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#1 Mergi

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:16 AM

Since my first taste of this in Neal Stephensons Cryptonomicon I've been hooked. His later work The Baroque Cycle is ridiculously extensive but my weakness is to finally get a sense of what character our legendary historical figures actually was (or at least a good interprative approximation of them), and in this work it was Newton.

 

In these books they become human.

 

Dan Simmons did a lot of well written historical fiction in thriller/horror settings. I've got The Crook Factory waiting in the to-read batch on top of one my shelves. Very much looking forward to reading it as Drood, Terror and Black Hills were all very very good.

 

I'd actually recommend anyone who is interested to make a note of these titles and buy them as quickly as possible...

 

I'd also highly recommend The Mongoliad (which is a trilogy) created and written not by one or two authors but by a myriad of people, experts in all sorts of different fields. Trying to pinpoint every little detail from way back when (I think the mongoliad plays out around 1240). I think they did real good on this one.

 

I'm not too interested in alternate historical novels, I tried John Birmingham (Without Warning, After America, Angels Of Vengeance... yes another trilogy), quite entertaining but not really my style.

 

But if you got any historical fiction to recommend I'd be very happy.



#2 Tatsu

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 05:55 PM

Have you tried Ken Follet and his novels? Pillars of the earth is huge but I have to say I haven't read it so I can't comment on how good it is.

 

An alltime favourite of mine is Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It's a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory.



#3 Mergi

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 03:46 PM

OK. I bought both Eco & Follet, though unfortunately Umberto Eco I could only find in swedish... oh well. Thx anyway.

Oh, by the way. Just finished of Dan Simmons The Abominable, I really thought it would take the same shape of genre as The Terror and Drood but it is seriously a lot less fantastic (not in a bad way) and a lot more believeable. I really well written thriller, I recommend.

#4 Tatsu

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:23 PM

What's so bad about reading Eco in Swedish? I prefere books in their original language but in the end I can't really read books in another language than German or English and since Eco is an italian guy I take it Italian is the language the book was written in. Btw. if you like The Name of the Rose I would recommend to check Eco's other books, most of them are linked with historical events/times or whatever you wanna call it.

 

Are you also interested in historical novels that play before and during the world wars? If yes I can highly recommend The Buddenbrocks by Thomas Mann and Yesterday's Streets by Silvia Tennenbaum. 

 

I didn't realise Simmons has a new book out. Terror was great but Cryptonomicon is my favourite so far. Will check The Abominable out then! Thanks for pointing it out.



#5 Mergi

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 12:09 PM

Aha, no sorry... I'm used to read everything in english. I see how odd that comment above looks now, because I would not be able to read it in italian. Though it would probably be a nice challenge. If I enjoy it, which looks rather possible when a rummage through the first few pages of the preface, I'll most likely get the rest of his books. The same goes for Follet of course.

Doesn't actually matter when the plot takes place. Read Kim Stanley Robinson - Shaman just recently, taking place during the ice age. Historical it is yet it depends on fictional characters (naturally) to establish a decently accurate representation of how life was back then.

If you haven't read Anathem by Neal Stephenson yet I would suggest you do, this one is entirely fiction but with monastery thematics throughout. I couldn't help thinking about it once I started on The Name Of The Rose.

#6 Tatsu

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 12:33 PM

Ok, I see. :) I also prefere reading books in English so I do understand that. But especially with Eco it would be great to read it in the original language I think. But that's simply not possible with Italian books for me.

 

I did read Anathem actually. It's been a while and I only remember parts of it, but I do remember that I liked it a lot. Noah Gordon is nice too. I read the Medicus (or whatever it is called in English), also recommendable. I myself I'm very interested in the period around the World Wars. Therefore I can recommend Thomas Mann - Magic Mountain and also Erich Maria Remarque (Nothing New On The Western Front and Heaven has no Favourites I like best).

 

I take ti you know The Perfume by Patrick Süsskind, imho also great.

 

I checked The Abominable but somehow the story doesn't really grap my attention. I'd rather re-read Quicksilver since I once started, then lost the plot because I didn't have time to continue reading.



#7 Mergi

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 01:30 PM

The Abominable really did grab me, but only at the end. I was expecting another historical horror plot unfold but it never did. This one actually does link itself up to the political uncertainties in europe of the 1920s and ultimately, hinted in the end, to the second world war.

Actually I just discovered historical fiction mainly due to the sci-fi writers which I had precured books from started writing the stuff instead of post-apocalyptic/post-economic breakdown/cyber punk sci-fi which they originally started off with. Had they kept on going in the same vein I'd probably never or rather much later discovered this genre.

So I will make a note of the books you have mentioned above because I've never heard about them.

I'd suggest you do re-read The Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System Of The World), it's extensive tiring and long but in the end a very rewarding trilogy from Stephenson.

