The most recommended books about relics

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to relics, and here are their favorite relic books.
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What type of relic book?


Monodies and on the Relics of Saints

By Guibert Of Nogent, Joseph McAlhany (translator),

Book cover of Monodies and on the Relics of Saints: The Autobiography and a Manifesto of a French Monk from Thetime of the Crusades

R.I. Moore Author Of The War on Heresy

From the list on the real Middle Ages.

Who am I?

I am a historian primarily of western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. My leading interest has shifted over many years from the people who were persecuted as heretics at that time to their persecutors, as it dawned on me that whereas scepticism about the teachings of the Roman (or any) church was easily understandable, the persecution of mostly rather humble people who presented no real threat to that Church or to wider society was not, and needed to be explained.

R.I.'s book list on the real Middle Ages

Why did R.I. love this book?

The same transformation is vividly described, along with the enormities of archetypically immoral barons and revolting peasants, the murder of a scandalous bishop, and much else, in the memoirs of an abbot from northern France at a time of violent social upheaval and intense personal rivalries, often played out on the stage of religious piety. This is one of the liveliest and most revealing of the many sources translated from this period, excellently introduced by Jay Rubenstein.   

By Guibert Of Nogent, Joseph McAlhany (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monodies and on the Relics of Saints as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first Western autobiography since Augustine's "Confessions", "The Monodies" is set against the backdrop of the First Crusade and offers stunning insights into medieval society. As Guibert of Nogent intimately recounts his early years, monastic life, and the bloody uprising at Laon in 1112, we witness a world - and a mind - populated by royals, heretics, nuns, witches, and devils, and come to understand just how fervently he was preoccupied with sin, sexuality, the afterlife, and the dark arts. Exotic, disquieting, and illuminating, "The Monodies" is a work in which the dreams, fears, and superstitions of one man illuminate…

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

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

Eagle of the Empire

By Martin Ferguson,

Book cover of Eagle of the Empire

Chris Turnbull Author Of The Planting of the Penny Hedge

From the list on fiction with an historical twist.

Who am I?

I am a Yorkshire writer with a passion for historical fiction. My love of history came as a surprise to me in my late teens, as I had originally thought history was not my thing. However, I soon discovered the incredible stories throughout history, and how many authors carve fictional stories around these time periods or historical events. I love researching for my own historical writing, whether it be to find out what kind of jobs people did, or what they ate for breakfast. I love reading and writing historical fiction in multiple eras, such as WW2, Victorian times, and further back to the Romans and ancient Egyptians. 

Chris' book list on fiction with an historical twist

Why did Chris love this book?

Martin Ferguson has quickly become one of my favourite authors, thanks to his Relic Hunters series. What I love about these books is that they are split between two stories, the modern-day story based on the Relic Hunters who work at the British Museum, and the secondary story set in the past relating to the relic they are hunting in the modern chapters. In some ways I would say the historical chapters are my favourite, and the author clearly does a lot of research for these books. These books make me eager to go away and read the rest of the history surrounding the relic, history, and myths. I am always recommending these books to friends. 

By Martin Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

RELIC HUNTERS: EAGLE OF THE EMPIREWhen his brother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Adam Hunter discovers that the myths and legends he was told as a boy have more truth to them than he ever thought possible.To free his brother, Adam must uncover the truth about the lost Roman Ninth Legion and find its fabled Eagle Standard, an artefact of mysterious mythical power. Adam calls on the help of the British Museum, a team of quirky Relic Hunters, skilled in recovering and protecting relics around the world. However, they need to act fast for they are not the only ones searching for…

The Whale Road

By Robert Low,

Book cover of The Whale Road

Peter Gibbons Author Of Warrior and Protector

From the list on historical fiction or fantasy about the Viking Age.

Who am I?

