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3 historical fiction novels you can't afford to miss

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The L.A. Book Examiner is all about Equal Opportunity and does not discriminate against anyone. Whether the reader is a fan or not, the L.A. Book Examiner makes its recommendations for all with a smile, and the nods of approval along with an amen, or two, are simply the cherry on top of a delicious banana split smothered in caramel and strawberry syrups (and let’s not forget the 10 pound glob of whip cream that halos above). However, the L.A. Book Examiner will not be opposed and neither will its feelings be hurt if the reader disagrees with any of its recommendations or has suggestions of his/her own. Remember that suggestions are always welcomed. After all, there is still a myriad of books that need to be read.

Having made the latter statement, the L.A. Book Examiner wishes to share (once again) a list of books (in no particular order) it recommends to the lover of literature. And like in every other instance, it has chosen a genre.

The following list is for those who delight themselves in the realm of Historical Fiction, as much as it is for those who delight themselves in other realms (horror, romance, fantasy, etc.) because the following books contain a little bit of each and much more. Therefore, come close, sit down, kick off your shoes and partake in our discussion about the one literature that is an oxymoron in nature, consisting of the truth of world history and the fabrication of brilliant minds brimming with imagination.

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Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz-In a time of grave danger for Christianity, Marcus Vinicius, a Roman patrician, is willing to abandon his Roman religious beliefs implanted since childhood in exchange for the new Christian ones, in order to overcome the affection of Ligia, a Christian woman. With the help of his witty uncle, Gaius Petronius, a member of Emperor Nero’s court, Marcus is determined. However, the time of Nero is dark and safety isn’t guaranteed to anyone; therefore, Petronius is set to play a dangerous game of politics with Nero. But in spite the darkness that embraces the era, and the dense curtain of smoke in the air, mingled with Nero’s rampaging lunacy and the agonizing screams of brutally persecuted Christians, teary-eyed and in between painful intakes of suffocating breaths, Marcus runs through the streets of a smoldering Rome in pursuit of Ligia.

Shogun by James Clavell-It is the 16th century and the wars are over but times are changing in The East. The western world has great interests in Japan, which it has infiltrated through sea. While gunpowder has entered the planet through small portholes embedded within the minds of great men of The West, Japan chooses to keep its military tactics simple and traditional in the way of the samurai and, in turn, rightfully sees the western world as a threat. John Blackthorne is an English pilot who gets shipwrecked off the coast of Japan. He and his crew are taken captive, accused of piracy, and become pawns in a game of chess played between two lords craving the title of Shogun—Toranaga and Ishido. While captive, Blackthorne proves his skills in the arts of sailing and shows loyalty to Lord Toranaga, which earns him respect in the eyes of his captors and gives him an important role in Toranaga’s struggle to Shogunate. Although it is a time of peace for Japan, the still sound of sharpening swords doesn't go unnoticed, the smell of restlessness lingers in the midst of the samurai and the talk of a soon-to-be Shogun lurks in the shadows.

Black Wind by F. Paul Wilson-The time dates back to 1926, before World War II, Frank Slater and Matsuo Okumo grow up as close friends in San Francisco, California. But because of his Japanese origins, Matsuo is discriminated against in America. After a life changing event, Frank and Matsuo’s friendship breaks and splits their paths until further notice. And World War II begins. Hiroki Okumo is Matsuo’s brother, who never left Japan. He abides by Japanese culture and is well versed in ancient Japanese mysticism. As the war swells, these 3 young players begin to choose their sides. Japan then wakes “the sleeping giant” at Pearl Harbor and the feud triggered by broken friendships, cultural prejudices, betrayal and blemished love rages. The war suddenly and viciously collides with the lives of Frank, Matsuo and Hiroki, and finally brings cold silence to a loud, heated and quarrelling planet.

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While the works written by authors like James A. Michener, Scott Oden (a favorite), Anne Rice (yes, we consider her a historical fiction author due to her extensive history lessons embedded within her books), Edward Rutherford and Bernard Cornwell, with his Arthurian Chronicles and such, were gravely considered, they were wisely tucked away for another day—one rainy day, that is. Instead, on this cloudless Californian day, abundant in sunlight, the L.A. Book Examiner (unintentionally) took the classic approach and chose 3 fascinating historical fiction classics (in no particular order) to recommend to those who appreciate a good, fictitious tale told by History, herself.
J. Marquez Jr.
May 2014

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