I'm looking for some good historical fiction. I have Bernard Cornwell down, read the whole Sharpe series and I'm working on the Saxon novels. What other good historical fiction works are there? Is Masters of Rome any good?
Memoirs of Hadrian
good Roman historical fiction
The Master and Commander series (aka the Aubrey-Maturin series) by Patrick O'Brian is a lot of fun. It's set in the British Navy mostly during the Napoleanic Wars and the War of 1812.
>I'm working on the Saxon novels
I assume you've read Ivanhoe?
Seconding Memoirs of Hadrian, Yourcenar is based.
If you are interesting in Vikings I would definitely recommend The Long Ships. Great attention to detail and cultural differences in Scandinavia.
Reads like a lite version of The Islandic Sagas. Hell of an entertaining read.
I've read a couple by Mary Renault that were pretty good: The Last of the Wine and The Mask of Apollo
The former tells the story of a boy in the time of Socrates, around the end of the Peloponnesian War if I remember correctly (read it roughly ten years ago). I don't remember it being the most amazing book in terms of how well it's written, but it was pretty good, and interesting for someone with a passing interest in ancient civilizations. Mentioned a bunch of well-known episodes from that time, like the vandalism of the hermai prior to the Sicilian Expedition. Critically acclaimed, and I respect the opinion of the teacher who assigned it more than almost anyone I've ever met (absolutely awful human being, but one of the most intelligent and well-read people I've ever known).
The latter I read about a year ago (obtained a minor myself in Classical Studies about four years ago). Wonderful book that follows a tragedian actor, similar time period. Detailed account of Syracuse during the reign of Dionysios I, including his fall. Based on studies while in school and since then, I can tell you it is absolutely historically accurate, down to the finest details. Especially interesting if you're into the Greek festivals and plays in particular.
Last recommendation: Louis L'Amour's The Walking Drum. Pretty similar to The Count of Monte Cristo, with a protagonist from Brittany who escapes enslavement and travels across Medieval Europe (from Brittany to the Iberian Peninsula and westward from there if I remember correctly, also about ten years since reading this) and the Middle East in search of his enslaved father. Vast amount of historical figures, events, books, etc., both well-known and more obscure, mentioned throughout. Would highly recommend.
>Is Masters of Rome any good?
It's fantastic, but it demands a fair amount of familiarity with the history and sources of the period. If you've devoted the requisite time to studying all of that, the rewards are infinite.