Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Histories: Beach books (1)

Thought I’d offer a few suggestions of books to read on the beach, by the pool or stuck in the airport during BA’s latest strike. First up some historical novels. I’d be interested to hear other suggestions.

 The Shardlake Series: C. J. Sansom
Set during the reign of Henry VIII the series follows the fortunes of Matthew Shardlake; much maligned hunchbacked lawyer, disillusioned reformer and occasional investigator for the crown. A powerful evocation of the atmosphere of Tudor England, with complex plots and fascinating characters. Each book explores an issue relating to the politics and religious controversies of the times against the backdrop of Henry’s marital travails.There are four books in the series so far and another coming out in September. Check out +Alan Wilson’s review of Revelation.

The Falco Series: Lindsey Davies
Marcus Didius Falco is a gumshoe in downtown Rome during the rule of Vespasian. The series follows Falco across the Roman Empire on various private commissions and assignments for the Emperor. During his travels he is accompanied by his longsuffering partner Helena Justina and assorted members of his extended family. Davies has a wicked sense of humour and captures something of the dark underbelly of downtown Rome in the AD70s. ‘The whole thing is splendid. It has everything, mystery, pace, wit, fascinating scholarship’ – Ellis Peters. 20 books and counting.

The Cicero Trilogy: Robert Harris
Robert Harris’ first dabble with antiquity was his well received Pompeii. He then began his trilogy based on the life of Cicero. The subject gives Harris all he needs to explore contemporary topics in the context of the ancient Roman Republic. Here we are presented with a plethora of political and military characters; huge competing egos; unstable alliances and self serving coalitions; enough backstabbing and financial chicanery to make a back bencher blush and the hubris that so often accompanies power. Much more effective than The Ghost, Harris’ rather predictable and unsubtle savaging of the Blairs. The second in the series, Lustrum, has just come out in paperback, but I’d recommend starting with Imperium.


margaretkiaora said...

Love all the ones you've chosen already and will add Peter Tremaynes Sister Fidelma Series-who- dunnits set in Ireland of the 7th Century.

Philip Ritchie said...

Thanks Margaret, hadn't come across the Fidelma series so will keep a look out for them.