It’s Ancient History


History comes to life in these exciting fiction titles…


The Grass Crown

Colleen McCullough

Rome, 97 BC: Gaius Marius is triumphant. Under his command, Rome has conquered the Western world, weathered invasion and crushed its enemies. There is just one prize left to him: an unprecedented seventh consulship. But the greatest prize demands the highest price. Marius, now aging and ailing, is pitted against a new generation of assassins, power-seekers, and Senate intriguers. There are many who would like to see him fail, not least Lucius Cornelius Sulla, once his closest ally, now his most dangerous rival. Sulla and Marius' contest can only be won through treachery and blood. As a deadly enmity engulfs both men and plunges them towards madness, Rome must fight its own battle for survival.

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The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not - strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess - and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

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Mythos

Stephen Fry

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies. You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis. Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry's Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age - in all their rich and deeply human relevance. Also see book 2 in this series, Heroes.

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The Book of Longings

Sue Monk Kidd

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other's spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart. Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana's impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus's public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings. Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.

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Circe

Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child -- not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power -- the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.

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The Dovekeepers

Alice Hoffman

A tale inspired by the tragic first-century massacre of hundreds of Jewish people on the Masada mountain presents the stories of a hated daughter, a baker's wife, a girl disguised as a warrior and a medicine woman who keep doves and secrets while Roman soldiers draw near.

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Death Comes as the End

Agatha Christie

It is Egypt, 2000 BC, where death gives meaning to life. At the foot of a cliff lies the broken, twisted body of Nofret, concubine to a Ka-priest. Young, beautiful and venomous, most agree that she deserved to die like a snake. Yet Renisenb, the priest's daughter, believes that the woman's death was not fate, but murder. Increasingly, she becomes convinced that the source of evil lurks within her own father's household.

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Pompeii

Robert Harris

Recently placed in charge of the Aqua Augusta, the aqueduct that brings fresh water to thousands of people around the bay of Naples, Roman engineer Marius Primus struggles to discover why the aqueduct has ceased delivering water and heads to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius to find the problem, only to come face to face with an impending catastrophe of mammoth proportions.

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The Red Tent

Anita Diamant

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers – the four wives of Jacob – each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah's own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love. Deeply affecting and intimate, The Red Tent combines outstandingly rich storytelling with an original insight into women's society in a fascinating period of early history and such is its warmth and candour, it is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of women across the world.

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The Memoirs of Cleopatra

Margaret George

Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this lush, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, The Memoirs of Cleopatra is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayal in the ancient Egyptian world, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death rather than be paraded in triumph through the streets of Rome. Most of all, in its richness and authenticity, it is an irresistible story that reveals why Margaret George's work has been widely acclaimed as "the best kind of historical novel, one the reader can't wait to get lost in." (San Francisco Chronicle).

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Nefertiti

Michelle Moran

Fast-paced and historically accurate, Nefertiti is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history. Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods. From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Observant and contemplative, Mutnodjmet has never shared her sister’s desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. But remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear. Teeming with love, betrayal, political unrest, plague, and religious conflict, Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life in vivid detail.

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Cleopatra’s Shadows

Emily Holleman

Page-turning historical fiction that reimagines the beginnings of Cleopatra's epic saga through the eyes of her younger sister. Before Caesar and the carpet, before Antony and Actium, before Octavian and the asp, there was Arsinoe. Abandoned by her beloved Cleopatra and an indifferent father, young Arsinoe must fight for her survival in the bloodthirsty royal court when her half-sister Berenice seizes Egypt's throne. Even as the quick-witted girl wins Berenice's favor, a new specter haunts her days-dark dreams that have a habit of coming true. To survive, she escapes the palace for the war-torn streets of Alexandria. Meanwhile, Berenice confronts her own demons as she fights to maintain power. When their deposed father Ptolemy marches on the city with a Roman army, both daughters must decide where their allegiances truly lie, and Arsinoe grapples with the truth, that the only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it.

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The Ionia Sanction

Gary Corby

Athens, 460 B.C. Life's tough for Nicolaos, the only investigating agent in ancient Athens. His girlfriend's left him and his boss wants to fire him. But when an Athenian official is murdered, the brilliant statesman Pericles has no choice but to put Nico on the job. The case takes Nico, in the company of a beautiful slave girl, to the land of Ionia within the Persian Empire. The Persians will execute him on the spot if they think he's a spy. Beyond that, there are only a few minor problems: He's being chased by brigands who are only waiting for the right price before they kill him. Somehow he has to placate his girlfriend, who is very angry about that slave girl. He must meet Themistocles, the military genius who saved Greece during the Persian Wars, and then defected to the hated enemy. And to solve the crime, Nico must uncover a secret that could not only destroy Athens, but will force him to choose between love, and ambition, and his own life.

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The Silence of the Girls

Pat Barker

Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer’s epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life: wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp—concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman—and makes an ancient story new again.

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Imperium

Robert Harris

Robert Harris lures readers back in time to the compelling life of Roman Senator Marcus Cicero. The re-creation of a vanished biography written by his household slave and righthand man, Tiro, Imperium follows Cicero’s extraordinary struggle to attain supreme power in Rome. On a cold November morning, Tiro opens the door to find a terrified, bedraggled stranger begging for help. Once a Sicilian aristocrat, the man was robbed by the corrupt Roman governor, Verres, who is now trying to convict him under false pretenses and sentence him to a violent death. The man claims that only the great senator Marcus Cicero, one of Rome’s most ambitious lawyers and spellbinding orators, can bring him justice in a crooked society manipulated by the villainous governor. But for Cicero, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of absolute power. What follows is one of the most gripping courtroom dramas in history, and the beginning of a quest for political glory by a man who fought his way to the top using only his voice—defeating the most daunting figures in Roman history.

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The Splendor Before the Dark

Margaret George

Nero's ascent to the throne was only the beginning....Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome's most infamous emperor cements his place in history. With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace--and the politicians.... For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome's--and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible. Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world has ever known.

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