The most recommended books about monarchy

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to monarchy, and here are their favorite monarchy books.
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What type of monarchy book?


Book cover of The Earliest English Kings

MJ Porter Author Of Son of Mercia

From my list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of novels set in Saxon England. I studied the era at both undergraduate and graduate levels and never meant to become a historical fiction writer. But I developed a passion to tell the story of the last century of Early England through the eyes of the earls of Mercia, as opposed to the more well-known, Earl Godwin. I’m still writing that series but venture further back in time as well. I might have a bit of an obsession with the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. I’m fascinated by the whole near-enough six hundred years of Saxon England before the watershed moment of 1066, after which, quite frankly, everything went a bit downhill. 

MJ's book list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England

MJ Porter Why did MJ love this book?

I’ve owned this book for over thirty years, and it’s still my ‘go-to-book’ for the earliest of the English kingdoms—charting the centuries when Northumbria, Mercia, and then Wessex were in the ascendant during Saxon England. It’s so readable and engaging. Without it, I don’t believe my passion for the era would ever have gained flight. And it’s not that it shies away from the more complicated arguments about source material and complexities in the narrative record. No, it does all that and much, much more. I still believe it to be one of the best books on the period, and I know for a fact, that many other Saxon historical fiction authors have this book on their bookshelves.

By D. P. Kirby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Earliest English Kings is a fascinating survey of Anglo-Saxon History from the sixth century to the eighth century and the death of King Alfred. It explains and explores the 'Heptarchy' or the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, as well as the various peoples within them, wars, religion, King Offa and the coming of the Vikings. With maps and family trees, this book reveals the complex, distant and tumultuous events of Anglo-Saxon politics.

Book cover of The English Constitution: The Principles of a Constitutional Monarchy

Gerard N. Magliocca Author Of American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment

From my list on constitutional history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books are about American constitutional history, especially the parts or people that are typically overlooked. In these polarized times, there is both wisdom and comfort that can be found in looking at our past. One lesson from looking back is that there was no “golden age” in which Americans all got along. Democracy is sometimes messy, sometimes violent, and almost always involves fierce disagreements. Judged at a distance, there is great drama and great satisfaction in looking at how prior generations addressed their problems. I hope you enjoy the books on my list!

Gerard's book list on constitutional history

Gerard N. Magliocca Why did Gerard love this book?

This is the best book ever written about constitutions. Bagehot was a journalist and brought a common-sense take to constitutional history that lawyers often lack. He focuses on how the Victorian Constitution and how it evolved from England’s history, but also compares that set of customs and institutions to the American Constitution in the aftermath of the Civil War. It’s a quick read that will really get you thinking.  

By Walter Bagehot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The English Constitution


Walter Bagehot

The English Constitution is a book by Walter Bagehot. First serialised in The Fortnightly Review between 15 May 1865 and 1 January 1867, and later published in book form in the latter year. It explores the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy, and the contrasts between British and American government. The book became a standard work which was translated into several languages.

While Walter Bagehot's references to the Parliament of the United Kingdom have become dated, his observations on the monarchy are seen as central to…

Book cover of Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy

William Kuhn Author Of Mrs Queen Takes the Train

From my list on the modern British monarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an American who was taken by his parents to live in England for a year when he was a kid of eleven. The accents? The traditions? The school uniforms? All the traffic tangled up for a day because the Queen was riding to the State Opening of Parliament? It frightened me. It repelled me. I ended up loving it. I wrote my PhD thesis on the Victorian monarchy. A substantial part of all three of my first nonfiction books are about it. My novel on the current Queen of England has been a bestseller. It’s all about setting out to master what first strikes you as incomprehensible.

William's book list on the modern British monarchy

William Kuhn Why did William love this book?

This is the first history that details how the late nineteenth-century monarchy became an engine of philanthropy. As kings and queens were sidelined, or reduced to insignificance, in political transactions, they increased their role in assisting non-profit institutions that contributed to the public good. They gave their patronage, for example, to hospitals, veterans’ associations, and civic charities. This gave the royal family an outsized influence in the do-good world, and this itself increased the respect in which the monarchy was held by people of all parties. Frank Prochaska is an American historian of Great Britain, so he brings a healthy objectivity to literature about royalty that is sometimes too credulous and deferential.

