Monday, May 20, 2013

A Novel Bibliography: A Gallery of Royals and Nobles

I'm a longtime reader and collector of historical fiction with members of royal and noble families as major characters.  It's not so much the pomp and pageantry I enjoy reading about (although check out the glamorous gowns in the covers below...) but seeing how each character deals with power and responsibility and balances the needs of their people against their personal desires.  These authors place us front and center, letting us observe how their protagonists' actions shaped the history of their country.

Here I present a gallery of 27 novels fitting this description being published in 2013, ones I haven't previously covered this year (see also Patricia Bracewell's Shadow on the Crown, Sandra Byrd's Roses Have Thorns, and Anne Easter Smith's Royal Mistress).  Although they may not be royal or noble themselves, illegitimate children, hand-fasted wives, and royal mistresses are included in this list, too.  Undoubtedly I've been forgetful and left some obvious choices out; please let me know what I'm missing.

In order:

An alternate history of the Tudors (Ballantine, May)
Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury (Berkley, July)
Eleanor of Aquitaine, first in a new trilogy (Sphere, June)

Cleopatra Selene, Queen of Mauretania, last in a trilogy (NAL, Dec)
Philip IV of France, 1st in classic series (HarperCollins, Mar)
Audrey Malte, illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII (Gallery, Sept)

Catherine of Aragon (St. Martin's, Oct)
Katherine Parr (Simon & Schuster, Aug)
Lady Godiva, wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia (William Morrow, July)

Queen Jezebel (David C. Cook, May)
Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, book 2 (St. Martin's Griffin, July)
Elizabeth of York, queen to Henry VII (Touchstone, Aug)

Marie Antoinette, book 3 in trilogy (Ballantine, Sept)
Elizabeth Tudor as sleuth, 3rd in series (Five Star, June)
Catherine de Valois, Henry V's queen, follows Agincourt Bride (Harper UK, Oct)

Yolande of Aragon, Duchess of Anjou (Constable, Oct)
Elizabeth I & Mary Q of Scots; 5th in Thornleigh saga (Kensington, May)
Alternate history of the Romanovs (St. Martin's Griffin, Oct)

Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, and singer Lucy Morgan (Berkley, Feb)
Croesus, King of Lydia in the 6th century BC (Atlantic UK, Apr)
Mary Robinson, mistress to the future George IV (Severn House, June)

Edith Swan-Neck, handfasted wife of Harold II (Accent, May)
Katherine de Valois, queen of Henry V (MIRA UK, Mar)
Magda Lupescu, mistress of Carol II of Romania (Severn House, Aug)

Katherine and Mary Grey, Tudor heiresses (Kensington, June)
Prince Jayavar of the Khmer Empire in 12th-c Cambodia (NAL, Feb)
Theodora, Empress of Byzantium (NAL, July)


  1. Love these galleries - thanks so much for posting! Who knew Katherine de Valois was such a popular royal?

  2. Oh my gosh, my TBR just grew a ton!

  3. Thanks for putting this together...I just added a ton of books to my tbr list!

  4. The last novel about Katherine de Valois must have been Jean Plaidy's The Queen's Secret. Her time in the spotlight is long overdue!

    These galleries are fun to put together. I found very few novels about kings and noblemen - it's nearly all women.

    1. Anonymous2:42 PM

      THE QUEEN'S LOVER by Vanora Bennett (2009). . . .

      I have e-galley of Queen's Gambit and am looking forward to it and the rest of the trilogy.

      I also see Princess Michael has turned to fiction.

      Sarah OL

    2. Of course - and I even have that book! - but it didn't come up in a WorldCat search when I went to remind myself what else there was. Odd.

      I've had my eye on Queen of Four Kingdoms for a while and will need to get a copy. Yolande of Aragon also appears in Dinah Lampitt's The King's Women.

  5. I do so like this post. Such a lot of gorgeous books to have as a reminder of what you are missing!

    1. They make a very colorful display, don't they!

  6. Wow! So many interesting books to come.

  7. Hi Sarah,

    I loved your list. There were a few that I hadn't heard of yet so have added them to my TBR list. Was wondering if The Serpent and the Pearl (A Novel of the Borgias) by Kate Quinn would fit your criteria?

    1. Hi Terry, Thanks, and you're right! I know about The Serpent and the Pearl and hadn't thought about it initially for this list because Pope Alexander wasn't from the nobility, but Giulia Farnese was married to a member of the noble Orsini family, so that does fit. These are the little details that run through my mind as I compile these things!

  8. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Another comment re the Fremantle book - I found a UK review which said something that I had been thinking - that, even though novels about the Tudors had been popular before WOLF HALL's publication, that book raised the bar in terms of dealing with the political and religions implications for centuries to come (and not just about some innocent young lady-in-waiting hiding behind the curtain as Very Important and Secret Conversations were held - it must have been awfully crowded back there). And the Fremantle book was continuing this. A trendlet?

    Sarah Other Librarian

    1. It sounds like it - and I hope so. I haven't read Queen's Gambit yet but I believe I read the same review. Made me look forward to reading it even more (although I still haven't gotten to Mantel #2).

  9. Once again, you blew my TBR out of the water. Man, I have to stop reading your blog, lol. Many of these look great, especially the ones about the less covered historical figures.

  10. Hit enter too quickly....

    I have a galley of The Boleyn King to read, and Gortner and Chadwicke are faves of mine. The other one that I am most interested in is The Iron King.
    But as I said, they all look good. :)

    1. I read The Iron King years ago from a ratty old paperback. Talk about an unromanticized, gritty view of the Middle Ages! And I understand the 7th book in the series will be translated into English at last.

  11. Hmm, two different books about C/Katherine de Valois yet they both seem to use the same cover model.

    But besides that, I've been really looking for a book about Empress Theodora so that's the one I'm anxious for.

    (Also looking for a HF about Agrippina if anyone has any suggestions.)

    1. They do appear to be the same cover model - and the cover for The Agincourt Bride makes it more obvious!

      For Theodora, there's also Stella Duffy's pair of novels, called Theodora and The Purple Shroud. She also appears as a major character in Mary Reed and Eric Mayer's John the Eunuch mysteries.

      Although I haven't read any novels about Agrippina myself, you might try searching Fictional Rome by subject. Quite a few come up. (The database works for other novels about Theodora, for that matter, although it hasn't been updated since 2005.)

  12. Thanks for mentioning "Royal Mistress" Sarah! That is quite a list.

    1. Hi Anne, of course I had to include it! It looks like royalty is still very hot :) I'm reading another book on the list right now, Royal Inheritance.

  13. Wonderful list, will have to go update my TBR. I'm reading The Secret History right now and recommended The Iron King to my fiance, since he is a big George R.R. Martin fan. Keep em coming!

    1. I mean to get The Secret History when it comes out - I was too bogged down with assignments to participate in the tour, but it does look good.