Medieval Fiction Backlist
by Dina Sleiman
Today for our regularly scheduled backlist fiction promo, I’m going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart. As most of you know, just this month I released my own debut novel, which was set in the medieval period. If you missed Inkwell's "Week Of Dina" click here to check it out. While writing Dance of the Dandelion, I read anything medieval I could get my hands on, so this is the perfect topic for me. And because I’m on one of my slightly psychotic writing sprees (come back Wednesday for more on that), I’m going to keep this fairly quick and casual. Especially since there’s only a handful of Christian medieval novels out there, and many of them are by friends of mine. You see there are "trends" in fiction, and medievals are not trendy in the inspirational universe. But that doesn't mean they aren't wonderful books.
Of course medieval novels can fall into a variety of genres, come from a number of countries, and span from about 800 A.D. to about 1400 A.D. Some are nearly in the dark ages and others on the brink of the Renaissance. You may think you don’t like medieval, but guess again. With so many variations, you’re bound to find a few you that please you. For the purpose of this article I haven’t included anything with fantasy elements such as monsters, elves, or dragons. If you like that stuff, there’s plenty out there, but I’ll have to save it for another post.
Let me start by saying that I just discovered our own DeAnna Julie Dodson. I’ve only read the first book of her series so far, but it was enough to convince me that she is now my official favorite medieval author. DeAnna’s series takes place in a fantasy kingdom, but otherwise reads like a romantic historical novel. She has all the spiritual and emotional depth I love in a book, along with beautiful writing, great characters, romance, and adventure. These books have recently been rereleased as ebooks and are available for only $2.99 each. (Crossway Books, 1997)
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this book. It was the first medieval novel I found after writing mine. And I do love it and recommend it. But I reached a point where I thought, “If one more awful thing happens to this hero, I’m putting the book down.” LOL. Don’t make the mistake I almost did. This novel is well worth reading, a romantic historical full of adventure and depth. Since I was deeply immersed in medieval research when I read it, I did notice a few historical issues I questioned, but they didn’t detract from the novel. This story begins in medieval England but travels to France and the Middle East at the time of the crusades as well, so plenty of excitement and fodder for spiritual growth there. (Bethany House, 2006)
If you like fairytales, you’ll love this YA romance novel. Pretty much all the compliments I gave to the previous two, romantic, spiritual, action-packed, apply to this one as well. If I remember correctly, it takes place in the Bavarian region. And I won’t mention which fairytale pattern it follows, because that would give the ending away. Melanie also has a new book in the same genre releasing later this month. (Zondervan, 2010)
Like time travel and a focus on the historical elements? Then this is the medieval for you. In this book you travel with a modern American, who happens to speak Middle English, to medieval Cornwall. The story still has ample action and romance, but digs deeper into the history and lifestyle of the period. Season in the Mist is the perfect novel if you would like to better acquaint yourself with the medieval era. (Sheaf House, 2010)
This one is set in Scotland. It’s a historical romance with lots of highland style adventure. It has some great characters, a kidnapping, and an arranged marriage. And let’s fact it, who can resist a good arranged marriage story. Jennifer’s second book in this series is now available as well. (Abingdon Press, 2010)
In the Arms of the Immortals by Ginger Garrett
Now this one is absolutely nothing like any of the others I mentioned so far in this list. If you enjoy a mix of the beautiful, the bizarre, and the horrible, then you’ll absolutely love this literary supernatural thriller. Location: Italy. Issue: the plague. Yes, this book is full of sickness and death, yet surprisingly beautiful in the language as well as the theme. I can’t say this book will be for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ginger's writing talent left me in awe. (David C. Cook, 2009)
Child of the Mist ~ Wings of Morning ~A Fire Within
I only read the first of this series, but my daughter couldn’t rest until she finished all three. This romantic suspense series is set in Scotland, and it’s plenty of fun. I debated on whether or not to include these book since they are set in the 1500s. But since the Renaissance reached Scotland late, you still get a solid medieval feel. (Revell, 2005)
As of a few months ago, that list covered all the backlist medievals I personally was aware of. I had heard rumor of some very old Angela Hunt books and that the famous Stephen Lawhead had written a few, but didn't know much about them. I recently found a great list with more novels in this period when my book and DeAnna’s were featured in family fiction magazine’s article called “10 Essential Voices in Medieval Fiction.” So here they are. If you’ve read them, please fill us in on the details in the comment section.
Pendragon Cycle ~ The Celtic Crusades ~ Hood ~ Scarlet ~ Tuck by Stephen Lawhead
Waterfall ~ Cascade ~ Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren
Afton of Margate Castle ~ The Troubadors Quest ~Ingram of the Irish by Angela Hunt
Circle of Honor ~ The Promise of Peace by Carol Umberger
Legend of the Emerald Rose by Linda Wichman
Have you read any of these medieval novels? Can you fill in more details on the ones I haven’t read? Do you know of any inspirational medievals I missed? Which of these sounds most appealing to you?
Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/