By Frank Prochaska,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the constitutional importance of the monarchy has declined, the British royal family has forged a new and popular role for itself as patron, promoter, and fund-raiser for the underprivileged and the deserving. This book-the first to study the evolution of the "welfare monarchy"-tells the story of the royal family's charitable and social work from the eighteenth century to the present.

Drawing on previously unused material from the Royal Archives, Frank Prochaska shows that the monarchy's welfare work has raised its prestige and reaffirmed its importance at the same time that it has brought vitality and success to a vast…

Book cover of The Way of Shadows

Christopher Patterson Author Of A Chance Beginning

From my list on broken and struggling heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe that in our real world, most heroes are like any other human, exhibiting the struggles, the moral dilemmas, and the psychological battles any human would be. And that is what makes a hero so great. They rise above the internal and external struggles to become something better and something others can look up to. Heroes are not supposed to be Superman. They are Batman, struggling with the darkness of trauma and the weight of responsibility like everyone else. 

Christopher's book list on broken and struggling heroes

Christopher Patterson Why did Christopher love this book?

Durzo Blint is an assassin and the last person anyone would suspect would be a hero and liberate the world from a number of tyrannical and lunatic dictators and rulers, but as a broken man, always questioning his own sense of morality and worth, he becomes the perfect man for the job, unclouded by a need for fame or fortune. 

By Brent Weeks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From NYT bestselling author Brent Weeks comes the first novel in his breakout fantasy trilogy in which a young boy trains under the city's most legendary and feared assassin, Durzo Blint.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art -- and he is the city's most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly -- and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and…

Book cover of The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore

Sarah Covington Author Of The Devil from Over the Sea: Remembering and Forgetting Oliver Cromwell in Ireland

From my list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a professor of history at the Graduate Center and Queens College at the City University of New York, where I'm also director of the Irish Studies program and the MA program in Biography and Memoir. My specialty, covered in five books that I’ve authored or co-edited, is English and Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; my new book represents the culmination of a decade’s research devoted to Ireland. In addition to teaching British and Irish history, I offer more unusual and wide-ranging classes including the history of the devil, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of the body. My life is divided between New York City and mid-coast Maine.

Sarah's book list on history’s villains and their surprising reputations

Sarah Covington Why did Sarah love this book?

The extent of an evil leader’s influence can be measured in terms of whether he or she enters popular folklore. In the case of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian “grozny” in “Ivan Grozny” is actually translated as “awe-inspiring,” though the “terrible” tag has ensured that the czar would be remembered for his paranoia, brutality, and alleged insanity.

In folklore it was different: as Perrie’s book demonstrates, Ivan was a sympathetic figure through the twentieth century, in tales that recounted his triumphs in war or his repenting after an act of cruelty. Perrie attributes the favorable views of Ivan to “popular monarchism,” but he was also a figure whose image could be grafted onto existing folkloric archetypes to powerful effect.

By Maureen Perrie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ivan the Terrible has long been a controversial figure. Some historians regard him as a crazed and evil tyrant; while others (especially Soviet scholars of the Stalin period) have viewed him as a progressive and far-sighted statesman. The folklore about Ivan has played an important part in these debates. Was Ivan's depiction in folklore favourable or hostile? And how far can it be regarded as evidence of contemporary popular attitudes towards the tsar? In this unusual and far-ranging study, Maureen Perrie discusses the nature of Ivan's image in Russian folklore; its historical basis; its development; and the controversies which have…

Book cover of Illusion

Hadeer Elsbai Author Of The Daughters of Izdihar

From my list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, many of the female characters in the media I engaged with were thin stereotypes (and some still are). Slowly, culture shifted towards the “strong female character, which quickly became a stereotype of its own. As culture shifts again to more nuanced female characters, many of them are slapped with the label of “unlikeable.” The label usually means that the character isn’t a tired stereotype and is complex, multifaceted, and interesting. Also, nearly all the time, the same traits admired in a male character are despised in a female character (think of Alicent Hightower, whose moral complexity would certainly be celebrated in a man). 

