Good Medieval fiction?

Im a fan of the Middle Ages and would like to read a good novel set there. any sugestions?

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, a murder mystery set in a 14th Century Italian monastery, is simply outstanding.

I also enjoyed both Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett which deal with a fictitious English Cathederal and its surrounding town in the 12th (Pillars) and 14th (World) Centuries.

Both London and Sarum by Edward Rutherford, were also quite good, but both start before and continue after the Middle Ages.

Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series (time of Alfred the Great) and Grail Quest series (Hundred Years War) are very good, as is Azincourt (Battle of Azincourt of course).

Two lists of medieval fiction

Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books EVER-I liked World Without End very much as well, but that first one has a special place in my heart.

The Edward Rutherford books are excellent as well. I’m not as big a fan of Name of the Rose, but I think that speaks more to my being an Anglophile.

I like the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. they are set against the background of the war of succession between Stephen and the Empress Maud (or Matilda). The Brother Cadfael of the title had been a soldier and gone on a crusade, and later in life become a monk in Shrewsbury, where he solves crimes.

Elizabeth Chadwick’s books are good, I’ve always enjoyed her writing.

I LOVE those!

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott :knight1:

I read it in high school and couldn’t put it down.

According to Wikipedia, this novel is credited with starting up interest in the medievalism when it was published (1820s). Of course, Wikipedia isn’t exactly perfect.

But I really loved Ivanhoe.

Yes, these are all good recommendations. I haven’t read the book by Rutherford though.

If you’re up for some Eastern Medieval literature, I recommend Outlaws of the Marsh, set in 12th century China.

A little different take: Michael Crichton’s “Timeline”. It involves time travel back to 1357 France. Being a Michael Crichton novel, it is very well researched to accurately depict the time period.

I have only just started this and so can’t give an opinion, but it has been recommended to me by other Catholic friends, and I’m very excited to have finally gotten my hands on it. The author was a convert to Catholicism.

Kristin Lavransdatter

I also enjoyed The Quiet Light, about St. Thomas Aquinas. (I also liked The Citadel of God, but that is set earlier than what you want, I think). Louis de Wohl has written a lot of books so have a look through what he has written.

I am surprised that people have recommended World without End by Ken Follett. :eek: That is a very anti-Catholic book. Pillars of the Earth I loved, but I was so disappointed with World without End. If I remember correctly, there were about a dozen years between the writing of the two books, and the author definitely had become cynical and nasty about the Church in the intervening years, IMO.

The Dark Angel by Mika Waltari. Waltari is best known for The Egyptian, but Angel is awesome as well. Set during the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, symbolically considered the end of the Middle Ages. Oldie but goodie.

Mostly in the form of a diary of one of the Byzantines inside the city awaiting the storming of the city by the Ottomans.

Very well worth reading.

There was too much cheesey sex scenes in “Pillars” as well- real weakness of the book IMO. I just skipped that.

I though Name of the Rose was a better written and research book,. It is a much deeper work I believe.

You might try Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy.

Be advised that that large sections of Name of the Rose are in latin with no translation.

I have found both Alfred Duggan and Rosemary Sutcliffe to be excellent authors of medieval fiction.


You might enjoy the geographical range and adventure of “The Walking Drum” by Louis L’Amour. (12th century)

Actually, come to think of it, have you considered reading medieval fiction from the medieval period, such as Le Morte d’Arthur? Just an idea.


Sir Gwain and the Green Knight
Canturbury Tales

  • And Beowolf for the early period- The Seamus Heaney version is my favorite.
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