9 Commanding Historical Novels About The Distant Past

Ancient history is full of interesting figures living through fascinating times, from the Roman empire to the days of the Vikings. The nine works of historical fiction listed here delve into these bygone eras and make the past come alive. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Historical Fiction About Ancient Times: Our 9 Picks

Title Author
1. Angels at the Gate T.K. Thorne
2. Anvil of God J. Boyce Gleason
3. Lazarus is Dead Richard Beard
4. Freedom Within The Heart Mark Mahon
5. The Wife of John the Baptist K. Ford K.
6. Sinners and the Sea Rebecca Kanner
7. Hero of Rome Douglas Jackson
8. Gods and Kings Lynn Austin
9. The Thieves of Ostia Caroline Lawrence

Different Ways to Read the Bible

If you're a fan of fiction that takes place during biblical times, it might be interesting to study the Bible more closely. Luckily, there are versions that cater to all kinds of readers. Here are a few:

Is There A Difference Between History and The Past?

In Depth

History books are important, but exploring ancient eras through the eyes of characters living in those times is usually a lot more fun. Whether it's fighting front-line in the battles of Imperial Rome or following in the footsteps of biblical prophets, the intrigue and drama of antiquity really comes alive with good storytelling. So here are nine historical novels, listed in no particular order, that transport readers over a thousand years back in time.

In the #1 spot we have "Angels at the Gate" by T.K. Thorne. Disguised as a boy by her father, Adira grows up in a desert caravan during the biblical age of Abraham. The appearance of two angels changes her life forever. Leaving her family duties behind, and accompanied only by her dog Nami, Adira travels deep into the wilderness following one of the holy strangers, who has captured her heart. The journey ultimately leads her to the city of Sodom. Not given a name in the Bible, where she is known only as Lot's wife, Adira now tells her side of the story.

Coming in at #2 is J. Boyce Gleason's "Anvil of God." It's 781 AD and Charles the Hammer, leader of the Franks, has fought hard to unite much of central Europe. He now wants to divide up his Carolingian Dynasty among his children, but nothing goes as planned. His older sons, who are Christians, launch an attack against their pagan younger brother. Meanwhile, Charles's daughter Trudi runs away from her strategically arranged marriage to the Lombard prince. Her brother Pepin, who aids her escape, eventually emerges as a unifying force in a time of complete upheaval.

His older sons, who are Christians, launch an attack against their pagan younger brother.

For #3 we have "Lazarus is Dead" by Richard Beard. Jesus and Lazarus are childhood friends. While they take completely different directions in life and eventually become distant from each other, they also both face untimely deaths, which brings them together again. Jesus and Lazarus also share another fate. They both come back from the dead to prove the miraculous power of faith and friendship in their own way. A redemption story that goes way beyond what is normally taught in bible study, the book adds witty cultural references and creative speculations that transcend the time period.

At #4 is "Freedom Within The Heart" by Mark Mahon. The year is 925 AD and Vikings are raiding and taking control of much of ancient Ireland. The situation looks grim for the Emerald Isle. Then a homegrown hero, young Brian Boru, rises up and pulls the various Irish clans together to fight back. As the battle to fend off the Norse invaders takes place, a deep romance between Boru and his consort Saoirse ripens into maturity. Historical fact and local legend blend in this tale that chronicles the exploits of one of Ireland's most renowned champions.

For #5 we have K. Ford K.'s "The Wife of John the Baptist." Born into a wealthy Greek family, Hessa can read people's fortunes simply through hand to hand contact. When she meets John the Baptist, it's love at first touch. She soon marries the wandering prophet and accompanies him on a dangerous escapade through ancient Judea that combines history, romance, and biblical revelation. Will Hessa's intimate knowledge of John's hidden talents allow her to help him fulfill his destiny?

When she meets John the Baptist, it's love at first touch.

At #6 is "Sinners and the Sea" by Rebecca Kanner. Being the wife of Noah is no easy job. Not only does her six-hundred-year-old husband spend more time in prayer than he does with her, but our nameless heroine must also raise three children in the depraved city of Sorum. Now Noah tells her that they need to build an ark to survive a coming deluge meant to purify God's creation. With a birthmark that many consider a sign of wickedness and her own doubts about what is taking place, she wonders if she is worthy enough to be saved.

In the #7 spot, we have "Hero of Rome" by Douglas Jackson. The mental instability of Emperor Nero has frayed Rome's control of outlying territories across the empire. Britain in particular has fallen into disarray. In the wake of this, rebel Queen Boudicca's massive army gathers to run off the Romans and take back the isle completely. Will Gaius Valerius Verrens and the legions under his command be enough to stop Boudicca's revolt? It all hinges on an action-packed final showdown at the Temple of Claudius.

For #8 we have Lynn Austin's "Gods and Kings." Hezekiah is going through a religious crisis. The young man who will soon be king must confront his father Ahaz's devotion to the Canaanite god Molech. Guided by the love of two women and the wisdom of an Egyptian scholar named Shebna, Hezekiah has his own personal encounter with Yahweh, the traditional God of his people. Only then does the prince realize the depth of his dilemma and muster the faith to choose which spiritual force will guide his hand as ruler of Judah.

Hezekiah is going through a religious crisis.

At #9 is "The Thieves of Ostia," a young adult novel by Caroline Lawrence. Someone has been killing dogs in Flavia's neighborhood in Ancient Rome. But nobody knows who is doing it, or why. Enlisting her neighbor Jonathan and the help of both an African slave and a voiceless street beggar, Flavia sets out to crack the case. But the Eternal City in the 1st century AD is fraught with danger. After following several dead end leads, the kids discover that working together and combining their talents is the only way to solve the mystery.