THE DARK AGES, AUTHORS WHO DID THEIR RESEARCH --- WHOM YOU WANT TO READ. A BIBLIOGRAPHY
and Especially NOTES on A CONTEMPORARY "DARK AGES" BEST SELLER BY KEN FOLLETT, PILLARS OF THE EARTH, A DISCUSSION OF its MARKETING STRATEGIES, (UNIQUE!) (in PART I.) and THE PLOT AND SHAPE OF NOVEL, and what it teaches the WRITER (in part II.)
ENTER A DOORWAY TO THE DARK AGES! Do you know about the recent amazing LUCK of KEN FOLLETT, author of EYE OF THE NEEDLE, WALK WITH LIONS, and about 14 other novels, mostly mysteries, spy thrillers? He has a pair of new hits which are MICHENER-novel-SIMILARS ---historical novels but set where MICHENER NEVER WENT...in the DARK AGES! In ENGLAND. WHAT IS UNIQUE is that the first novel, the 1000 page prequel was published in 1989. Yet OPRAH just did a few shows in a row where she extolled and raved about KEN FOLLETT's PILLARS OF THE EARTH and it's 18 years old. It's still a tremendous work! What's 18 years compared to the 900 years ago of the book's setting? Yes it is set in the 1100's in England.
PART I. MARKETING STRATEGIES. The hullabaloo was on TV last week. THESE WERE BRAND NEW OPRAH SHOWS -- one the Christmas show where she gave audiences a copy of an OLD book, the PREQUEL! I had just ordered it used for a buck ( a page that teaches you how to do this trick,) & I knew it was published in 1989 and already had a sequel "WORLD WITHOUT END" that had come out months ago. So I wondered why the campaign to get the first book sold, AGAIN. It was already translated into 51 languages. There seems to be a marketing mystery here, but I know that the publishers saw how excellent his NEW SEQUEL was and HAD to remind folks about the terrific PREQUEL, to get the sales numbers up on the SEQUEL! This strategy worked 1000%. Cuz OPRAH GOT INVOLVED!
Read what I found online at some lady's blog. "Yesterday was a red letter day for me . . . I discovered that Ken Follett has written a sequel to one of my favorite-books-of-all-time, Pillars of the Earth. The book, entitled World Without End, is only in hardback at this point,having come out a week ago...it is 1014 pages long. I bought it at Barnes & Noble (20% off of 35$ price), it's 20$ at Amazon, but WORLD WITHOUT END may be at Costco one day soon. I have no doubt it will be a best seller.
What I'm afraid of is that once I start reading it, I may become a book recluse. My family will be forgotten, my other responsibilities. So I'm just going to stare at it for a few days.
As an aside, last night I listened to a Tivo'd program which contained an interview with Ken Follett. For those of you who read my blog and live in the United States, there is a CBS TV program which airs very early on Sundays, aptly named Sunday Morning. It usually starts at 6 or 6:30 am, but the time varies. (That's why I love Tivo so much . . . I just instruct Tivo to record the program and it knows when it airs.) Mostly, Sunday Morning is about "good news." There's a short quip at the beginning about current news, but it's no more than a minute long. The remainder is a series of short to long segments about esoteric things like inventions, travel here in the U.S., music legends, a good movie, art and artists, photographers, writers (like Follett) and even poets. On every show they end with a one minute segment of nature somewhere in our U.S. of A. Beautiful panoramic views of parks, forests, mountains, streams, rivers, birds. Sound from the location is included, so you hear the katydids, crickets, birds, whatever. I always look forward to that last segment.
Anyway, Ken Follett was interviewed from his London home and office. He talked about how his publisher, Dutton, was very, VERY skeptical about the manuscript for Pillars of the Earth. It was such a divergence for Follett, who had written nothing but [very popular] espionage novels since his first scribblings as a teen. "Pillars" is mostly a book from the Middle Ages, about a church. Everything you might ever have wanted to know about the concept and building of a church. Follett writes a book similar to Michener, as far as the depth and creativity with the people(s) who inhabit the history. Pillars was wildly popular - has been translated into 51 languages, I
believe he said. Some incredible number of the books have been printed. And, he talked about the folly of trying to write a sequel, and his fear that people will say "oh, it's okay, but not as good as the first one." He wants us to like this one even better. We'll see . . . Interestingly, Follett's wife is a politician in England, a member of
Parliament. She was briefly interviewed too. She rolled in with Tony Blair's Labour Party, and is still in office with the new P.M. Ken got into a squabble with Tony Blair about Blair's proclivity to gossip mongering."
