Historical fiction

Marius's Mules by SJA Turney

If I wasn’t a fantasy writer, I should dearly love to write historical fiction. And as a reader, this year I have tried to read mostly hist.fict.  which includes those I listed in my shopping spree last night as well as a re-visit of the unparalleled Dorothy Dunnett.  To me, these top rated authors are paying an enormous compliment to time past, to our ancestors, to the breadth of experience that has brought us to this point in our existence.  None more so than those who write of ancient Rome.  I have read Marius’ Mules this year and below is my review of it for Amazon.com:

Marius’s Mules presents a meticulous attention to detail and to historic fact . But the line between fact and fiction is seamless and invisible thus offering an entertaining and unpatronising read. The characters, led by the worn persona of Fronto are supremely ‘everyman’ and therefore utterly believable.
Whilst one has historically been informed that Roman conquests were the result of the foresight and brilliance of men like Caesar, this book flies in the face of that concept, revealing a far more likely idea . . . that perhaps the ingenuity was in Caesar’s weary officers, just as the muscle and effort came from the legions of men who fought for Rome.
Turney gives us idiosyncratic men of wry humour, with a healthy disrespect for authority and an even healthier belief that ‘what doesn’t kill one makes one stronger.’
The battle scenes are delivered with pace, movement and colour, full of cinematographic grandeur and laden with dust, guts and bravery.
I am ignorant of much of ancient history, but this novel offered so much information in such a measured way that it is impossible not to recommend it. Five stars.

I am a fan of Mr.Turney’s writing and its reassuring to know that he has been well-reviewed by the likes of the Scarrows and by Liviu on Fantasy.Book.Critic His website is full of interesting detail and vast humour: http://www.sjaturney.co.uk  This isn’t a dusty old fogey from the halls of academia, that’s for sure!

A book that I recommend for the stalwart embroiderers amongst bloggers and even for those who just love looking at a beautiful book, and especially those interested in illuminated manuscripts, is Stumpwork Medieval Flora by Jane Nicholas. I’m a stumpwork embroiderer, and it’s because of Jane’s wonderful work and her Masterclasses that I was inspired to write the fantasies The Stumpwork Robe and The Last Stitch. Even if you don’t embroider, have a look at http://www.janenicholas.com and prepare for being over-awed.