#8 laik

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 08:11 PM

Have you tried Ken Follet and his novels? Pillars of the earth is huge but I have to say I haven't read it so I can't comment on how good it is.

 

 

I've read that one, to the part when the princess goes in search for her beloved jack(somewhere near the begining of final third). too much drama and romance for me. like movies these days



#9 Mergi

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 02:07 AM

Too much of anything is not good, a balance is sought.

#10 Tatsu

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:35 PM

Yeah, I'm having the Barock-Cycle in my head but at the moment I lack the time for such a "project". Btw. There are some more books that might fit you: the biography of Simone De Beauvoir. It's non-fictional obviously but besides talking about her life she also describes the social environment of the different times she lived in (after WW1, before WW2, during WW2, the fifties and the sixties...) and analyses the society and the political situation. She also wrote novels, I haven't read all of the them but The Mandarins is very good (about the clima in post-war France). The first part of her biography is called Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter btw.

#11 Mergi

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:09 AM

I'm scribbling notes here. Keep 'em coming. I'm an old fashioned bum, so I like getting my material needs satisfied from physical shops rather than internet. As it looks now the last two posts of books are on an internet availability only, so I have to get my lazy ass bum back into the warm comfort of a home and get on the online book stores. Hopefully the process of buying them is easy.

#12 Tatsu

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 12:02 PM

Here in Switzerland you can order books directly in the bookstore. Maybe you could do the same since you don't like online shopping? I'm sure the Simone de Beauvoir books aren't out of print so they should be available, even when they are not on stock directly in the shops.

 

My latest disocveries are Yesterday's Streets by Silvia Tennenbaum, it's the story of Jewish family around the world wars, it gets compared to the Buddenbrocks and I have to say it's awesome. The books from Stefanie Zweig go into the same direction, they are not as good as Yesterday's Street but still worth reading imho.

 

Btw. are you registered at librarythings.com? I love that page, you can register and then add the books you've read or want to read. You can add 200 books, if you need more you have to pay. Which I did and I like it a lot. You can compare your collection to collections from other people, look for recommendations and what not. Here's my collection if you want to sneak around: http://www.libraryth.../allcollections



#13 Mergi

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 03:49 AM

Hmmm. Yeah I guess I could ask the bookstore I frequent, usually you can order from them if there's no book stocked at the moment. They're a fantasy/sci-fi dedicated store though. Maybe I should broaden my perspective a bit.

I've now gone through both The Name Of The Rose and Pillars Of The Earth. Umberto Eco seems to have the elaborate school book approach to things, Name Of The Rose certainly could be analyzed and poked around quite a bit with. Probably that's why it made for such a horrible movie, all details and twists left out.

Ken Follet follows a more simplistic (not entirely bad though) approach to things, that's probably why it has been assimilated into a 10 part series for television. The characters are utterly one-tracked or one dimensional, one is all bad one is all dumb one is all good, so on so on. Aliena and Jack are probably the only ones to go through some more shifts in life but as laik put it having around 500 pages dedicated to only these two people simply makes for a tiresome read.

That aside I'll probably have me the World Without End as it is a sequal. And well, somehow I will probably end up watching the series as well.

I have more than two hundred books, but I wont pay for having them catalouged like on discogs. If it was free then yes.

#14 Tatsu

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 09:39 AM

Sounds like I will not give Ken Follet's book a try then. But I found another very interesting author: Edward Rutherfurd. I started reading New York yesterday and I have to say it's awesome. It tells the story of the city through the history of different families, beginning in the mid 1600. It's highly entertaining and I like his writing style. The book is huge so it will last a while. Or maybe not since I was not able to let it go for four hours... There are more books by Rutherfourd and as soon as I'm done with New York I want to read London.

#15 Mergi

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 12:59 AM

Damn, I gave up on this topic and you had a reply going just a week after my last post. Please keep on dropping those historical novels in here even though I seem quite absent!

If you liked follets "pillars" you will like world without end as well... so don't discard it just because I'm being a critic.

I'm turning my eyes onto Michael Mortimers - Jungfrustenen next, which is a swedish fictional historical work about carl linnaeus... six freakin books though. Much to keep track of.

#16 Tatsu

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:14 PM

Well, I haven't tried the Pillars book but I read mixed reviews about it and about Ken Follet in general so it's not that high on my priority list. But I finished New York and I have to say it's a real gem. I started with London from the same author and it's similarly great. There is a series about Ireland too but I don't know if I'm interested enough in the topic to give them a try. I haven't found any other suggestions lately. But I like the works of Tom Wolfe. His most known book must be Bonfire of vanities but I also like I Am Charlotte Simmons and A Man in Full a lot. His books are not really in the historical fiction department but he is very good in describing the environment of the different social classes and in different times and how they are linked.




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