Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

A few medieval novels

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Fri July 31st, 2009, 9:23 pm

I'm intrigued to discover that i've also read a good three-quarters of these, EC. (Maybe we're of a similar vintage :) )

Great to find someone else who lists Norah Loft's "Madselin" as a favourite- it's definitely my favourite NL, despite the fact that i also love the "House" trilogy and "A Wayside Tavern".

I only came across Juliet Dymoke a while ago when I bought "A Ring of Earls" on spec from an online auction, not even realising that it was about Earl Waltheof. It was you who told me about "Henry of the High Rock" at that stage. It's so frustrating with older novels-- you'll see titles mentioned, but sometimes it's almost impossible to find out anything about them. I always bless second-hand booksellers who provide a synopsis!

I recently bought another Annette Motley novel the same way, thinking it was about the English Civil War like her "Quickenberry Tree", only to discover that it was about Catherine the Great-- "Men on White Horses" Oh well, it does make for a magical mystery reading tour!

*Edit --It would make for interesting reading if everyone listed their 10 favourite medieval novels :) I'm guessing that SKP would turn up on quite a few lists.
Last edited by annis on Sat August 1st, 2009, 1:25 am, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Fri July 31st, 2009, 9:55 pm

"annis" wrote:


*Edit --It would make for interesting reading if everyone listed their 10 favourite medieval novels :) I'm guessing that SKP would turn up on quite a few lists.


And some EC!
My Blog - Reading Adventures

All things Historical Fiction - Historical Tapestry


There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Edith Wharton

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri July 31st, 2009, 10:25 pm

(I haven't yet read the Dymoke)


What!!! I thought you'd read everything, Ariadne!

I do think there's been a terrible double-standard with historical fiction, in that novels focusing on warfare, politics and other "men's" issues (even if women like to read them, too) are readily accepted as serious historical fiction, whereas historical novels in which the plot revolves around women's lives have tended to be dismissed as historical romance even when they are seriously researched, realistic portrayals of women's lives in earlier centuries. Historical novels about women do generally turn on issues of marriage and relationships, because courtship and marriage was so determinative of women's lives in past centuries, unless they were nuns or widows. But there's a great difference between a light historical romance, in which serious historical questions (which include serious questions about the nature of courtship and marriage) play a distant second-fiddle to the romantic and often not-very-realistic imperatives of the plot, and a serious historical novel about the importance of courtship and marriage in a woman's life (I'm including in the term "serious," by the way, seriously funny historical novels).
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Miss Moppet
Bibliophile
Location: North London
Contact:

Postby Miss Moppet » Fri July 31st, 2009, 11:30 pm

"Margaret" wrote:
I do think there's been a terrible double-standard with historical fiction, in that novels focusing on warfare, politics and other "men's" issues (even if women like to read them, too) are readily accepted as serious historical fiction, whereas historical novels in which the plot revolves around women's lives have tended to be dismissed as historical romance even when they are seriously researched, realistic portrayals of women's lives in earlier centuries. Historical novels about women do generally turn on issues of marriage and relationships, because courtship and marriage was so determinative of women's lives in past centuries, unless they were nuns or widows. But there's a great difference between a light historical romance, in which serious historical questions (which include serious questions about the nature of courtship and marriage) play a distant second-fiddle to the romantic and often not-very-realistic imperatives of the plot, and a serious historical novel about the importance of courtship and marriage in a woman's life (I'm including in the term "serious," by the way, seriously funny historical novels).


Couldn't agree more, Margaret. I am always looking for this type of book, that is, female-focused but not straight romance - something meaty with a lot of twists. I have to say a word in defence of PG here - I think she gets dismissed as fluffy simply because her books focus on women.

Re the list, I only have one of them, Madselin - I recognise the cover although I'm honestly not sure if I read it or not. In fact I'm not sure if I still have it or not - it was one of the 1960s and 70s vintage I inherited from my mother, but it's possible it got lost in a move or someone gave it away in a moment of madness. Hope not!

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Fri July 31st, 2009, 11:30 pm

(reposted from blog) Oh great - my summer pay is almost gone, schools starts in two weeks And I don't get a pay check for three - and now you send out this list? Seriously tho, I've read half of them and agree on each one. Never read a Holland and really think its time. Vainglory, Riley and Dymoke look very interesting. Need to check my usual searches to see if I can find them (tho I may need to hit the library first)

I so agree about the covers. I've told this before, but I rejected Here Be Dragons because of the cover, until a fellow D&D player told me that I must read it. Im so glad he did!

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Fri July 31st, 2009, 11:33 pm

"Miss Moppet" wrote:Couldn't agree more, Margaret. I am always looking for this type of book, that is, female-focused but not straight romance - something meaty with a lot of twists


I think all of the books in the list that I have read are like this, and there are many more. Sometimes, they are actually more meaty than the war books...