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So, Dutton is actually fueling a CAMPAIGN to hustle an 18 year old EDITION, pub in l989, to get an audience for it and then push a 35$ sequel book that just came out! INSIDIOUS marketing but extremely sharp strategy! One that is working! If you have a novel to sell, go to DUTTON cuz they're the new deep pockets publisher!
Now, let's discuss the amazingly intricate PLOT
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II. FOLLETT's PLOTTING STRATEGIES. The author must have mapped the plot of this massive novel because he's not wandering or wondering. He goes in a fast, straight line like a FREIGHT TRAIN, barreling through ENGLAND in 12th century ---collecting characters but always with a RIVETING event around them, in a fast moving story. There's never any wasting time telling us back story. He only shows us CURRENT TIME actions, events, STORY, CHARACTERS as they appear. There's little narrative, little explanation of why this new character will be integral to the plot or where he/she's been with one exception. (Second time we meet ELLEN, she tells TOM the hero her odyssey. Later he marries her.)
Reader, however must not lose track of one single person who appears. They reappear and are important later. So you have to focus. The villain HAMLEIGH shows up with no backstory, just evil deeds in the first frame! Follett's freight train is all lean meat and muscle, no fat, no gravy. This makes the story MOVE and if the reader focuses and hangs on for his life, he'll see how the PUZZLE PIECES CONNECT.
Follett's skill is CHINESE BOX assembly to the PLOTTING. Then, it's not only a freight train of a thru line but BIG BUMPS along the way, ROLLER COASTER STYLE, where you go EEEEK! His villain reappears with a new attack of evil every few chapters.
Follett is not DICKENSIAN in letting you get an emotionally deep attachment to the characters he introduces. That may be his lack as a hormone secreting human but what a plot structure he came up with! The puzzle pieces abut one another tightly like the very joints of the cathedrals which TOM THE BUILDER creates in the book. The plot is like a CHINESE BOX. But ...as the reader does NOT KNOW why he should focus carefully on every new character, he can easily lose sight of the plot structure as the linkages are enshrouded in mystery. The reader CANNOT see that ITEM A will later connect to ITEM F as you can't see B, C, D or E. YET.
But when you finally discover the connections, you'll respect the author's immaculate plotting which he certainly did beforehand. This book, once read, shows that FOLLETT worked out a MAP of events before he started. The disparate characters were to be tied together in the end.
Follett himself describes his own problem when he points to bad mortar in the CATHEDRAL that ALFRED built which falls in. HIS OWN STORY has bad mortar, bad peanut butter. No fat is used to butter up his characters to get some flesh on them and become GOOD SOAP OPERA. They tend to be cardboard. Follett has TOM THE BUILDER say "it is the mortar that makes the stones strong. Without a perfect mortar the stones no matter how perfectly shaped, will not stay straight or live in time."
FOLLETT lacks the Dickensian schmaltz factor, (an ancient Yiddish word for chicken fat, but always meaning sympathy, emotional juice.) Where's the schmaltz? Where's the fatty mortar that butters up the 'caring factor' so that the plot isn't just a lot of characters moving like freight cars on a runaway train. BUTTER makes the reader love and empathize with each character and it's missing. TOM is no David Copperfield or Oliver Twist cuz there's no lifelike soulular juice. Still, Follett's carefully constructed plot barrels thru England with a dozen main characters hanging on for life.
What Follett's SUPERB at is researching, and showing the horrific dangers of that period. With impeccable timing, the extended family has a period of growth, then a disaster coming from the DARK AGES social problems and that repeats a dozen times. ONE is the VILLAIN WILLIAM HAMLEIGH who turns into a very fleshed out evil sonovabitch. Follett really knows how to let us into HIS SOUL BUTTER. EVIL he has down!