I developed a passion for history as a child in Warrington, Cheshire. I would lose myself in tales of Achilles, Alexander, King Arthur, and King Alfred the Great. My love of the Viking Age became nurtured through visits to Viking exhibitions like the Yorvik centre in York, and Dublinia in Dublin. The catalyst for my first book, Viking Blood and Blade, was a trip to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. That museum holds a full-size Viking warship, which is truly breathtaking. I have published seven historical fiction novels set in the Viking Age, and I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have…

Peter's book list on historical fiction or fantasy about the Viking Age

Why did Peter love this book?

The descriptions of Vikings in this book are unique to others in the Viking Historical Fiction genre.

Robert captures the Viking Age with realistic grit and blood-spattered realism, and this is a difficult book to put down. Orm Bearslayer and his crew are classic anti-heroes, and Finn Horsehead is a magnificent character.

The Whale Road is the first in the Oathsworn series, and I would advise any fan of Viking novels to give this one a try.

By Robert Low,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in a brand new series charting the adventures of the Oathsworn, a band of Vikings on the chase for the secret hoard of Attila the Hun.

Life is savage aboard a Viking raider. When young Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to join his estranged father on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of a notorious crew. They are the Oathsworn - so named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood - and they ply a casual trade on the ocean wave, selling their swords to the highest bidder.

But times…

Lost London

By Philip Davies,

Book cover of Lost London: 1870-1945

Fiona Rule Author Of The Worst Street in London

From the list on Victorian London.

Who am I?

Fiona Rule is a writer, researcher, and historian specialising in the history of London. ​ She is the author of five books: The Worst Street In London, London's Docklands, London's Labyrinth, Streets Of Sin, and The Oldest House In London. ​ A regular contributor to television and radio programmes, Fiona also has her own company, House Histories, which specialises in researching the history of people's homes. She holds an Advanced Diploma in Local History from the University of Oxford.

Fiona's book list on Victorian London

Why did Fiona love this book?

This fascinating doorstopper of a book contains more than 500 photographs of buildings that have long since disappeared from London’s streets. It provides a tantalising glimpse of the city that our ancestors knew and carries me off on a time travelling adventure every time I look through it.

By Philip Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spectacular presentation of photographs of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings captured just before their destruction - most seen here for the first time.
"This endlessly absorbing book that is at once a record of destruction, a haunting collection of relics, and a door into the past." - John Carey, The Sunday Times.

"Each picture contains a novel in this deeply moving, unforgettable book." - Duncan Fallowell, Daily Express. "A magical book about the capital's past." - Sunday Times.

Don't Ask

By Donald E. Westlake,

Book cover of Don't Ask

Mark Arsenault Author Of The Imposter's War: The Press, Propaganda, and the Newsman Who Battled for the Minds of America

From the list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers.

Who am I?

One of the great job benefits of being a newspaper reporter is the wide array of interesting people I get to meet. Not only get to meet but in fact, get paid to meet and to tell their stories. Some of them are famous, and that’s fine. Much more interesting, I think, are the ordinary folk nobody knows who are doing something extraordinary. And then there is a third category that I find most interesting of all: The people who have something to hide. They are mysteries who don’t want to be cracked, and I find them irresistible.

Mark's book list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers

Why did Mark love this book?

Westlake’s unlucky, sad-sack adventure hero John Dortmunder is the greatest conman character in crime fiction. Years ago, at a bookstore coffee shop, I perused some book reviews for what to read next. One reviewer recommended Westlake’s comic caper series. I walked to the mystery section, pulled out Don’t Ask, opened to a random page, read it, and laughed out loud. That was not just good luck: There’s a hilarious passage on nearly every page of the book. It’s about two fictitious nations fighting over a religious artifact, but that does not begin to sum up the zany genius of Westlake’s plot. Donald Westlake was a sort of imposter himself -- he wrote under more than a dozen pen names throughout a spectacular career that spanned half a century.

By Donald E. Westlake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Ask as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his latest comic crime caper, Dortmunder is hired to steal a bone, but not any old bone . . .