User avatar
Ariadne
Bibliophile
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Level

Postby Ariadne » Sat August 1st, 2009, 1:40 am

"Margaret" wrote:What!!! I thought you'd read everything, Ariadne!


Heh. I own a copy, though (and it took forever to find). Does that count? :D I've read Dymoke's Of the Ring of Earls but not Henry of the High Rock or, I don't think, whatever the 3rd one is in that series.

I agree completely about the double-standard. "Serious" novels of women's lives in earlier centuries, whatever the social class, tend to be what I naturally gravitate towards.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat August 1st, 2009, 1:47 am

Without intending to hijack EC's thread and seeing I suggested the idea, I thought I might go out on a limb and post 10 medieval novels which have had special resonance for me. It's an interesting exercise. I have had to leave out heaps of other favourites, of course. I'm a bit worried by the fact that when I look at my list, i see very few which have happy endings! I must be a sucker for a tragedy :)

In no particular order:

Frans Gunnar Bengtsson
"The Long Ships"
Vikings! The original Whale Road-trip

Elizabeth Chadwick
“The Falcons of Montalbard”
My favourite Outremer novel

Diana Norman
“The Daughter of Lir”
Classic early Diana Norman with wonderful quirky characters, set in medieval Ireland.

Dorothy Dunnett
“King Hereafter”
Set in Scotland, a poignant take on the story of Macbeth/Thorfinn and his wife, Groa

Sharon Kay Penman
“Here Be Dragons”
Another poignant love story-, this one set in Wales -- Joanna, bastard daughter of King John and Llywelyn the Great.

George Shipway
“Knight in Anarchy”
The 12th century Englsh civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda from the POV of a knight who loses everything and through a confused sense of honour pledges his fealty to the ultimate Anrachy period monster, Geoffrey de Mandeville. Brilliant picture of the collapse of an ordered society and of the mindset of an ordinary knight of the period.

Cecelia Holland
“Firedrake”
Possibly not CH’s best novel (I vote for “Jerusalem”, followed closely by “The Great Maria” ;) , but FD’s hero, Laeghaire, the touchy, proud, Irish/Viking 11th century mercenary, really struck a chord with me.

Edith Pargeter
“The Heaven Tree” trilogy (Heaven Tree, Green Branch,, Scarlet Seed)
A stained glass window in prose.

Kathleen Herbert
“Northumbria” trilogy ( Bride of the Spear, Queen of the Lightning, Ghost in the Sunlight)
Brought “Dark Age” England to vivid life for me.

Bernard Cornwell
“The Last Kingdom” (Ist in a series)
King Alfred's West Saxons v Vikings - great stuff!
Last edited by annis on Sat August 1st, 2009, 2:24 am, edited 7 times in total.

Chatterbox
Bibliophile
Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Sat August 1st, 2009, 4:32 am

Interesting how they made reasonably 'respectable' HF made like bodice-rippers back in the 1970s, and now they make the bodice-rippers look like mainstream HF!!

Gellis does cross the border a bit. I remember reading some of her early books, and liking them enough. But I've never found the romance genre that much fun to read (too predictable :D ) Or I'll enjoy romance as a byproduct of the history, a la SKP with Eleanor & Simon de Montfort, etc.

Chatterbox
Bibliophile
Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Sat August 1st, 2009, 4:46 am

My top 10 medievals:

1. Katherine, by Anya Seton

(no explanation required...)

2. The Reckoning by SKP

(because it's here that she stops using quite so many artificially arcane linguistic tricks, like "certes")

3. The World, the Flesh and the Devil by Reay Tannahill

Great novel, moves between France, Scotland and a bit of England.

4. Jerusalem by Cecilia Holland

So far, my fave book about the Crusades & Outremer.

5. The Gentle Falcon by Hilda Lewis.

Yes, I know it's a children's book, but it's earned its place on this list... :)

6. Morning Gift by Diana Norman

The civil war (the one that pitted Matilda against Stephen), and a great writer.

7. Brothers of Gwynned Quartet by Edith Pargeter

I think I preferred this to the Heaven Tree trilogy, though I enthusiastically second Annis's comments re her writing.

8. The Black Rose by Thomas Costain

An English scholar and his friend, an archer, travel to Byzantium, and then on to China. Great story.

9. Within the Fetterlock by Brian Wainwright

Excellent novel, though it could do with a bit of deft editing.

10. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham

Because it made me care about characters I knew little about. Definitely displaced books about Isabella that I had read that might have occupied this space.


Eleanor Fairburn and Juliet Dymoke are good, but the books aren't meaty enough to be included on this list.


Return to “Later Medieval”