by Mary Renault
Retelling of the story of Theseus in ancient Greece and Crete. Very interesting portrayal of fertility cult worship and how the king was expected to give his life to renew the life of the ground and of his people.
by C. S. Lewis
Retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche in Asia Minor. Also an interesting portrayal of fertility cult worship set in the context of a Christian allegory.
Anno DominiFirst Century
by Lew Wallace
Story of a wealthy, first-century Jewish prince, his persecution at the hands of the Romans, and how his life was changed through interaction with Christ. Even more epic than the epic movie based on it.
The Mark of the Horse Lord
by Rosemary Sutcliff
An ex-gladiator masquerades as the king of a Celtic tribe in Roman-occupied Britain, ends up adopting the people as his own, and learns what it really means to be a king.
Second Century Runner-Up: The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff
This was one of those empty centuries--I was unable to think of a good book that fit here. Do you have any favorites set during this time period?
Another great book by Sutcliff, this one about a Roman centurion who must keep the peace with the British border tribes and keep from making the same shameful mistake that clouded his past.
Sutcliff again here--are you noticing a trend? When the legions pull out of Britain, a young Roman stays behind to face the Saxon hordes and his own bitterness. Provides a glimpse of what the real "historical" King Arthur might have been like.
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Centuries
These centuries were very hard for me to fill. Yes, there are more Sutcliff books I could stick here, but to be honest, I can't really consider them my favorites. I have a book on my Amazon Wish List set during this time period--Paths of Exile, by Carla Nayland--but I haven't read it yet, so I can't judge its merits. I googled some historical fiction lists to see if there were some great books out there that I was missing. There weren't. These centuries seem to be a great void for historical fiction, which is sad because someone could take some of the stories from the Venerable Bede and turn them into a top-notch novel. Maybe that should be my next project, once I finish my novels about the First Crusade.
Stay tuned for more posts to finish out this list. Don't forget to comment and share your favorites from Before Christ or from the first through eighth centuries Anno Domini.