Dortmunder has a job offer. He's been hired by third parties to pull off heists in the past, but never to lay his hands on anything this peculiar. It is the 800 year old femur of a 16-year-old girl who who, having been killed and eaten by her own family, was made a saint by the Church. Now two European countries and the Catholic church are fighting like dogs over it. This bone, the femur of St Ferghana, is…

Of Wind and Lightning

By Ella Walker Henderson,

Book cover of Of Wind and Lightning

N. MacCameron Author Of Leoshine, Princess Oracle

From the list on combining science fiction with fantasy.

Who am I?

I love knowing about things. Science is both a knowledge base and a way to discover new knowledge. I’ve been looking through microscopes and telescopes (that my dad built) from my earliest toddling. Though I have never been to university I have picked the brains of my scientific siblings (one of whom is a biology professor) and I read widely. Gathering crumbs from many sources gives a wider knowledge base than one university child afford. Scientists begin with speculation. I love inventing systems and worlds where we break one or a few of our known laws of nature or physics. Marrying science with fantasy births marvelous offspring!

N.'s book list on combining science fiction with fantasy

Why did N. love this book?

Gripping character introductions, organic magic systems, extraordinary world-building, and superb writing. I felt the fire burn Selah and the yearning in William’s heart to do good despite loyalty to faulty leadership. Fighting galore!

I love weaving on a loom. I almost always write a weaver into my novels and Walker-Henderson’s series has a weaver too!

The Legendaries’ abilities - speed, strength, magnetic attraction, lung capacity, and resistance to fire are measurable and augmented in this story. Through the whole series geography is explored. Each Legendary comes from a different environment and climate. Selah comes from the desert. William comes from the mountains with mixed forest. They travel to the plains and the icy regions in their quest for the ancient relic that gives the possessor power over their destiny.

By Ella Walker Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a land of legends, three rival nations hunt the ancient relic that can control rare and powerful warriors.

With lightning speed and an affinity for knives, Desa is a legendary, one of the warriors the relic can enslave.

Disguised as a mercenary, she joins a band of enemy warriors who also hunt the relic. In the height of battle, a startling connection links her to their leader.

Will he help her find the relic or betray her for the glory of his northern kingdom? His aid could be worth the risk.

For if her oldest adversary succeeds in the…

The Fragment

By Davis Bunn,

Book cover of The Fragment

Carlo Kennedy Author Of Time Signature

From the list on fiction with a Christian worldview.

Who am I?

As an Irish-Italian-American, I’ve got a lifetime of cultural and family traditions to bring to the table, and I want that in the books I read. I love books that celebrate the beauty of life, love, family, and creation. A novel can open up the world, and uplift the reader, adding joy to life – that’s what I’m looking for when I read, and I imagine others, too, want uplifting stories. That doesn’t mean preachy or sanctimonious – stories should be about real imperfect people who sometimes fall short of the ideal – but I definitely want stories that take place in a universe where God, and right and wrong, exist. 

Carlo's book list on fiction with a Christian worldview

Why did Carlo love this book?

This book is a masterful mix of mystery and the miraculous!

Set in Paris, in the early twentieth century, the author will take you on a wild ride, something like a cross between Indiana Jones and National Treasure – and it’s not a long book, so it’s a great way to introduce yourself to this prolific author.

If you’ve never heard of Davis Bunn, he’s more famous than you would guess, and a best-selling author. Do yourself a favor, and introduce yourself to his work.

By Davis Bunn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Paris, 1923: a young American photographer, Muriel Ross, finds herself documenting antiques that US Senator Tom Bryan has travelled to France to acquire. At first revelling in the freedom Paris affords, events take a dangerous turn when Muriel intuits that Senator Bryan is on a mission far more momentous, and potentially deadly, than a mere shopping trip.

Asked to photograph an astonishing artefact - a piece of the True Cross on which, legend has it, Christ was crucified - Muriel is deeply moved. When rumours surface that a second fragment has been unearthed in Constantinople, she becomes enmeshed in a…

Lost Cornwall

By Joanna Thomas,

Book cover of Lost Cornwall

Sue Appleby Author Of The Hammers of Towan: A Nineteenth-Century Cornish Family

From the list on Cornish history.