Allowing reader into the skull of a GREAT and lethal VILLAIN keeps the reader gripping the moving freight train. Every new danger is so horrific that you wonder how one could even write a novel about modern days as there's so very little horrific going on. No Lord William Hamleighs around with this kind of sadism!
So the horrific element gets us adhered to the story although the reader is frequently kept in the dark on story points. THE CONNECTION between these events and characters at times is a total mystery!
Well, that's because this probably really IS a mystery novel. As in all mystery novels, the first chapter has a terrible meaningless death, one the reader wants found out, vindicated, punished.
In the very first scene, an innocent man is HUNG. He's an odd fellow, redheaded, white skinned, only speaking French. A foreigner. And poor. At the hanging execution, he sings French ballads about a trapped lark who will die caged. His spitfire widow, ELLEN, a pregnant, forest hippie runs around the execution, curses the entire village in foul English. She's a local girl and she knows the curses and screams and one ugly magic trick to scare the village. Then she runs for her life to live again in the forest. Follett doesn't explain how the French man got there. Unless you noticed that on the title page was a brief quote about a ship that sank off France, on its way to England, with the entire royal family...leaving King Henry back in HIS CASTLE with no heirs at all. One person survived, the redhead JUGGLER, the comic singer to the royal family. So we have a KING and a country without an HEIR TO THE THRONE. But who notices that 6 line paragraph on the title page? Who can make out what it even means? But this is the tradition of mysteries, where they give you clues but nobody notices them.
So for a while, we follow ELLEN who has delivered a baby son JACK by this redheaded dead guy who was the sole survivor of the wreck, who had SEEN HOW the ship sank, who sank it. He was a witness to a COUP D'ETAT!....And who had him hung with what perjury is a story point. But the reader's given NONE OF THAT!!!
STORY then LEAPS to TOM THE mason/ Builder who's building a country manor; He's ashamed that he's so hooked on building cathedrals that he usually keeps his family traveling like gypsies, looking for villages that want one. Agnes, his pregnant wife fumes. She wants him to settle down so they can have a HOUSE for their 14 year old son, ALFRED, and 7 yr old daughter, MARTHA. He's currently building a house for LORD WILLIAM HAMLEIGH but the EARL's daughter, ALIENA JILTS this creep. Hamleigh rides up to the construction site, nearly runs over and kills Martha, doesn't steer his warhorse away from her, then he fires the staff of builders. Doesn't want to pay, either. Tom is so angry about the warhorse that he gets the group's pay with a FIST. HAMLEIGH hates Tom from that point forward.
The family starts travelng on foot with a valuable young pig and 100 pennies. They're starving in the forest, jobless, heading for the next village when a robber appears and the PIG is stolen from Martha. Now they're desperate. WINTER IS COMING, the baby is due. Deep doo-doo!
In forest, who comes along but Ellen, the widow of the redheaded hanging victim. JACK the redhead boy is now l0 years old. Ellen and Jack meet this traveling couple, Tom and Agnes. Ellen falls for Tom straight off but scoots away after a few days, knowing he's taken. Within a few pages Tom's wife has the baby BUT as there's no food but turnips, she dies. Tom must find a village and find a job for his two children, there's no milk so he must abandon the living infant boy on the grave and move toward some village that might offer building jobs. Ellen has been following him. She picks the child up, gives it to a traveling monk who's headed for the MONASTERY knowing that the monks will care for it.
TOM the BUILDER arrives at the monastery. He and the two kids are fed and can sleep under a roof. Ellen arrives quick enough; she's after TOM as she always liked him. Jack is old enough to realize there's a job for Tom. He sets fire to the third floor of a badly built chapel and Tom is promptly hired to work on the restoration of it for the MONK, PHILLIP. He has a job. He's suddenly a catch. Tom and Ellen hook up. As abandoning an infant is a hanging offense, Tom and Ellen watch this little infant grow, never telling anyone who the child belongs to. Over the years, baby Jonathan grows into the best monk ever.
