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Topic: Please tell me about your favorite HF books/authors.

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Subject: Please tell me about your favorite HF books/authors.
Date Posted: 7/17/2009 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2006
Posts: 580
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I personally have never read HF that I know of, but I am organizing a book club this month for my local mothers group. HF and mystery are the favorites, so I was looking for some ideas that might incorporate both. Please help, and thank you in advance :)

Date Posted: 7/17/2009 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
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Try the Silent series by Deanna Raybourn. (Silent in the Grave is first). They are really good.
Date Posted: 7/17/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
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I've heard that Sharon Kay Penman's mysteries are good, but I haven't read any of them yet. Maybe another HFer will pipe in!

Date Posted: 7/17/2009 10:11 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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You could try Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.

Date Posted: 7/18/2009 9:11 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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For a bit of spice, As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann is superb. My favorite historical mystery is An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.

Date Posted: 7/18/2009 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I'm going to recommend C. J. Sansom's series: Dark Fire; Dissolution; Sovereign; Revelation. Any of these are excellent HF and GREAT mysteries!

Date Posted: 7/19/2009 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
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In historical mysteries I love Peter Tremayne's Fidelma series about a dalaigh (combination of judge, lawyer, detective and mediator) in early medeival Ireland.  I also love Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael series and Laura Joh Rowland's series in samurai Japan.

In non-genre historical novels, I love Manda Scott's novels about the ancient Celtic rebel leader, Boudica.  The last one, Dreaming The Serpent Spear is at the top of the list for me.  I also love Zorro by Isabel Allende.  ( I love anything Zorro, but the Isabel Allende novel is special).  Other favorites are the biblical novels, Wisdom's Daughter by India Edghill about the Queen of Sheba and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  Then there's Daughter of the Red Deer, my favorite prehistorical, by Joan Wolf.





Date Posted: 7/20/2009 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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For your purposes, I would also go with the Deanna Raybourn series - they are delightful - easy to read, not too thick, wonderful characters, beautiful descriptions and a leading man who is just to die for !! The mysteries are all well-developed & the plot moves nicely throughout the entire book. Our leading lady has a passel of siblings that would rival any family angst that your group could come up with !!

Sharon Kay Penman is also wonderful - and a favorite of mine - but her HF books are longer, involve lots and lots of characters and are generally more complex. I highly recommend them, just know that they do require a bit more time and attention. On the other hand, she has written a mystery series set during the time of Queen Eleanor's regency (King Richard is in prison) featuring a young man (Justin de Quincy) who has been recruited as Eleanor's spy. The first one is The Queen's Man. Linda & I enjoyed these books very much - and if the late 10th century is of interest, you might take a look at this series. NOTE: these books are fairly short & may not be long enough.

Moving on to one of England's other Queens - Elizabeth I - PF Chisholm has written a series that Linda & I also love - the Sir Robert Carey mysteries. They are based on actual fact & are just great! Sir Robert Carey was Elizabeth's cousin & was posted as a young man to the Scottish border. That is the setting for these books & they are peppered with wonderful Scottish characters - some bad & some good. The first one is A Famine of Horses. You might see if this is a series that would be of interest to your group.

Lastly, don't forget Elizabeth Chadwick (not the romance writer of that same name, but our own HF novelist from England). Suggested titles include Shadows & Strongholds, followed by Lords of the White Castle. Another 'couplet' is Winter Mantle, followed by Falcons of Montabard and then her most popular William the Marshal series is A Place Beyond Courage followed by The Greatest Knight followed by The Scarlet Lion. AND, she has many other wonderful, wonderful books!

On the American side of the pond, take a look at Shadow Patriots, by Lucia St. Clair Robson or Celia Garth, by Gwen Bristow. Also Beverly Swerling has written some excellent books set in the early days of Manhattan Island - the first being City of Dreams.

Good luck & report back on what you chose & how everyone liked it.



Last Edited on: 7/20/09 8:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/20/2009 9:40 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2006
Posts: 580
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Thank you so much everyone! This gives me a lot to work with :) I really appreciate your help, and maybe I will even find a new genre to devour out of this, lol.

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 9:45 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,438
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 ... maybe I will even find a new genre to devour out of this, lol. ...

Without a doubt, Rebecca ... dip your toe in this genre & before you know it, your swimming in the deep end !!!

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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I've heard that Sharon Kay Penman's mysteries are good, but I haven't read any of them yet. Maybe another HFer will pipe in!


They're fabulous, but widely regarded as hard-core HF, and long to read--might be too much for the folks in the group who are not the HF aficionados.  I'll assume they've read all the Diana Gabaldons, but if all of her that they know is the Outlander series, they might like a selection of hers that veers of--the Lord Grey series, for example.  Just Google Diana Gabaldon to see what I'm talking about...or go to her own website.


The above suggestions of As Meat Loves Salt and Instance of the Fingerpost I second heartily, those are good reads, even for non HF-ers.  You could also try some of the older stuff--the John Jakes series is incredibly readable, for example.

Subject: HF Suggestion
Date Posted: 7/24/2009 7:25 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2009
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Not for the faint of heart, but Ken Follett's series on medieval cathedral builders, Pillars of the Earth and the sequal, World Without End are great.  I was daunted by their size, but speed through them due to the great characterizations and plots that keep you reading a few more chapters.  And both came from PBS!


Date Posted: 7/24/2009 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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As far as mysteries, I'll second (or third or whatever it is, LOL!) Mistress of the Art of Death and An Instance of the Fingerpost.  The former is probably an "easier read" and it is the first in a series of three books. I haven't read the other two yet, but I've heard good things.  An Instance of the Fingerpost is not a quick or easy read.  I struggled a bit at first, but once I got used to the style in which it was written, I really, really enjoyed it. One of my favorite books ever.  It's also one of those books where you don't realize exactly how good it is until you finish it, close the book, think about it for a second and go, "Dang, was that a goooooooood book!"  ;)  I adore it!

Not a mystery, but a very good HF classic, which I'm just finishing reading is The Far Pavilions.  It's really a good book and despite its length, it never seems to drag. 

Finally, I would not be living up to my reputation as a fanatic here if I didn't mention the man - Bernard Cornwell.  Very prolific.  I have yet to conquer all things BC, but give me time.  In the meanwhile, my favorite of his so far has been his Saxon Chronicles.  Awesome!!!


Date Posted: 7/24/2009 2:11 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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Sharan Newmans has a series  set in 12th century France.  "Death Comes As Epiphany" is the first and all of them can be a stand alone read.  These are on my keeper shelf.  Called the Catherine LeVendeur Mysteries.

Also Roberta Gellis wrote a series of historical mysteries that are stand alone reads.  The first is "A Mortal Bane", set in a london brothel owned by King Stephen's brother the Bishop of Winchester.   Also on my keeper shelf.  Called the Magdalene la Batarde Mysteries and are also set in the 12th century.

Last Edited on: 7/24/09 2:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1