Who am I?

Part-Cornish, as a child I spent family holidays in Cornwall and was told family stories of Cornish relatives, especially of great grandfather Philip Henry Hammer and his numerous children who left Cornwall for destinations near – London and Wales – and far–South Africa, Australia, and Tasmania – to make a living. Old family photographs, some from the 1870s helped to bring these men and women alive and inspired me to write The Hammers of Towan. The more I research Cornish history, the more I learn, and the more I want to write about Cornish people and their place in the world. 

Sue's book list on Cornish history

Why did Sue love this book?

A fascinating description of the Cornish way of life as it was in the late 19th and earlier part of the 20th century.

I especially enjoyed the many early photographs of places, activities, and people which really enliven the text – good background information for my writing project.

By Joanna Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cornwall's spectacular shoreline, with its brutal cliffs, desolate moors and pre-historic coastal settlements, has long held a source of fascination for those who cross the Duchy's boundary line. Yet despite the endurance of seascapes and ancient landscapes, which remain hidden from mainstream tourist routes, there are, throughout Cornwall, stories of change. Patterns of life have adapted to a shifting world, and whole communities have been affected as traditions are gradually subsumed in the struggle for 'progress'. However, remnants of recent history are still evident in Cornwall's architecture, its redundant transport systems and its cultural relics. This book is an exploration…

Eyes of the Blind

By D.A. Godwin,

Book cover of Eyes of the Blind

Shelby King Author Of Forest of Realms

From the list on that transport you to another realm.

Who am I?

My love of realms and fantastic imagination comes from growing up in the backwoods of Alabama. The woods inspired me and beckoned me to dance and build and imagine among the trees. I created characters and worlds and could be a witch, a fairy, a troll, or a girl lost in time. I owe my love of creating characters to the woods that built me and one day I will go back and thank them for the beautiful life they gave me.

Shelby's book list on that transport you to another realm

Why did Shelby love this book?

Most fantasy books take so long to tell the story. This series starts quickly and enchants the entire time! A hero who defends a blind priest against all manner of evil and danger. This is a story you will fall in love with and will not be able to put down! Without revealing too much... Not all heroes wear capes 

By D.A. Godwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A blind priest. A book that can't be seen. Can a young hero protect one long enough to save the other?

Tormjere has never left his home valley, peaceful in its isolation from both monsters and men. His first journey into the outside world meets with disaster, thrusting him into the realities of a kingdom on the brink of war.

To save the life of a friend, he pledges himself to a path for which he is ill-prepared: guiding a blind priest on a quest to retrieve a sacred relic that only he can find.

As their pursuit leads them…

The Arthurian Relic

By Andrew Clawson,

Book cover of The Arthurian Relic

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From the list on weaving adventure and history.

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

Why did E. Chris love this book?

Clawson's protagonist, Harry Fox, is a criminal, working for criminals—which makes him a bit unusual in a field dominated by historians and law enforcement. And yet…Harry is highly sympathetic.

I love how Clawson uses Harry's interactions with secondary characters and random strangers to develop that side of his character. This book delivers on medieval clues and ciphers without ever losing that focus on character.

As a history geek myself, I get excited when I recognize the characters from my research, emerging from a thriller plot, in this case, the historian Geoffrey of Monmouth. (Don't worry if you haven't heard of him, he's a little obscure, but that only makes it more fun to see his work incorporated into fiction!)

By Andrew Clawson,

Why should I read it?

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

Map of Bones

By James Rollins,

Book cover of Map of Bones

M. S. Spencer Author Of Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

From the list on treasure hunts.

Who am I?

For much too long a perennial student, I hold degrees in Anthropology, Arabic Studies, and Library Science. I’ve studied nine languages and lived or traveled on five of the seven continents. I do not hunt tangible treasure—gold or jewels or sunken ships; I hunt knowledge. My love for rooting out treasure troves of information began with my first job. I held passes to the Library of Congress stacks, where I tracked down sources on Ethiopian history. After months of unearthing mostly obscure references, I came upon the mother lode—the great explorers’ accounts. It was like finding a chest of doubloons. I was hooked on the treasure of the mind.