LORD HAMLEIGH chases ALIENA, the girl who jilted him for the entire book. He rapes her, the NEW KING, STEPHEN makes Hamleigh EARL of her dad's castle, so she's homeless, broke, starving. She starts a wool business, sells to the Flemish. Gets rich, and the intertwined lives of the characters do the plot dance of a typical HISTORICAL novel for the rest of the l000 pages. I ain't gonna ruin it for you. But this is the starter kit for reading this CHINESE BOX of an intricately plotted story.
NOTE: The Literary Critic for the L.A. Times said that if you want to read great novels about the dark ages, read 40's writer, ZOE OLDEBOURG. So I ordered four titles off ABE BOOKS. Will be back on you here, about them. And if the time /period interests you GOOGLE MIDDLE AGES, LIST OF NOVELS, find a list of the best. or GOOGLE: Novels Set in the Middle Ages.
Peter Ackroyd, The Clerkenwell Tales (2003)
A medieval mystery narrated by characters from Chaucer, written by one of England’s leading authors
Vanessa Alexander, The Love Knot (1999)
In 1297, the daughter of the king falls in love with a lowly knight despite her father's increasingly determined attempts to keep the two apart.
Ann Baer, Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman: A Novel (1996)
The life of Marion, wife of a medieval English carpenter.
Rexanne Becnel, The Bride of Rosecliffe (1998)
Set in medieval Wales.
Frans Gunnar Bengtsson, The Long Ships: A Saga of the Viking Age (1984)
Vikings on the rampage.
Geraldine Brooks, Years of Wonders.
An outbreak of plague in a small English village.
Sarah Brophy, Midnight Eyes (2007)
A historical romance in which the passionate Robert Beaufort goes on a quest for a notorious damsel
Sigmund Brouwer, Wings of An Angel (1992)
Set in 14th-century England. Published by a small press.
---, Dance of Darkness (1997)
Set in 14th-century Rome
Winifred Bryher, Ruan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryher
6th century Britain
The Fourteenth of October
Laurence J. Brown, HousecarlI (2002)
The Norman Conquest from the point of view of a housecarl, Ranulf.
—, Cold Heart, Cruel Hand: A Novel of Hereward the Wake and the Fen Rebellion of 1070-1071 (2004)
The continuing story of Ranulf.
Marsha Canham, Through a Dark Mist
---, In the Shadow of Midnight (1994)
A series about political and romantic dealings around 1200 in the English court.
Elizabeth Chadwick, The Conquest (1997)
Anglo-Saxon woman meets Norman man in 1066, by the author of First Knight.
---, The Champion (1998)
A 12th-century Norman adventure.
---, The Love Knot
---, The Wild Heart
—. The Winter Mantle (2003)
Events following the Norman Conquest.
—, Lords of the White Castle (2002)
—, Shadows and Strongholds (2005)
A novel of 12th-century England
Ann Chamberlin, The Joan of Arc Tapestries
a series of novels on Joan of Arc, including Gloria: The Merlin and the Saint (2005)
Brian Cherry, 985: The Discovery of America (1999)
Jocular account of the Viking discovery of America as recounted by a 12-year-old cabinboy. Published by a small press.
Bernard Cornwell, The “Grail Quest” Series:
The Archer's Tale
Set during the Hundred Years’ War. “Graphic battlefield action, strong characters and sharp plotting are Cornwell's trademarks.” — Publisher's Weekly
The Last Kingdom (2005)
Uhtred, an Anglo-Saxon warrior-in-training, comes under the power of the Viking Ragnar the Fearless. “A solid adventure by a crackling good storyteller.” — Publisher's Weekly
Michael Crichton, Eaters of the Dead
Vikings. The basis of the movie “The Thirteenth Warrior.”
---, Timeline (1999)
A Yale medievalist and three graduate students become trapped in April 1357 and have only 36 hours to find an escape. Immense period detail.
Denee Cody, Court of Love (1996)
Romantic dealings at the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Thomas B. Costain, The Black Rose
---, Below the Salt
A novel of the events leading to the signing of the Magna Carta.
