Historical fiction books are part of an eclectic genre that includes everything from romance to action stories. The tales are unique because the authors include realistic backdrops to the stories, so readers can feel fully immersed in the past as they follow the protagonists through their adventures.
Historical fiction books can be powerful critiques of social or political issues, and readers can use them to highlight the enduring aspects of human nature. Historical fiction has a long history, with the first known recorded stories appearing in ancient Greece, for example, The Illiad. The Tale of Genji, written by a Japanese court lady and penned in around 1000 A.D, is classic Japanese literature. Historical fiction books gained prominence in Europe the 1800s, perhaps as a result of the conflicting social forces resulting from the Enlightenment, or The Age of Reason. This influence was felt across the ocean, too, as American authors such as James Fenimore Cooper began to explore stories with historical sceneries.
Collectors of vintage historical fiction books may enjoy the romance and action in Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, whose title character finds that his fresh return from the Crusades is anything but peaceful. Those with an interest in the history of the Far East may wish to read Pearl S. Buck's Pulitzer-prize winning book, The Good Earth, a heart-breaking journey through the life of a peasant Chinese family before World War I. Umberto Eco's masterpiece, The Name of the Rose, follows the clever Brother William through a Franciscan abbey to uncover heresy, murder, and the stunning secrets of a book-laden labyrinth. Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth is a gripping drama that revolves around the construction of a medieval English cathedral.
Buy historical fiction books to build your own library of memorable tales. These enduring stories highlight the richness of history and the many facets of what makes us human.