Hadeer's book list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters

Hadeer Elsbai Why did Hadeer love this book?

In this world inspired by the French Revolution, we witness the start of the revolution, the fall of the monarchy, and the reign of terror that follows, all through the eyes of Eliste vo Derivalle, a young noblewoman who starts out the book highly prejudiced against non-nobles and slowly learns humility by the end of the novel.

Having grown up immensely privileged, Eliste lacks useful skills and is constantly dependent on others. Her entitlement for the majority of the novel makes her difficult to warm to, but she's not an inherently bad person: She's clever, resilient, spirited, and treats her maid kindly. As she's put through the wringer, she unlearns her privilege and emerges a far more interesting woman trying to work out what it means to be in solidarity with others.

By Paula Volsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Arriving in the capital city of Sherreen to take her place at court, Miss Eliste vo Derrivale is suddenly stripped of her rank, home, and family during v'Aleur's reign of terror

Book cover of The Sword of the Land

Rachanee Lumayno Author Of Heir of Amber and Fire

From my list on awesome fantasy you may not have heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fantasy is my favorite genre, and honestly, I’m pretty deep in it. Not only do I read a lot of fantasy, I also write fantasy novels. I’ve been an active TTRPG player for the last few years, even creating and running a few campaigns. In addition, I wrote a one-shot campaign set in the world of my fantasy series, the Gifted Lands, which people can get for free when they sign up for my newsletter on my website. So it’s safe to say, I like fantasy. :) If you check out any of these books, let me know what you think of them! 

Rachanee's book list on awesome fantasy you may not have heard of

Rachanee Lumayno Why did Rachanee love this book?

I gotta say, Noel-Anne Brennan needs to be better known.

This book (along with its sequel, The Blood of the Land) makes up a compelling duology featuring Rilsin, the rightful ruler of her country, who pledges the throne to her cousin Sithli in an effort to stop the bloodshed in her land.

But her cousin is insane and could care less about being a good ruler, which means Rilsin may need to break her promise to help her country—except Sithli also holds Rilsin’s baby hostage.

Wonderful, strong characters, an engaging story, super easy to read. What more could you ask for? If you decide to read this, set aside a few uninterrupted hours. You can thank me later. :)

By Noel-Anne Brennan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After pledging her loyalty to her cousin Sithli, princess Rilsin Sea Becha, heir to the throne, realizes that she has made a grave mistake as she, unable to experience life and love, watches her cousin slowly destroy the kingdom, forcing Rilsin to risk everything she holds dear to save the Land. Original.

Book cover of The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1969-1977

Andrew Scott Cooper Author Of The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran

From my list on modern monarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrew Scott Cooper, Ph.D., is passionate about researching and writing narrative history books. He holds a doctorate in history, masters degrees in journalism and strategic studies, and his work has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, NPR and MSNBC. Earlier in his career, Andrew worked as a researcher on landmines at the UN and at Human Rights Watch on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Andrew's book list on modern monarchy

Andrew Scott Cooper Why did Andrew love this book?

Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to wear a crown, ride in a gold carriage and wave from a balcony? To make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people? The English language translation of The Shah and I has never been out of print and for good reason. More than thirty years ago the revelation that Asadollah Alam, the Shah of Iran’s closest adviser and confidante, kept secret diaries describing life at the Pahlavi Court, not to mention the most intimate details of his master’s life, shocked Iranians. Scandalous, humorous and entertaining, the Alam diaries also happen to comprise one of the most important diplomatic documents of the second half of the twentieth century. In these pages the previously untouchable, always suspicious King of Kings is revealed to be flesh and blood like the rest of us––quick to temper, bored with routine and always happy to…

By Asadollah Alam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Asadollah Alam, an urbane aristocrat from the oldest of Iran's great families, was the Sha's most trusted friend and confidant. As Prime Minister in 1962, Alam orchestrated the defeat of Ayatollah Khomeini's first serious challenge to the Pahlavi regime. Subsequently, he was made Minister of Court, a position of unique power and influence, which he retained until ill-health forced him to retire in 1977, the year before his death. Alam's diaries cover a nine-year period with remarkable frankness, recording his almost daily meetings and conversations with the Shah.