A four-book series on the Plantagenet kings:
---, The Three Edwards
---, The Magnificent Century
---, The Last Plantagenets
---, The Conquering Family
Catherine Coulter, Rosehaven (1997)
Heaving-bosom romance set in thirteenth-century England.
James Cowan, A Troubadour's Testament: A Novel (1998)
Tanya Anne Crosby, Viking's Prize
Lusty tale of Viking and Norman characters with unlikely names, desiring each other.
L. Sprague De Camp, Lest Darkness Fall (1941).
Science fiction novel in which a man goes back to the sixth century to head off the Dark Ages.
Frank Delaney, Ireland (2004).
A fictionalized history of Ireland, set in the framework of a modern storyteller’s tales; many of the stories are medieval. “They’ll draw readers in...with their warriors and kings, drinkers and devils, and rendered cleanly and without undue sentimentality ... rich and satisfying.” — Publishers Weekly
Christina Dodd, Once a Knight (1996)
In 1252, the Lady Alisoun hires a knight to protect her, with predictable results.
Sara Douglass, Gods' Concubine (Book Two of the Troy Game) (2004)
A sequel to Hades' Daughter, which was set in ancient Greece. This volume is set in a fantasy eleventh-century England, and Harold Godwineson and William the Conqueror are scrapping over the labyrinthine game that Brutus established there one thousand years before.
—, The Wounded Hawk (Book Two of The Crucible) (2004)
A sequel to The Nameless Day. A fantasy novel set in 14th-century Europe, revolving around Thomas Neville, a former priest and favorite of the Archangel Michael, and his quest for relics to defeat the forces of evil.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The White Company"
Set during the Hundred Years' War, by the author better known for Sherlock Holmes.
Dorothy Dunnett, The House of Niccolo:
I: Niccolo Rising II: The Spring of the Ram III: Race of Scorpions IV: Scales of Gold V: The Unicorn Hunt VI: To Lie with Lions VII: Caprice and Rondo VIII: Gemini
Fifteenth-century swashbuckling by the popular historical novelist.
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
The famous novel of a mysterious library and a lost manuscript, inspired by Borges and full of allusion.
Ellen Ekstrom, The Legacy (2005)
Intrigue in 15th-century Italy.
Alan Fisk, The Summer Stars (1992)
Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth
The building of a cathedral in the 12th century and the personalities involved.
Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)
A killer is loose in 12th-century England. “A skillful blend of historical fact and gruesome fiction” — Publishers Weekly
John Fuller, Flying to Nowhere
An island monastery where an abbot dissects bodies to find the seat of the soul and sinister carnival abounds. Described by reviewers as "short and strange" but "beguilingly written."
Nicole Galland, The Fool’s Tale (2004)
Set in 1198, ths is “a steamy historical romance about a medieval Welsh queen’s love affair with the king’s best friend — his profane, hyperactive royal fool .... A promising debut.” — Publishers Weekly
Haley Elizabeth Garwood, the Warrior Queen series:
The Forgotten Queen
Queen Matilda of England
Swords Across the Thames
The Anglo-Saxon queen Aethelflaed.
Haley Elizabeth Gellis, the Roselynde Chronicles:
---, Bond of Blood
---, Knight's Honor
Mary Gentle, Ash: A Secret History.
First of aseries chronicling the adventures of a female mercenary captain in 15th-century Europe. It combines SF and an intense attention to historical detail with string theory to present a convincing fantasy of the collision of an alternate timeline with the present. It won the 2000 British Science Fiction Award.
Parke Godwin, Lord of Sunset (1999)
A love story between King Harold and the Lady Edith.
---, Robin and the King (1993)
Posie Graeme-Evans, The Exiled (2005)
Anne de Bohun has an affair with King Edward IV in the “lusty fifteenth century”
—, The Innocent (2005)
Another lusty volume on Anne and Edward IV
—, The Uncrowned Queen (2006)
Third in the trilogy about Anne de Bohun and the War of the Roses
Andrew M. Greeley, ed., Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy (2004)
Fifteen retellings and recastings of medieval Irish myths and legends, by authors such as Diane Duane, Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen, and Charles de Lint.
