There are lots of different fictional genres out there for you to enjoy, but there is nothing quite like historical fiction.
Medieval-era fiction is especially great because it takes real-life history and adds an exciting fictional twist that keeps you hanging on to every page.
The Middle Ages were incredibly rich and complex in their stories and history, and medieval fiction borrows lots of information from them, giving us more exciting stories that have a layer of reality to them.
If you are looking for some medieval-era books to read then you have come to the right place!
We have put together a list of 10 medieval-era books that will really make you love historical fiction, and if you’ve never read any books like this, you might have just found a new favorite genre!
What Is Medieval Era Fiction?
Medieval-era fiction is pretty much exactly what it sounds like!
These books are set in the Middle Ages and they often tell the tales of castles and knights, the Anglo-Saxon and Norse invasions of Britain, and stories of kings and queens of the time.
There is a lot that goes on in medieval-era fiction, and although the stories are rooted in fact, the fictional aspect of these stories allows for a lot of embellishment!
This is why you may find some fictional creatures or events in some of these stories, but that only adds to the fun of the genre!
10 Medieval Era Books That Will Make You Love Historical Fiction
In the middle of the ninth century, the ferocious Danes made their way onto British soil, looking for treasure and conquest. No one in England could stop the Danes as kingdom after kingdom fell. But one kingdom remained.
Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, is captured as a child by the Danes. They raise him as one of their own and by the time the Northmen try to fight back against Wessex, he considers himself to be one of them.
When Alfred defeats the Danes and the Danes turn on Uhtred, he has no choice but to finally choose a side. At this point, he is a young man who is in love, and ready to take his place in the shield wall.
All he wants is to reclaim his father’s land – the beautiful fort at Bebbanburg that sits right next to the Northern Sea.
- The world is very immersive and you will feel like you are a part of the story.
- There isn’t much character development for many of the characters in the story.
After holding the hand of his mother and watching her die, Rob Cole is orphaned and put into the care of a barber-surgeon.
As he grows, he becomes a fast-talking swindler, spending his days selling a worthless medicine that doesn’t work.
Rob Cole also has a strange gift- an acute sensitivity to impending death, and he finds himself yearning to become a healer.
The only authentic medical schools are the Arab madrassas, so he makes his way to Persia in order to learn.
The only issue is that Christians are not allowed to enter Muslim schools, so he claims to be a Jew and ends up working under the most renowned physician in the world, Avicenna.
It is under Avicenna’s tutelage and his adventure to Persia that Rob Cole shapes his destiny forever.
- The descriptions of the landscapes are very detailed and immersive and the story gives you an interesting perspective into early medicine and the lack of knowledge at the time.
- The book is quite long and slow in multiple parts.
Based on a true story, Rebel Nun documents the tale of Clotild- the daughter of a sixth-century king and his concubine.
At this time in history, women had few choices in life that really boiled down to prostitution, motherhood, or the cloister. The latter was the only one that offered them any form of independence.
However, by the end of the sixth century, the church began to eject women from the clergy, under the pretense that they were too unclean to touch sacramental objects or their priest-husbands.
Due to being an illegitimate child, Clotild decides she wants to become the next abbess of the all-female Monastery of the Holy Cross. This cloister is the most famous all-female one of the sixth century.
However, when the bishop of Poitiers seeks to control the nunnery himself and blocks her appointment, Clotild orchestrates an escape, which includes leading a group of uncloistered nuns on a dangerous pilgrimage to beg her royal relatives to help them.
The bishop of Poitiers refuses to back down and a battle ensues. The story follows Clotild and the group of uncloistered nuns as they fight against all odds to avoid being excommunicated, and possibly, even death.
- The book is filled with details about the time period, giving you a better understanding of what was going on from a modern perspective.
- Though it is based in the sixth century, the writing is very 21st century, which can break immersion.
Languoreth is an intelligent, passionate, and rebellious young woman from ancient Scotland.
She was one of the most powerful early medieval queens in history, and she ruled during a time of enormous disruption, with many wars and battles happening all around her.
When Christianity threatens to wipe out the pagan beliefs she and her people follow, she does everything in her power to stop it.
With the help of her twin brother Lailoken, and a druid and warrior known as Merlin, Languoreth is thrust into a dangerous world and she must do everything she can to be careful and not be defeated.
The war brings Emrys Pendragon to their door and Languoreth strikes up an unexpected bond with the handsome warrior Maelgwn.
Though there is a connection between them, Languoreth is promised to Rhydderch- the son of the High King who is sympathetic to Christians.
As Rhydderch’s wife, Languoreth assumes her duty to fight to preserve the Old Way, her kingdom, and everything she loves.
- The story is well-researched and filled with accurate information regarding the time period and characters.
- The narration can be described as being quite poor, which makes the story a bit lacking overall.
Venetians in exile, Hannah and Isaac Levi set up a new life for themselves in Constantinople in the year 1579.
While Isaac runs a newly established business in the silk trade, Hannah spends her days as the best midwife in all of Constantinople.
She is currently tending to the thousands of women who are a part of Sultan Murat III’s infamous harem, which allows her access to the palace.
Things are going well enough, until one night, she is summoned to the palace and confronted with Zofia- a poor Jewish girl who has been abducted and sold into the Sultan’s harem.
The Sultan has favored Zofia as his latest conquest and wants her to produce an heir for him, but she just wants to go home, back to the life she has always known.
Hannah doesn’t know what to do in this situation and has to make a choice. Will she retain her high esteem with the Sultan? Or will she help Zofia and risk her own life, and livelihood to protect her?