Book cover of The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction

Toni Mount Author Of How to Survive in Tudor England

From my list on survival in Tudor England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve studied and written about the Tudors for many years including a monthly article in Tudor Life magazine, plus I’ve written several successful books looking at the lives of ordinary people in history and now, my first full scale look at the Tudors. The Tudor period is one of the best known in our history and is dominated by so many well-known and fascinating characters but my interest rests with the ordinary folk and how their lives changed so fundamentally in this time. The dissolution of the monasteries changed everyday life for many and marked the end of the medieval period and the beginning of a more enlightened time. 

Toni's book list on survival in Tudor England

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

This is an indispensable summary of sixteenth-century English history, but it’s not as short as you might expect (the second edition actually includes greater content). The facts are well-researched, and the details are concise.

If you know nothing of the Tudors this is a good place to start, but being ‘very short’ it will leave you wanting to know more.

By John Guy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The monarchs of the Tudor period are among some of the most well-known figures in British history. John Guy presents a compelling and fascinating exploration of the Tudors in the new edition of this Very Short Introduction.

Looking at all aspects of the period, from beginning to end, he considers Tudor politics, religion, and economics, as well as issues relating to gender and minority rule, and the art, architecture, and social and material culture of the time. Introducing all of the key Tudor monarchs, Guy considers the impact the Tudor period had not only at the time, but also the…

Book cover of King Kelson's Bride: A Novel of the Deryni

P.G. Badzey Author Of Whitehorse Peak

From my list on fantasy with mystery, intrigue, and dash of faith.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tolkien and Lewis got their hooks into me when I was a teen and this led me to spend many hours playing RPGs, devouring fantasy novels by the armful. Unfortunately, many books were disdainful of faith (particularly of the medieval European variety) but the respectful ones inspired me. Years later, I decided to write my own novels and add a science-based perspective from 20+ years as an engineer. The result is a series of 5 epic fantasy novels. I have plans for more, branching out into sci-fi, romance, children’s books, and historical fiction. My recommendations showcase a few of the writers who inspired me and still provide a model for my work.

P.G.'s book list on fantasy with mystery, intrigue, and dash of faith

P.G. Badzey Why did P.G. love this book?

In this, the final novel of Kurtz’s epic series about the magic-wielding Deryni race, the half-blood King Kelson navigates dynastic marriage, alliances with far-flung kingdoms, assassination plots, and family betrayals. Kelson is a favorite character of mine: decent, brave, practical, and devout, and I felt great satisfaction when he finally met his soulmate in the spirited and courageous Princess Araxie. All doesn’t go smoothly for the pair, however, and they have to overcome many obstacles before they can be united. Kurtz is a master at atmospheric world-building, and I fell into her world as readily as I fell into Narnia and Middle Earth. I really liked how Kurtz expanded her scope to include regions similar to Byzantium, medieval Hungary, and the Islamic world. It was fascinating, thrilling, and uplifting; another of my all-time favorites.

By Katherine Kurtz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Kurtz’s strengths lie in her patient accumulation of telling detail, well-articulated plots, and believable magics. Should bring the fans flocking, and attract newcomers too.”—Kirkus Reviews

Speculation runs rampant throughout the kingdom of Gwynedd as to when, and to whom, King Kelson will finally be wed. As a rival monarch takes his rightful place on the throne of a nearby land, it becomes more imperative than ever that Kelson produce a long-awaited heir.

With the mystical Deryni blood flowing through his veins, Kelson can only hope for a woman whose power and conviction are equal to his own. Love is set…