The suggestion of the 10 best historical novels is not likely to find universal agreement. This is a really good thing, as it reflects personal preferences and suggests just how wide the range of historical novels is for us fans.
So, as a preliminary to nominating my 10 best historical novels, I am going to suggest who I consider the 10 best historical novelists to be, based on their overall work. I mean, basically any of your books will fit the bill.
My criteria: can I reread them periodically? And of course the usual, like storytelling skills, etc.
You’ll notice that I haven’t included anything from the Tudor period and afterwards apart from some UK naval threads) I’m just not in love with those eras. My favorite periods are Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and Medieval. This is not to say that I am not very pleased with an author like James Michener.
This really highlights the question of criteria: should one go by period, country, historical figures, or what?
By the way, I have deliberately omitted the ones that look much more like fantasy (eg Christian Jacq’s Egyptian novels, which are poorly written anyway)
My 10 best (favorite) authors of historical fiction (the ones I look for in the library)
Sharon kay penman
10 best historical novels
Fire From Heaven – Mary Renault (includes all her works)
Adriano – Margaret Youcenar
I Claudio – Robert Graves (and Claudio the God)
Time and Chance – Sharon Kay Penman (includes all her works)
Memoirs of Cleopatra- Margaret George
Masters of Rome – Colleen McCullough
Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brien
Memnon – Scott Oden
Song of Troy – Colleen McCullough
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Honorable mentions (books)
The Egyptian – Mika Waltari
Sarum – Edward Rutherford
Honorable mentions (authors)
David Wishart (Corvinus series)
John Maddox Roberts (SPQR series)
These two, although they are not strictly historical novels, because their series are very funny, as well as well written.
David Gemmell (for Troy Trilogy)
CS Forrester (for Hornblower)
Valerio Massimo Manfredi (for the Alexander trilogy)
I enjoyed Wilbur Smith’s River God, despite the fantasy elements, which ultimately ruined the sequels.