The best books about relics

1 authors have picked their favorite books about relics and why they recommend each book.

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Map of Bones

By James Rollins,

Book cover of Map of Bones: A Sigma Force Novel

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. 


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.


I wrote...

Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

By M. S. Spencer,

Book cover of Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

What is my book about?

Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city. Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.

War in Heaven

By Charles Williams,

Book cover of War in Heaven

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.”


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. 


I wrote...

The Enchanted Grove

By Stephen Hayes,

Book cover of The Enchanted Grove

What is my book about?

Jeffery, Janet, and Catherine spend their summer school holidays swimming and riding horses in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa. But then they have to deal with bullying teenagers who are into witchcraft (one of whom has a magical hyena skull), poachers, a witch who lures them into a deadly enchanted grove, and the strange guardian of a cave of Bushman paintings. And just when it seems that things couldn’t possibly get worse, the children stumble across a secret government project that the police think they know far too much about.  

Eyes of the Blind

By D.A. Godwin,

Book cover of Eyes of the Blind

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 


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.


I wrote...

The Quest: Forest of Realms

By Shelby King, Crunchy Tubie Mama,

Book cover of The Quest: Forest of Realms

What is my book about?

Zia's people have been enslaved. The princess watched helplessly when giant creatures emerged from outside the city to control her kingdom. But when she finds a map that could guide her through the Forest of Realms, she dashes into the woods in search of answers…

As she treads deeper into the darkness, she must decide who to trust in a magical, unfamiliar world. Unable to tell friend from foe, the royal girl must collect the pieces of a powerful artifact to have any chance of survival. Will Zia reveal the truth of the past and free her people before something sinister stops her quest for good?

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

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.   


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.


I wrote...

The War on Heresy

By R.I. Moore,

Book cover of The War on Heresy

What is my book about?

I wrote this book to understand why west Europeans acquired the habit of putting one another to death by burning in large numbers, which they continued to do until the eighteenth century. Such events were always surrounded by speculation and rumour-mongering, at the time and often for centuries afterward. It was necessary, therefore, to examine the sources with great care and strip away the accumulated crust of handed-down sensationalism and uncritically accepted conspiracy theories.

Much of this embedded error was a legacy of the sentimental medievalism of the nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, which evoked a never-never land of wandering knights, love-lorn ladies, and pious peasants, and in doing so reaffirmed that those centuries were not to be blamed for the grimy realities of the modern world.

Eagle of the Empire

By Martin Ferguson,

Book cover of Eagle of the Empire

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. 


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. 


I wrote...

The Planting of the Penny Hedge

By Chris Turnbull,

Book cover of The Planting of the Penny Hedge

What is my book about?

Whitby, 1891. When an unknown man is discovered dead on Whitby beach, it is assumed that he has drowned. However, when the police arrive at the scene it soon becomes clear that there is more to this case than a simple drowning victim. The chief calls in newly appointed Detective Benjamin Matthews to look into the case.

Matthews, originally from Whitby, has been living these past two years in York as a PC, and is less than happy with his transfer back to the harbour town. With a relocation, a family conflict, and now a new case to solve Matthews is well and truly thrown in at the deep end; and the more he delves into the young man's complex life, the darker things get.

Pet Sematary

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Pet Sematary

This is Stephen King’s zombie story, and I think it is the best of all his novels that I have read. I like the gradual build-up of menace in the story. Like the other books mentioned, there is supernatural evil, but unlike them, there are no occult conspiracies, the evil flows from human choices. It tells something about the nature of temptation, and one wants to warn the characters “Don’t do it. No good can come of this.” But they do it anyway, and no good comes of it. 


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. 


I wrote...

The Enchanted Grove

By Stephen Hayes,

Book cover of The Enchanted Grove

What is my book about?

Jeffery, Janet, and Catherine spend their summer school holidays swimming and riding horses in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa. But then they have to deal with bullying teenagers who are into witchcraft (one of whom has a magical hyena skull), poachers, a witch who lures them into a deadly enchanted grove, and the strange guardian of a cave of Bushman paintings. And just when it seems that things couldn’t possibly get worse, the children stumble across a secret government project that the police think they know far too much about.  

