Historical novels, subtype 'just-so' stories?
May 15, 2014 1:40 PM Subscribe
I'm craving a particular subtype of historical novel: the kind that posits a dimly-remembered reality behind a famous myth/legend/story, sort of filling it out and extrapolating the details into realism.
My favorite of this kind is Mary Renault's "The King Must Die" about Theseus (also the sequel). I also enjoyed "Eaters of the Dead", about the events of 'Beowulf'.
But what are some other good ones you can recommend? More examples and specifics inside!
posted by theatro to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I have a long flight next week that's sort of freaking me out, and I'm hoping to submerge myself in really enjoyable books for as much of it as possible. And it's this type of book I feel hungry for at the moment, so I'm looking for recommendations for good ones (available as e-books if possible, to cut down on carry-on bulk).
Other details to help you calibrate:
I love the extra pleasure a good historical gives when it also seems to have little references in it that you can tell will change and grow over the millennia to become a particular legend, myth, historical artifact, etc.
I heard good things about Jo Graham's "Black Ships", that plays off of The Aeneid, but I haven't finished reading The Aeneid yet so I haven't tackled this one. (Guess I could take an e-book of The Aeneid with me too...)
I read that Rosemary Sutcliff's one grown-up novel, "Sword at Sunset", is about a historical basis for King Arthur. Is it any good?
I read Madeline Miller's "The Song of Achilles", and while I'm totally onboard for the Achilles/Patroclus relationship, I wish I had liked her depiction of Patroclus more (so passive! Very hard to buy the pacifist waffling).
I read the first Clan of the Cave Bear book back in high school, and I remember liking it, but I hear they inflate further and further into gummy Mary Sue weirdo romances, which do not sound appealing.
I've read and enjoyed the first few "Age of Bronze" graphic novels, depicting the events of The Iliad in a realistic context, but my Kindle is original-flavor and very basic, so it doesn't do that sort of thing.
Any recommendations you may have will be gratefully received!