Jane Guill, Nectar from a Stone (2005).
A Welsh widow on the run in 1351, by the author of several works nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Hella S. Haasse, In a Dark Wood Wandering (1949)
A massive novel of the Hundred Years’ War, first published in Dutch.
Tom Harper, The Mosaic of Shadows (A Byzantine Mystery)
“British author Harper effortlessly draws the reader into the court intrigues and conspiracies of 11th-century Byzantium in his outstanding debut.” — Publishers Weekly
Cecelia Holland, The Kings in Winter (2000)
Ireland in the 11th century.
---, Great Maria (1993)
the final days of the reign of Baldwin IV, the king of Latin Jerusalem
Kate Horsely, The Changeling of Finnestuath (2004)
The story of Grey, a 14th-century peasant girl raised as a boy, who later becomes a warrior. “Told with rich detail, warmth and wry wit, this is a full and well-researched tale with a compelling protagonist.” — Publishers Weekly
Jennifer Horsman, Forever and a Lifetime (1990)
Jonpaul the Terrible steals away the Lady Nichole in 15th-century Switzerland in this breathless romance.
Grace Ingram, Red Adam’s Lady
Jeff Janoda, Saga: A Novel of Medieval Iceland (2005)
A retelling of a 13th-century Icelandic saga.
Ellen Joans, Beloved Enemy: The Passions of Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Novel
Brenda Joyce, The Conqueror( 1990)
Rolfe the Relentless is determined to have Ceidre, the noblewoman disguised as a peasant, and lusty dealings ensue.
Stephen Lawhead, Hood
On Robin Hood
--, The Celtic Crusades
A family of Scottish nobles and the early Crusades)
A Celtic monk, Aidan, goes on a pilgrimage to Constantinople
Arnette Lamb, Chieftain (1994)
Genre romance about romance with a Scottish chieftain in 1301.
Ann Lawrence, Lord of the Keep
Romance between Gilles d'Argent and Emma, a weaver. The kind of book that has a muscled semi-clothed man on the cover.
Emma Leslie, Leofwine the Saxon: A Story of Hopes and Struggles (1875)
—, Elfreda: A Sequel to Leofwine (1875)
Morgan Llywelyn, Lion of Ireland
About Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.
---, Red Branch
A retelling of the Ulster Cycle and the story of Cuchulain.
An orphan, Ainvar, in pre-Christian Gaul, becomes a druid and seeks to rally the Celts against the Romans.
Johanna Lindsey, Surrender My Love (1994)
Norah Lofts, Madselin (1968)
Set in Norman England.
Kinley MacGregory, Dark Champion
—, Return of the Warrior (2005)
Avon Historical Romances: “they must never surrender to the passionate yearnings of their noble hearts...”
Susan Mayse, Awen (1997)
The story of Brys, a disgraced court poet in eighth-century Wales, and historical and political intrigues.
Mary Reed McCall, Secret Vows (2001)
Romance set in 13th-century England
—, The Maiden Warrior
—, Beyond Temptation: The Templar Knights (2005)
—, The Sweetest Sin
—, The Crimson Lady
Courtesans and intrigue in 13th-century England
Elizabeth Ann Michaels, Til There Was You (1998)
Genre romance set in the Middle Ages.
Linda Lael Miller, Knights (1996)
Anita Mills, Lady of Fire
—, Fire & Steel
—, Hearts of Fire
—, Fire & Fury
—, Winter Roses
Romance novels set during the period of Henry I and Stephen and Matilda
Stuart W. Mirsky, The King of Vinland's Saga (1998)
On Leif Ericsson.
Margaret Moore, Warrior's Way
---, The Welshman's Way (1995)
Two Harlequin romances about Dafydd ap Iolo and his action-packed life.