Midwinter of the Spirit

By Phil Rickman,

Book cover of Midwinter of the Spirit

The Revd Merrily Watkins is the Vicar of Ledwardine in Herefordshire, England. When the diocesan exorcist retires, she is nominated to replace him. I studied theology at a college in Durham that trained clergy for the Church of England, and I liked Phil Rickman’s gently satirical touch. In the book, the church prefers the more twee title of “deliverance consultant” in place of the more blunt “exorcist.” I don’t know if any Church of England diocese has done such a thing, but it’s the kind of thing one could easily imagine that they might do. But whether she is an exorcist or a deliverance consultant, Merrily Watkins is soon faced with problems such as the missing relics of a saint and some occult conspiracies. I also think it comes close to being a successor to the novels of Charles Williams as a “supernatural thriller.”


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. 


I wrote...

The Enchanted Grove

By Stephen Hayes,

Book cover of The Enchanted Grove

What is my book about?

Jeffery, Janet, and Catherine spend their summer school holidays swimming and riding horses in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa. But then they have to deal with bullying teenagers who are into witchcraft (one of whom has a magical hyena skull), poachers, a witch who lures them into a deadly enchanted grove, and the strange guardian of a cave of Bushman paintings. And just when it seems that things couldn’t possibly get worse, the children stumble across a secret government project that the police think they know far too much about.  

The Jester

By James Patterson,

Book cover of The Jester

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!


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.  


I wrote...

Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze

By Thomas J. Berry,

Book cover of Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze

What is my book about?

Five men and women in Ancient Greece are set on a dangerous journey of self-discovery during the bitter conflict of the Peloponnesian War.

The Olympic festivals honor the gods with their renowned athletic contests and one woman finds herself in a deadly gamble when she must make an agonizing choice. A young helot slave longs for freedom while a new wife imperils herself to stand by her husband and home. When a wealthy aristocrat finds his world turned upside down, he must learn what true sacrifice is all about. A Spartan officer who has lived by a strict code of tradition must discover new ways to cope in an unconventional war.  Who will survive and what will their lives be like when it's over?

Lost London

By Philip Davies,

Book cover of Lost London: 1870-1945

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.


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.


I wrote...

The Worst Street in London

By Fiona Rule,

Book cover of The Worst Street in London

What is my book about?

Amid the bustling streets of Spitalfields, East London, lies an anonymous office block. The average pedestrian wouldn't even notice it, but beneath its foundations lies all that remains of Dorset Street – The worst street in London: once the resort of thieves, conmen, pimps, prostitutes, and murderers, most notably Jack the Ripper.

This book chronicles the rise and fall of this remarkable street, from its promising beginnings, through its gradual descent into iniquity, vice, and violence, to its final demise at the hands of the demolition men. This remarkable story gives a fascinating insight into an area of London that has always been a cultural melting pot and the place where many thousands of migrants became Londoners. It also tells the story of a part of the capital that, until quite recently, was largely left to fend for itself, with truly horrifying results.

Don't Ask

By Donald Westlake,

Book cover of Don't Ask

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.


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.


I wrote...

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

By Mark Arsenault,

Book cover of The Imposter's War: The Press, Propaganda, and the Newsman Who Battled for the Minds of America

What is my book about?

In the years before the United States joined WWI, a fearless New England newsman called John Revelstoke Rathom became a media celebrity for his sensational scoops about German espionage and propaganda in the U.S. His articles were designed to condition America to see the German Empire as an enemy worth fighting at war. What the public did not know was that the famous editor was not who he said he was. Rathom was a confidant of President Woodrow Wilson, he was trusted by millions of readers, and yet there is no evidence he ever spoke his real name on this continent. His darkly funny tale exposes murky details of the propaganda wars waged by foreign nations to influence American public opinion, which echoes today.

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