- The main character is written well and it is easy to understand and identify positively with her.
- The story ends with a lot of loose ends and plot points unfinished.
In San Francisco in 2007, Madeline Moretti is grieving her fiancé’s death. She finds no joy in anything anymore, so her fiery Italian grandmother sends her to Tuscany in order to heal.
When Maddie arrives in Tuscany, she is immediately immersed in a mystery regarding a local ruined villa.
The villa was destroyed centuries ago by a legendary storm on the Eve of St. Agnes. Ever since that fateful night, it has been known as Casa al Vento- The House of the Wind.
In Tuscany during the year 1347, Mia hasn’t spoken to anyone since her mother’s death. She spends her days living in silence with her aunt. On a dark night, a mysterious couple comes to the villa in order to seek refuge.
Mia is used to welcoming passersby to the villa, and she is infatuated with the bride’s compassion and radiance, but cannot understand why she won’t reveal her name.
Mia goes on a journey to discover who she really is, and tries to understand why her presence there must be a secret.
In a story that spans centuries, both Maddie and Mia are haunted by the myth of the woman who walked the halls of The House of the Wind.
- The way the stories parallel and intertwine with each other works really well and adds a unique flare to the book.
- Some aspects of the plot are considered to be too predictable, which can make the story less entertaining.
Set at the court of Edward IV and his incredibly beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne begins her life as a delightful and happy child but quickly evolves into a desperate and fearful young woman, especially when her father makes war on his former friends.
Just as things couldn’t get any worse, Anne is married off at the age of 14, and she finds herself widowed and fatherless. On top of this, her mother is in sanctuary, and her sister is married to the enemy.
Desperate to escape, Anne’s only way out is to marry Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.
Believing this is the only way she can save herself, she does it, but she soon learns that her decision will lead her on a collision course with the unstoppable power of the royal family.
Anne’s story is only just beginning.
- The story is immersive and keeps you stuck in the time period without breaking that immersion.
- The story isn’t really too original, and borrows a lot of ideas from other stories.
Norway, 9th Century. At the age of 15, Asa’s father and brother are murdered by the incredibly vicious warlord Gudrod. To make matters worse, she is then forced from her home to be his bride, and she falls into despair.
Asa attempts to escape from her new husband, but she is discovered by his son, Olaf.
Asa wishes that Olaf had proposed to her instead of his vicious father, and he wishes the same, but his duty to his father compels him to bring her back after her escape.
Asa is desperate to save her people from being pushed for her actions, so she reluctantly agrees to marry Gudrod. She does this with the goal of getting retribution and saving her people.
And the only way she can save her people is by becoming Gudrod’s queen.
Based on the real-life Queen Asa, The Norse Queen paints a detailed picture of early medieval Viking life.
The story blends historical fiction and fantasy together to tell the story of Asa, and her sacrifice and courage after the murder of her father and brother.
- The pace of the story is firm and steady, while never diverting from the main theme.
- Some of the characters are quite two-dimensional and not well-developed.
Shira is raised by her rabbi father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy. She is a free-spirited girl who loves to learn, which shocks her whole community.
When her father is arrested by the local baron who is intent on enforcing the Catholic Church’s strictures against heresy, Shira does everything she can to fight for his release.
During her quest, she meets two men who will have a profound impact on her life- an aspiring Catholic priest and a brilliant scholar named Meir Ben Baruch. Shira goes on to fall in love with Meir.
She marries Meir and goes on to live with him in Paris. She adapts and blossoms into motherhood and is a wonderful wife.
However, after witnessing the burning of every copy of the Talmud in Paris, the family seeks refuge in Germany, but they still can’t escape the anti-Semitism.
With nowhere else to turn, Shira and her family make their way to Israel, only for Mer to be captured and imprisoned by Rudolph I of Hapsburg.
Dealing with heartbreak, Shira tries to show her children and grandchildren how to embrace life’s joys, both secular and religious.
- The author really draws you into the time period and keeps you there with ease.
- The story is more fiction than historical, so lots of the ‘historical’ elements aren’t reliable.
Alan Grant is an Inspector for Scotland Yard. He is currently recuperating from a broken leg and becomes absolutely infatuated with a portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the king.
Could the face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains- a horrific hunchback who may have gotten rid of his brother’s children in order to secure the crown?
With the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, Inspector Alan Grant is determined to find out once and for all what kind of man Richard Plantagenet was, and he also vows to discover what really happened to the Little Princes in the Tower.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is a suspenseful tale that blends mystery with history and adds a delightful bit of fiction to create a gripping story that will keep you engaged long after you have turned the last page.
- This story is a unique take on medieval-era fiction that you won’t find anywhere else.
- There are lots of names to remember which can get quite confusing the deeper into the book you get.
If you want to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Medieval fiction, then there are plenty of books for you to look into!
Whether you want to follow the stories of kings and queens or to experience a story that happens outside of England, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The books we have listed here are a great place to start, especially if you haven’t delved into this genre before.
Exciting and entertaining, these books are immersive and full of interesting tales that will make you think you are existing in the time alongside the characters!
Give some of these books a read today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Medieval-Era Fiction Books Need To Be Historically Accurate?
While most authors tend to stick to the facts, no, historical-era fiction books do not need to be historically accurate!
Are Medieval-Era Fiction Books Based On True Stories?
Yes and no – some medieval-era fiction books are based on true stories, while others are just made up and set in that time period.