Genre guide – Historical fiction

This page links to recommended reading lists for a range of Historical fiction sub-genres as well as other Historical fiction resources. It also lists authors whose work you may like to try - including familiar names and some that may be new to you.

Historical Fiction is storytelling on a grand scale. Explore the politics of high society, palaces and castles, courtly intrigue, wars waged over love and honour, and reputations made and ruined. The settings often transport readers to scenes of historical events. Sail with pirates, fight with the Roman army, or gossip in the drawing room with ladies in waiting, and witness how kings and queens are made.

Like stories set in the past that span generations? Try out Saga fiction genre guide.

Authors of historical fiction

Recommended reading

Gritty Historical 

There's no drawing-room gossip or lacy-fainting in these titles! In these stories you'll find pioneers, survivalists, violence & grime - just how it was for the majority of humans living in the previous centuries...

Historical Adventure

Travel back in time and go on an adventurous journey without leaving your chair! Discover what it would've been like to march in a Roman legion, sail with pirates, escape with a gang of bushrangers, take the oar on a Viking longship... This and more can be found in the pages of an Historical Adventure novel. Take this selection and explore your way through battles, sieges, revenge, and conquest.

Historical Fiction - Christian

Historical Christian fiction features strong themes of faith, courage, kindness and family values embedded into the main plot. Often very pleasant reads - no profanity, clean romances, and inspirational tales. If you like historical fiction and you are after something positive with added drama, suspense and adventure, with a side of romance these titles are a great place to start.

Historical Fantasy

Set in an identifiable period of history but embellished with the author’s own imagination, Historical Fantasy fiction delivers historical realities, complex plots, and some level of magical or other-worldly content. Myths and legends become historical figures and the balance of what really happened vs. what could have happened is constantly challenged. Expect vivid setting, good pace, and interesting characters.

Historical Military Adventure

If you like Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Sharpe’ series, or the naval heroics from the pen of Patrick O’Brian (Master and Commander), then these titles are for you. Honour and duty, bravery and enterprise, all packed together with a seemingly unstoppable enemy to create action-packed sagas of triumph and heroism. 

Historical Mysteries (of the ancient world)

Tales of murder and intrigue, set in the Ancient eras of Rome, Greece, and Egypt. These stories are lavish in detail and have a strong sense of place, breathing life into the ancient world and the intriguing characters residing there. Good things come in big packages it turns out - many of these novels are firsts in their series, part of a wider body of work by their authors. Pick these up if you want to be transported to an era still captivating readers thousands of years later.

Historical Romance

Set during various time periods - capturing the courtship drama of the past (including forbidden romance). If you like stories about love, passion, adventure and gentlemanly endeavours... come hither, darling!

Historical Fiction - Royalty

Discover the world through the eyes of some great historical figures, when aristocracy thrived and your family named mattered. If you enjoy decadent stories, passionate love affairs, political scandals, royal fashions, and deceitful court betrayals this is the list for you. 

Historical Fiction - Women's voices

The authors in this selection illuminate women's perspectives in their work. Through their characters they ask the reader to consider women's experiences within historical contexts, in which men's voices and narratives have long been privileged over those of others.

Historical Sagas

If you like epic, enthralling tales that often span generations this is the list for you! Most of these stories are based on historical events, places or people, often entwining sub-stories, giving us a wider-than-life view of the world. While sitting in your 21st century living room immerse yourself in the drama of past!

Historical Westerns

Action-packed revenge tales, desperate survivalists, cruel and violent outlaws, gothic landscapes... these are the ways of the Western. There's violence and brutality, but also love - of family, of life, of nature. Often it's a "pioneering against the odds" existence and a battle just to keep your family fed but in a lawless community you may have to take justice into your own hands. So seek vengeance and be quick with the draw! 

New Zealand Historical Fiction

These titles all offer a glimpse into New Zealand's past and how it might have been to live, love and survive in those times. Expect locations that are only partly familiar, and in some stories portrayals of real life figures from New Zealand history.

For more Historical Fiction try:

In the catalogue: