Best Medieval Historical Fiction Books

Medieval Tales Unleashed: The Best Historical Fiction Books

Embark on an extraordinary journey through time with the best medieval tales. These remarkable novels expertly blend historical accuracy with compelling narratives, transporting you to a bygone era of honor and peril. From humble villagers to mighty rulers, these books breathe life into a world that is both harsh and enchanting. Uncover the lives of fearless knights, noble maidens, and cunning adversaries as they navigate the intricate web of medieval society. 

Best Medieval Historical Fiction Books

Whether you seek thrilling action and adventure, philosophical and thought-provoking narratives, or captivating romance and intrigue, there’s a book that will transport you to the magic of the Middle Ages.

GenreBook TitleAuthor
Action and AdventureThe Last KingdomBernard Cornwell
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingThe Name of the RoseUmberto Eco
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingThe Western WindSamantha Harvey
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingThe Buried GiantKazuo Ishiguro
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingPilgrimsMatthew Kneale
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingThe Invention of FireBruce Holsinger
Philosophical & Thought ProvokingCloud Cuckoo LandAnthony Doerr
Romance & IntrigueLady of The EnglishElizabeth Chadwick

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (1)

In Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant, readers are immersed in a post-Arthurian Britain obscured by a mysterious mist. Elderly couple Axl and Beatrice embark on a quest to find their lost son, encountering warriors, mythical creatures, and a divided society along the way. Ishiguro’s masterful storytelling blends history and fantasy, delving into themes of memory and love. The novel explores the consequences of forgetting and the power of collective remembrance. 

With lyrical prose and thought-provoking insights, The Buried Giant is a captivating blend of historical fiction and myth, offering a unique exploration of human connection and the complexities of confronting the past.

Pilgrims by Matthew Kneale (2)

This novel weaves together multiple narratives of individuals undertaking pilgrimage, offering glimpses into their quests for faith, self-discovery, and spiritual enlightenment. Set against the backdrop of historical periods like medieval England and Renaissance Italy, Kneale’s storytelling skillfully combines historical accuracy with fictional narratives. The book’s strength lies in its exploration of faith, self-discovery, and the transformative power of pilgrimage. Kneale’s meticulous research and attention to detail bring historical events and cultural practices to life, creating an immersive reading experience. “Pilgrims” offers a captivating plot while shedding light on diverse historical periods and the enduring quest for spiritual enlightenment.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (3)

Best Medieval Historical Fiction Books
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco by Dr Umm was licensed under CC BY 2.0

“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco is a gripping historical mystery set in a 14th-century Benedictine monastery. Set against the backdrop of religious and political turmoil during the Inquisition, the novel follows Brother William of Baskerville as he investigates a series of mysterious deaths. Eco expertly weaves actual historical figures, such as Pope John XXII, with fictional characters, providing a rich tapestry of medieval life. The book’s strength lies in its meticulous attention to historical detail, from the architecture to the monks’ way of life. It’s a unique blend of murder mystery, historical fiction, and philosophical exploration, making it a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating read.

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey 

“The Western Wind” by Samantha Harvey is a captivating historical fiction novel set in 15th-century rural England. The story follows the investigation led by village priest John Reve into the mysterious disappearance of Tom Newman, a local resident. Set against the backdrop of a changing religious landscape during Lent, the novel delves into themes of faith, sin, and redemption. Harvey’s evocative prose and meticulous attention to historical detail bring the medieval village of Oakham to life. With its unique reverse chronological narrative structure, “The Western Wind” keeps readers engaged as they unravel the truth behind Tom Newman’s disappearance. It is a thought-provoking exploration of morality and secrets in a vividly portrayed historical setting.

The Invention of Fire by Bruce Holsinger

The Invention of Fire” by Bruce Holsinger is a gripping historical mystery set in 14th-century London. Poet and spy John Gower and his apprentice, Simon Makepeace, investigate a series of murders marked by a mysterious symbol. The novel seamlessly blends actual historical figures, such as John of Gaunt and Geoffrey Chaucer, offering a captivating exploration of political intrigue and forensic science in medieval London. With meticulous attention to detail and a riveting plot, Holsinger creates an immersive reading experience that appeals to fans of historical fiction and crime mysteries alike.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

“Cloud Cuckoo Land” is an epic historical fiction novel that weaves multiple storylines across different time periods. Set in ancient Anatolia, present-day Idaho, and a future in space, the book explores the power of literature and imagination to connect people across generations. Through the stories of characters like Anna, Zeno, and Konstance, Doerr delves into themes of hope, resilience, and the enduring impact of storytelling. The novel immerses readers in the rich historical setting of ancient Anatolia and tackles contemporary issues like environmental degradation and migration. With exquisite prose and a unique exploration of the transcendence of literature, “Cloud Cuckoo Land” is a profound and captivating read.

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Lady of the English is a compelling historical fiction novel set in 12th-century England. The story revolves around the power struggles between Adeliza of Louvain, the Queen of England, and her stepdaughter, Empress Matilda, during the turbulent period known as the Anarchy. Chadwick expertly blends historical accuracy with captivating storytelling, immersing readers in the grandeur of medieval courts and the complexities of feudal society. The novel shines a light on the strength and resilience of its female protagonists, offering a balanced portrayal of their characters and relationships. With its rich historical setting and engaging plot, “Lady of the English” provides a captivating journey into a tumultuous era of political intrigue and personal sacrifices.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell 

The Last Kingdom thrusts readers into 9th-century England during the Viking Age. The protagonist, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon noble raised by Vikings, grapples with his dual identity amidst the battles between Saxons and invading Vikings led by Guthrum. Set against historical events like the Great Heathen Army’s invasion, Cornwell weaves a tale of political turmoil, cultural clashes, and the pursuit of power. The novel’s strength lies in its seamless blend of historical accuracy and captivating storytelling, exploring themes of identity and loyalty. With its gripping plot, vivid descriptions, and complex characters, “The Last Kingdom” offers an immersive and educational reading experience that breathes life into the Viking Age.


Experience a world of courage, excitement, and captivating narratives as you traverse through the Middle Ages. With an array of genres ranging from thrilling action to philosophical musings, these books cater to every reader’s taste.

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