M.S.'s book list on treasure hunts

Why did M.S. love this book?

Not all treasure is gold—in Map of Bones, one of Rollins’ many excellent novels, it is bones. Ancient bones. In the aftermath of a horrific crime, the bones of the Three Magi are stolen from a German cathedral. A Vatican investigator and an American covert operative chase the thieves—an ancient cult of assassins—across two continents to recover the relics. Map of Bones is especially appealing to me, being a sucker for historic or exotic settings with which I’m familiar. Rollins’ books are all page-turners, fast-paced and compelling, and the Sigma Force series is perfect for those of us who love heroes who can extricate themselves from any predicament. I like my hero complex, yes. Sexy, yes. But above all, really, really good at what he does. 

By James Rollins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When a group of parishioners is burned to death in a German cathedral, the US sends in Sigma force. For this tragedy is more than a case of arson - someone has stolen the priceless treasure stored in the cathedral's golden reliquary: the bones of the biblical Three Kings. Commander Gray Pierce leads a team on the hunt for the Royal Dragon Court, a clandestine aristocratic fraternity of alchemists that dates back to the Middle Ages and seeks to establish a new world order using the mystical bones. Pierce and his team follow a trail that leads from Europe's Gothic…

Book cover of We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies

Chris Benjamin Author Of Chasing Paradise: A Hitchhiker's Search for Home in a World at War with Itself

From Chris' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Author Anti-colonialist Environmentalist Father Traveller

Chris' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Chris love this book?

I was blown away by this debut novel and the skill of its writer. It covered multiple perspectives, times, and locations, giving layered and deep insights into the Chinese invasion and annexation of Tibet, and its effects on Tibetans forced to become refugees, first in Nepal then in Canada.

A small clay statue, or ku, plays a central role endowed with profound meaning about cultural belonging, ownership, and appropriation. Through the varied interpretations of its form and facial expressions, it is both a character itself and a symbol of what other characters experience.
I found this to be a beautifully written, well-constructed, powerful, and moving tale of displacement, emphasizing the essential nature of homeland, how place shapes and defines us all, with much resonance in American Indigeneity.

By Tsering Yangzom Lama,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For readers of Homegoing and The Leavers, a compelling and profound debut novel about a Tibetan family's journey through exile.

International Bestseller
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet throughout the 1950s, Lhamo and her younger sister, Tenkyi, arrive at a refugee camp in Nepal. They survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas, but their parents did not. As Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and her mother, a village oracle-tries to rebuild a life amid a shattered community, hope arrives in the…

The Jester

By James Patterson,

Book cover of The Jester

Thomas J. Berry Author Of Iron and Bronze

From the 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

Why did Thomas love this book?

James Patterson is one of my favorite authors and his historical novel The Jester is a masterpiece, blending an intriguing story of treachery, deceit, and love against the backdrop of Medieval Britain. Patterson brings the characters into living color, especially the poor peasants who toil within the cold, stone walls. While the plot is fantastic in its own right, the author does something unique that sets him apart – his chapters are always short and easy to read. Cliffhangers dangle at the end of most of the pages, keeping the reader on the edge of his seat. The combination makes this book hard to put down and you’ll be finished in no time. It's clear he understands what the reader wants, and he delivers!

By James Patterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freedom - in eleventh-century France, it is a luxury enjoyed by only the King and nobility. For the serf, it is surely worth fighting for. But is it worth dying for?

Arriving home disillusioned from the Crusades, Hugh DeLuc discovers that his village has been ransacked and his wife abducted. The dark riders came in the dead of night, like devils, wearing no colours but black crosses on their chests, leaving no clue as to who they are. Knights they may be, but honour and chivalry are not part of their code. They search for a relic, one worth more…