Friday, November 23, 2012

Favorite Author: Gillian Bradshaw

When it comes to novels, there is only one genre I steadily covet: historical fiction. Finding authors that don't infuse their prose with modern sensibilities is not easy, let me tell you; life then greatly differs from life now, and I am most insistent on a semblance of accuracy.

Gillian Bradshaw has written books of both of history and fantasy, but her latter genre I do not find satisfying; usually it is simply a hint of the improbable without explanation or background. My fantasy can't restrict itself to the occasional cameo; I want an entire culture, society, and so forth. But her historical novels have left me breathless and white-knuckled. 
  • The Beacon of Alexandria: To avoid an undesirable marriage, a young woman masquerades as a eunuch to learn medicine. And her teacher is a Jew. 
  • The Bearkeeper's Daughter: A young man seeks his biological mother, who is the empress of Byzantium. 
  • The Imperial Purple: A talented weaver is drawn into a conspiracy to overthrow the government; she struggles to save herself and her family from higher and stronger forces than she. 
  • Island of Ghosts: After his people are routed by the Romans, a prince of the Sarmatians makes a new life in Britannia, dodging betrayal, conspiracies, and his own dark memories. 
  • Cleopatra's Heir: Mostly conjuncture, a "what if?" had Cleopatra and Caesar's son, Caesarion, had escaped and lived.
  • Render Unto Caesar: A naive, honest merchant travels to Rome to seek justice, only to battle corruption and danger.
  • Alchemy of Fire: A royal concubine turned perfumer befriends a brilliant alchemist whose inventions could save their city in war. 
  • London in Chains: Based during the British Civil Wars, a young woman travels to London to seek a new life after being brutally gang-raped by soldiers on her own side. There she finds a cause to work for, friends, love, and her own strong self. 
  • A Corruptible Crown: A sequel to London in Chains.
All of these I greatly enjoyed and would happily re-read at any time.


fudge said...

As a fellow Gillian Bradshaw fan, I can't help but notice that you are missing her absolute best works: Hawk of May and Kingdom of Summer! Could it be you haven't read them? These books retell the Arthurian legend of Gawain, the strong warrior torn by a desire to emulate Arthur's court and values while still winning the approval of his dark, beautiful witch mother Morgaine, and especially his troubled younger brother Mordred.

If you haven't read them, GET THEE to a library now...I wish I could have the pleasure of reading these again for the first time...

PremonitionsofanAfterthought said...

I'm always looking for a good novel- and I absolutely love history so historical fiction seems like a good fit. Lots of historical fiction I've read in the past left much to be desired. I'm rather picky with my prose....I'm going to check some of these out of the library today!! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read anything by Ariana Franklin? I highly recommend her book City of Shadows.

Princess Lea said...

Fudge: The reason why I didn't read those was because I had read a great Arthurian redo by Bernard Cornwell and I'm not yet ready to have opposing retellings in my head. But with your glowing review I shall get them now! Many thanks!

POAA: Same here - I love history. Prose definitely counts, and Bradshaw is pretty good.

Anon: I have not! Thanks for the recommendations; I'm running out of reading material!

PremonitionsofanAfterthought said...

I got Hawk of May :-) happy reading everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried Rosemary Sutcliff's novels? They are some of the only truly authentic historical fiction books that I've read... even the language and narrative is incredibly real and natural

Princess Lea said...

Anon: Ooh, I love it when they are so accurate! The most recent book I have read like that was Geraldine Brooks' "Caleb's Crossing." Pretty fab.

I will take out Rosemary! Many thanks!