Scythians – in this case, the Saka (an eastern group of Scythians). After conquering the Bactrian region, Alexander faced war with the Scythians, as well as local rebellions, which the Scythians played a role in. Arrian’s account is an important source for understanding the Scythians as it speaks directly to the clash of an army built for pitched battle against an army build for more mobile warfare.

By James Romm, Robert B. Strassler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander, widely considered the most authoritative history of the brilliant leader’s great conquests, is the latest addition to the acclaimed Landmark series.
 
After twelve years of hard-fought campaigns, Alexander the Great controlled a vast empire that was bordered by the Adriatic sea to the west and modern-day India to the east. Arrian, himself a military commander, combines his firsthand experience of battle with material from Ptolemy’s memoirs and other ancient sources to compose a singular portrait of Alexander. This vivid and engaging new translation of Arrian will fascinate readers who are interested in classical studies, the history…


Book cover of Aristotle Detective

Fred Van Lente Author Of Never Sleep

From my list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II.

Who am I?

I love historical fiction because it’s the next best thing to the invention of time travel. Books can immerse you in a time and a place in a way that comics and movies can only gesture at. For books like Never Sleep I even make sure to cook the foods my characters are eating, to make sure the era is evoked for the readers in all five sense. I love fantasy and science fiction as the next person, but the idea of transporting people to times and places that actually happened, to the best of my skill as a dramatist and researcher, is a challenge I find irresistible as an author. 

Fred's book list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II

Fred Van Lente Why did Fred love this book?

Strap on your toga, Watsonus, the game is afoot…or something like that.

Who needs Consulting Detective when you’ve got the literal inventor of logic on the case? The ancient Greek philosopher gets drawn into a messy case of murder defending the family of a former student.

I read this just after coming back from Athens—I wish I had it while I was there to compare the mentions in the text to real-life sites! 

By Margaret Doody,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Athens, 332BC - an unhappy city under the rule of the Macedonian 'barbarian' Alexander the Great. In the midst of this unrest, Boutades, an eminent citizen, is found brutally murdered. Suspicion falls heavily on young Philemon, and, by Athenian law, his cousin Stephanos is elected to defend his name in court. In desperation, Stephanos seeks assistance from Aristotle, his former mentor - and Aristotle turns Detective. The young, inexperienced boy and the great philosopher form a classically uneven partnership. Their efforts culminate in the gripping trial scene when Stephanos uses all the powers of rhetoric and oratory instilled in him…


Book cover of Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire

Nicole Sallak Anderson Author Of Origins: Song of the King's Heart

From my list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Who am I?

Since 7th grade, I’ve been reading and researching about ancient civilizations like Greece, the Mayans, Incans, and of course, Egypt, yet I never thought I’d write a book, much less a trilogy set thousands of years ago. While researching rebellions for another novel, I found the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE, as well as Ankhmakis’s story. Given my lifelong love of ancient mythologies, I spent the next two years collecting books about ancient Egypt. These books are but a small sampling I collected during that time in my life, and I’m so glad to share them with you.

Nicole's book list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did Nicole love this book?

The forty years after Alexander the Great’s death are rarely studied in history class, yet key to understanding the Ptolemaic rule in Egypt that followed.

Few books have ever covered the warfare waged among his generals as they fought one another for his empire, each one hoping to be the next Alexander, and each falling short. Instead of creating an empire, Alexander’s generals created a world of war, using the native populations of Syria, Indo-Kush, Egypt, and more as fodder in their quest to become Emperor.

Dividing the Spoils is an action-packed read, even if it is nonfiction. I couldn’t put it down.

By Robin Waterfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alexander the Great conquered an enormous empire--stretching from Greece to the Indian subcontinent--and his death triggered forty bloody years of world-changing events. These were years filled with high adventure, intrigue, passion, assassinations, dynastic marriages, treachery, shifting alliances, and mass slaughter on battlefield after battlefield. And while the men fought on the field, the women, such as Alexander's mother Olympias, schemed from their palaces and pavilions.

Dividing the Spoils serves up a fast-paced narrative that captures this turbulent time as it revives the memory of the Successors of Alexander and their great contest for his empire. The Successors, Robin Waterfield shows,…


Book cover of Fire from Heaven

Jeanne Reames Author Of Becoming

From my list on Alexander the Great.

Who am I?

Dr. Jeanne Reames is a professional historian, college professor, and specialist in ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great. She also earned a degree in creative writing and has published fiction and poetry. She’s been collecting fiction about Alexander the Great for almost 35 years, and previously managed the website Beyond Renault: Alexander the Great in Fiction since WW I, until retiring it after over ten years. She has (almost) every professionally published English-language novel about Alexander, and has penned several articles on Alexander in fiction, including “Alexander the Great and Hephaistion in Fiction after Stonewall,” for The Routledge Companion to the Reception of Ancient Greek and Roman Sexuality (forthcoming).

Jeanne's book list on Alexander the Great

Jeanne Reames Why did Jeanne love this book?

Any recommendation list of novels about Alexander must include Mary Renault, queen of Greek historical fiction. Fire from Heaven covers his childhood/youth and remains many readers’ initial introduction to him. Her knowledge of Greece, both the land and its history, is rich, and she was first to depict, in a positive way, Alexander’s relationship with Hephaistion as more than friendship. Ironically, the book’s publication coincided with the NYC Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. Yet however progressive her view of homoerotic attachments, she paints a troublingly misogynistic portrait of Alexander’s mother Olympias. The book contains a few errors as several critical archaeological discoveries were 10+ years in the future, but historical novelists can’t be faulted for forthcoming finds. Her second novel about Alexander, The Persian Boy, was published in 1972.

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Alexander Trilogy contains some of Renault's finest writing. Lyrical, wise, compelling: the novels are a wonderful imaginative feat - Sarah Waters

Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind an empire that stretched from Greece to India. Fire From Heaven tells the story of the years that shaped him. His mother, Olympias, and his father, King Philip of Macedon, fought each other for their son's loyalty, teaching Alexander politics and vengeance. His love for the youth Hephaistion taught him trust, while Aristotle's tutoring provoked his mind and fuelled his aspirations. Killing his first man in battle…


Book cover of The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great

Robert Patrick Lewis Author Of The Pact

From Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Military history wonk

Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Robert Patrick Lewis Why did Robert love this book?

Those of us who have served in war and combat know the most powerful aspect of the experience that stays with us forever – the bonds forged between Brothers in Arms through the greatest of adversity.

In this first-person narrative recounting of Alexander the Great’s conquests of the known world, Pressfield not only outlines the strategic genius that made Alex of Macedon so successful, but his leadership style and warrior ethos that motivated his men to follow him to the ends of the earth. For fans of military history, strategy, and the bonds forged between warfighters, this book is a must.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. So begins Alexander’s extraordinary confession on the eve of his greatest crisis of leadership. By turns heroic and calculating, compassionate and utterly merciless, Alexander recounts with a warrior’s unflinching eye for detail the blood, the terror, and the tactics of his greatest battlefield victories. Whether surviving his father’s brutal assassination, presiding over a massacre, or weeping at the death of a beloved comrade-in-arms, Alexander never denies the hard realities of the code by which he lives: the virtues of war. But as much as he was feared by…