The most recommended books on the Parthian Empire

Who picked these books? Meet our 2 experts.

2 authors created a book list connected to the Parthian Empire, and here are their favorite Parthian Empire books.
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Book cover of Cataphracts: Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

The armies of ancient Parthia were mostly composed of two troop types: horse archers and cataphracts. This title explores the development of the latter horsemen, which in fact predated Parthia but were particularly effective in Parthian service. So much so that they were adopted by the Romans in the second century AD as they sought to defend the borders of their threatened empire.

By Erich B. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cataphracts were the most heavily armoured form of cavalry in the ancient world, with riders and mounts both clad in heavy armour. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes, such as the Massegatae and Scythians, they were adopted and adapted by several major empires. The Achaemenid Persians, Seleucids, Sassanians and eventually the Romans and their Byzantine successors. Usually armed with long lances, they harnessed the mobility and mass of the horse to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain (not least due to the need for…


Book cover of Rome's Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

An excellent account of the military and political rivalry between Rome and Parthia, the two superpowers of the ancient world, spanning 300 years. Sheldon shows how the Roman defeat at Carrhae in 53BC resulted in a Roman obsession not only to reclaim the eagles lost in the battle, but also to avenge a humiliating military defeat, leading to 250 years of military campaigns and political intrigues.

By Rose Mary Sheldon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rome's Wars in Parthia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The leader of an empire invades Iraq. He has inadequate intelligence and underestimates the resistance of the locals, but he believes his overwhelming military strength will bring him a swift victory. His army overruns the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates, but as soon as he occupies the area a massive insurgency arises, made up of various ethnic and religious groups. What began as a simple conquest for dominance bogs down in deadly fighting as the once-victorious commander-in-chief now desperately searches for an exit strategy.... This scenario could be any number of Roman campaigns, not to mention America in…


Book cover of The Lost Wisdom of the Magi: the memoirs of Sophia Zealotes

Brendan Gerad O'Brien Author Of Dark September

From my list on gripping historical thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for historical thrillers comes from the excitement I felt as a lad when I immersed myself in the classics like Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Robinson Crusoe. Then a book on WW2 shocked me with the images of the brutality inflicted on the innocent caught up in the madness. On exercise with the Royal Navy in the Brecon Beacons, the gem of a story planted itself in my imagination. What if the Germans did invade Britain? What if the people chasing me over this bleak countryside were intent on killing me? What if I was desperately trying to get my family to safety? Dark September was born…

Brendan's book list on gripping historical thrillers

Brendan Gerad O'Brien Why did Brendan love this book?

This is a really well-told story and deserves praise for the detail and the observations throughout the book. Sophia, an elderly Babylonian Jew, is telling her account of her years in Palestine to the Sisters of Alexandria. As a little girl she studied the ancient languages because her father was a keeper of the royal archives of the Parthians. When she turned fifteen, her mother tried to commit her to an arranged marriage. Sophia runs away and joins a Nabataean caravan. Helme’s forensic research captures the atmosphere of Sophie’s travels brilliantly. The detail is amazing and her description of the everyday struggles brings the story vividly to life.

At 521 pages, it’s a long story, but like any journey, if it’s enjoyable and exciting, it ends all too soon.

By Susie Helme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This engaging, meticulously researched novel tells the story of Sophia, a first-century Babylonian Jew who learns ancient languages at the royal archives of the Parthians and secretly studies the magic on cuneiform tablets.
Sophia runs away from home, joining a Nabataean incense caravan, studies with the Essenes on the Dead Sea and joins with the militants of Qumran. As the Zealots battle to defend revolutionary Jerusalem against Titus, she falls in love with a Greek freedman, Athanasios, a comrade in arms. Jews and Christians briefly unite with Samaritans and the People of the Land. But messiahs can prove false.


Book cover of Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

A single-volume history of the ancient Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires written by an expert on ancient Persia. It is a very readable account of the great powers of the ancient world that inhabited the region that is now Iraq and Iran. It places the Parthians in the context of the story of Persia and from an eastern perspective.

By Kaveh Farrokh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The empires of ancient Persia remain as mysterious today as they were to contemporary Western scholars. Although Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia is legendary, the military successes of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian empires, along with their revolutionary military technology, tactics and culture have been almost forgotten in the sands of the East. In its day, Persia was a superpower to rival Greece and Rome, and conflict between them spanned over a millennium. Through these wars, and trade, these foes learnt from each other, not only adopting elements of military technology, but influences in the arts, architecture, religion, technology…


Book cover of The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Peter Darman Author Of Pacorus

From my list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Parthia began with a desire to write a novel about the Spartacus slave rebellion. I first became interested in the Thracian after seeing the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus as a boy, my interest growing over the years. Knowing there were quite a few fiction accounts of the slave leader, I wanted to find a new perspective. This led me to devise a story around a Parthian prince who is captured by the Romans and ends up fighting in the slave army. ‘The Parthian’ was born, as was my interest in the Parthian Empire, which would lead to the Parthian Chronicles series of novels and to date over 10 years of research into the Parthian Empire. I do not pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I hope my novels have shed light on an empire that lasted nearly 500 years but is almost unknown in the West. I also hope they spur readers on to explore the history of Parthia for themselves and to discover more about a fascinating people.

Peter's book list on the Parthian Empire from a history lover

Peter Darman Why did Peter love this book?

Compared to the Roman Empire, there are few titles on Rome’s greatest rival in the ancient world. This volume, the result of 30 years of research, goes some way to redress the balance. Scholarly yet very readable, superbly illustrated and exhaustively researched, this should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the Parthian Empire.

By Uwe Ellerbrock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Parthian Empire, which existed for almost 500 years from 247 BC to 224 AD.

The Parthians were Rome's great opponents in the east, but comparatively little is known about them. The Parthians focuses on the rise, expansion, flowering and decline of the Parthian Empire and covers both the wars with the Romans in the west and the nomads in the east. Sources include the small amount from the Empire itself, as well as those from outside the Parthian world, such as Greek, Roman and Chinese documents. Ellerbrock…