Philippa Morgan, Chaucer and the House of Fame (2004)
“Drawing on official records, Morgan skilfully interweaves Chaucer’s actual experiences as an English diplomat into a gripping tale of murder and intrigue...outstanding.” — Publisher's Weekly
Geoffrey Moorhouse, Sun Dancing: A Vision of Medieval Ireland (1997)
William Morris, A Dream of John Ball
On the English insurrection of 1381, by an eminent Victorian.
Kate Mosse, Labyrinth (2005)
“Set both in the present and at the beginning of the 13th century, the book has two heroines: modern-day Alice, who begins the novel helping out on an archaeological dog, and Alaïs, a teenage girl in Carcassonne at the time of the Fourth Crusade” — The Observer. A book about the holy grail, and a popular successor to The Da Vinci Code.
Hope Muntz, The Golden Warrior (1949).
“Powerful, unsentimental account of the Norman Conquest.”
Alan Mussell, The Last Crusade
The experiences of Jean of Beziers from France to the Holy Land. Published by iUniverse.
Zoe Oldenbourg, Cities of the Flesh
Set in thirteenth-century Toulouse, this involves a count, the Cathars and tragic love
—, The World Is Not Enough
Medieval France, with detailed historical accuracy. The sequel is:
---, The Cornerstone
---, Destiny of Fire
The Cathar heresy. A more wooden novel than her others.
Daughter of Ireland (2002). A retelling of Celtic legend.
Bright Sword of Ireland (2004).
Finnabair, daughter of Queen Medb, narrates the story of the Táin.
Mirella Patzer, Heinrich the Fowler: Father of the Ottoman Empire.
Intrigue and love in tenth-century Germany. Published by PublishAmerica.
Edith Pargeter, The Heaven Tree Trilogy
— The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet
—, A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury
—, The Marriage of Meggotta.
Well-researched novels by the author who also writes as Ellis Peters.
Jacqueline Park, The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi (1998)
The turbulent life of a woman in 16th-century Florence, inspired by the letters of a real woman of the period.
Susan Paul, The Bride's Portion
---, The Heiress Bride (1996)
The beautiful Rosaleen meets her match in this category romance set in 15th-century England.
Diana Paxson, Master of Earth and Water (1993)
A fantasy retelling of the Irish legend of Finn MacCool.
---, The Shield Between the Worlds
---, Sword of Fire and Shadow
Sharon Kay Penman, Cruel as the Grave (1998)
—, Dragon’s Lair: A Medieval Mystery (2003).
It’s 1193, and Justin de Quincy ventures into Wales in his quest to help Eleanor of Aquitaine ransom her son, Richard Lionheart, from the Holy Roman Emperor.
— Here Be Dragons
—, Falls the Shadow
Simon de Montfort and the rising of the barons against Henry III.
—, The Queen's Man (1996)
—, Prince of Darkness
—, The Reckoning
(A trilogy set in medieval Wales)
—, The Sunne in Splendor
Richard III's role in the end of the War of the Roses and his brief reign.
—, Time and Chance
The early years of the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
—, When Christ and His Saints Slept
The chaos that ensued after the death of Henry I when his daughter Maude and nephew Stephen fought over the kingdom of England.
Jean Plaidy, The Heart of the Lion (1997)
---, The Queen's Secret (1990)
The story of Katherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI of France, who marries Henry V of England and then falls treacherously in love with Owen Tudor.
Octavia Randolph, The Circle of Ceridwen
The story of an early medieval woman, available free on the author’s website, www.octavia.net
Julian Rathbone, The Last English King (1997)
From the point of view of Walt, the only retainer of King Harold to survive the Battle of Hastings, as he wanders to the Holy Land.
---, Kings of Albion (2000)
"A wonderfully offbeat tale of medieval England at its most brutal and savage," says the jacket.
Piers Paul Read, The Templars (2000).
The story of the military order of monks from their beginnings under Richard the Lionhearted to their end, charged with witchcraft and burned at the stake. Told in three parts, of which the first is clogged with history but the second and third are fascinating.
Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth: A Tale of the Middle Ages
A favorite among the Victorians.
Bernard F. Reilly, Secret of Santiago: A Novel of Medieval Spain (1997)
Judith Merkle Riley, A Vision of Light
A novel about 14th-century England, by a historian.
Stephen J. Rivele, A Booke of Days: A Journal of the Crusades (1996)
Fay Sampson, The Flight of the Sparrow (1999)
Hild of Whitby in seventh-century England.
Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
William Scott, The Bannockburn Years (1997)
On the Scottish Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
Anya Seton, "Catherine "
Chaucer's wife's sister, Catherine, becomes the mistress of John of Gaunt.
Tim Severin, Viking: Odinn and Child (2005)
—, Viking: King’s Man (2005)
Bertrice Small, The Spitfire (1990)
Genre romance in 15th-century England.
Flora Speer, Castle of Dreams (1990)
The three women of a Welsh castle and their tempestuous romances.
Rosemary Sutcliff, The Shining Company (1990)
About the warriors in the early Celtic elegy The Gododdin.
Judith Tarr, Hound and Falcon trilogy:
The Isle of Glass
The Golden Horn
Hounds of God
Anne Thackeray, Ragnarok (1989)
Francis Thomas, The Blindfold Track (1980)
---, A Knot of Spells (1983)
---, The Region of the Summer Stars (1985)
Gunnar Thompson, Lions in the New Land: The Epic Adventures of Friar Nicholas in the Enchanted Isles (1998)
Nigel Tranter, Lord of the Isles
the “Bruce” trilogy
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter:
The Bridal Wreath
The Mistress of Husaby
Trilogy of novels about the life of a 14th-century Norwegian noblewoman, by the winner of the Novel Prize for 1928. Some now find the books slow going; others adore them.
Barry Unsworth, Morality Play
A troop of medieval English players run into trouble in this very literary novel. Nominated for the Booker Prize, but can be slow going. Also a film.
Brenda Rickman Vantrease, The Illuminator (2005)
A widow takes in a master illuminator as a lodger in 14th-century England; love. murder, and duty make their appearance. “This is an absorbing, expertly told tale” — Publishers Weekly
Anne Lee Waldo, Circle of Stones (1999)
Romantic saga set in the 12th century, about Brenda, who becomes a druid healer, and her relationship with Prince Owain.
Jill Paton Walsh, Knowledge of Angels (1994)
A medieval fable set on a Mediterranean island around 1450. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Jess Wells, The Mandrake Broom (2006)
One woman's fight to save medical knowledge during the European witch-burnings, featuring Luccia Alimenti, daughter of a medical professor at the University of Salerno, destined to carry ancient texts and herbal lore into the dangerous and ground-breaking future.
Connie Willis, The Doomsday Book
A lively, vivid and hilarious medieval time-travel narrative.
Tim Willocks, The Religion: A Novel (2007)
A French countess and a Saxon adventurer get caught up in an attack by Suleiman the Magnificent. First book in the Tannhauser Trilogy.
Linda Windsor, The Knight and the Raven (1994)
Welsh maidens, disguises and intrigue in this Zebra Lovegram Historical Romance.
Peter Vansittart, The Death of Robin Hood
2nd of 4 sections, highly evocative account of a mysterious and mythical medieval Robin Hood. Superbly done, but not to everyone's taste.
Joan Wolf, The Fatal Crown
A love affair between the 12th-century English princess Maud and her cousin and rival to the throne Stephen of Blois.
The Edge of Light
“At the outset of this powerfully wrought historical romance set in ninth-century Britain, Wolf lists the Anglo-Saxon characters, at least half of whose names begin with ‘Ethel.’” — Amazon. The story of Alfred the Great.
The Road to Avalon
Born of the Sun
Sequel to The Road to Avalon: love story of Niniane,Celtic princess, & Cealwin, bastard son ofKing of the West Saxons, after death of King Arthur.
To the Castle (2005)
Plenty of passion in this romance set in England in the time of King Stephen.
Chelsea Quinn Yabro, A Mortal Glamour (2007)
Lusty doings in a 14th-century French convent, by an author more famous for her young adult fiction.
A. B. Yehoshua, The End of the Millennium
The world of North Africa and European Jews at the turn of the first millennium, painting a wonderful picture of 10th-century Paris in the process.
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