New Book Review by Ian Shone – Augustus: Son of Rome by Richard Foreman

Ian Shone has just reviewed another historical fiction novel for Alt Hist. Check out his review of Augustus: Son of Rome by Richard Foreman in our Reviews section.

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Alt Hist Issue 4 Now Published!

Alt Hist Issue 4 CoverIt gives me great pleasure to announce that Issue 4 of Alt Hist: The Magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History has now been published. It is available in both print and eBook formats as follows:

Print – Amazon US

Print Amazon UK

eBook Amazon US

eBook Amazon UK

Issue 4 will also be available from other flavours of Amazon as well – Italy, Spain, France etc – so please check your local sites. It will also be available for other e-readers in the future.

Alt Hist Issue 4: The Magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History contains seven top-quality stories from a variety of genres: horror, alternate history and fantasy, as well as straight historical fiction, including four stories set during World War II. If you’re looking for something other than World War II then we also have two stories from the Nineteenth Century and one from the Middle Ages.

The seven stories featured in Alt Hist Issue 4 are:

  • ‘Restless’ by Dylan Fox set in the 1860s onboard a fleet of British ironclad warships steaming towards China.
  • ‘Kleine Menschen’ by Eric Jackson is a historical fantasy story set in World War II Germany.
  • ‘Feast of Faith’ by Shane Rhinewald explores the struggles of common soldiers during the First Crusade who don’t have enough to eat.
  • ‘Three Months of Summer’ by Svetlana Kortchik is a love story that happens during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1942.
  • ‘The Stork’ by George Piper is a backwoods horror that will scare and surprise you.
  • ‘Battalion 202: A Blinded Falcon’ and ‘Battalion 202: Into the Darkness’ by Jonathan Doering are two alternate history stories about the resistance to a German invasion of Britain.

Donations to Alt Hist

As you may know Alt Hist is currently a small publication. We publish two issues a year and are able to pay authors only a token fee of $10 for their stories. However, we would like to pay authors more – and also maybe pay our volunteers an honorarium as well for helping out. To this end you can now donate if you so wish to Alt Hist. Please use the link below or in the sidebar. Alternatively, you can contribute just by buying an issue of Alt Hist!

If/as donations come in, we will give a report of what the fund is and how this might be split out to pay authors in the future.

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Recent Historical Fiction and Alternate History News

Here’s a selection of news and features that I’ve come across recently in the world of Historical Fiction and Alternate History. Enjoy!

Polite Englishman

From Salon: The myth of the polite Englishman. I thought this book sounded like a great resource for anyone writing historical fiction set in the Eighteenth century. Interestingly enough I don’t see many stories coming into Alt Hist set in that era – not even American War of Independence stuff very often, which is disappointing. Such a rude century should definitely be better represented!

From the Guardian: Kate Williams joins queens of historical fiction.  I didn’t agree with what she had to say at the end of the article about female documentary presenters being chosen for their looks – the BBC does the same with its male presenters too!

Guardian again: Alternate history lessons for children’s fiction – new wave of alternate histories searching questions about technology. Interesting that alternate history is being more accepted in schools, but how do we make sure kids know the real version as well?

From Steven Spielberg – Steven Spielberg’s European History. Europeans are much more interested in history says Steven. Quite a debatable statement I think – certainly most of Alt Hist’s story submissions come from the US.e make sure kids know the real version as well?

From The Daily Beast: The Graphic Novel Renaissance – and historical graphic novels are leading the way! Hurrah!

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“Hooray for Historical Fiction” says the Huffington Post!

Dave Astor at the Huffington Post wrote a very nice piece the other day about why historical fiction is just great – mostly because of its ability to educate. He specifically cites Stephen King’s new novel 11/22/63, and also mentions other books such as Walter Scott’s.

Although it’s great to hear historical fiction praised in such a way – and one just wishes that other genres such as Science Fiction and Fantasy would get such plaudits too on a more regular basis, but I think that Dave’s reasons for liking historical fiction also raise a number of questions.

  1. What’s the chances of people actually getting misinformation from works for fiction? For instance Stephen King’s book involves an alternate history scenario where someone travels back in time to prevent JFK’s death. I think in this case most people would know the real history and it would be obvious that the author is changing things, but in cases where history is less well understood the author has a real responsibility.
  2. How comprehensively should an author actually tell the reader (perhaps in footnotes or an introduction) about how their work diverges from recorded history?
  3. Should editors and publishers be more careful in what work they accept authors, and should they actually research the historical background themselves? For Alt Hist, I usually do check facts in the stories that I publish in the magazine for instance, and this actually takes up a large part of the copy-editing process.
  4. Are historical fiction authors the new history teachers?
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New Historical Fiction Book: Lion of the Sun: Book Three of Warrior of Rome by Harry Sidebottom

Lion of the Sun: Book Three of Warrior of Rome by Harry Sidebottom

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover (October 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203514

Available from

Available from

Review at Fantasy Book Review

Mesopotamia, AD 260 Betrayed by his most trusted adviser, the Roman Emperor Valerian has been captured by the Sassanid barbarians. The shame of the vanquished beats down mercilessly like the white sun, as the frail old emperor prostrates himself before Shapur, King of Kings. Ballista looks on helplessly, but vows under his breath to avenge those who have brought the empire to the brink of destruction with their treachery. One day, maybe not soon, but one day, I will kill you …But first he must decide what price he will pay for his own freedom. Only the fearless and only those whom the gods will spare from hell can now save the empire from a catastrophic ending. Ballista, the Warrior of Rome, faces his greatest challenge yet.


New Historical Fiction Book: The Sisters: A Novel by Nancy Jensen

The Sisters: A Novel by Nancy Jensen

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312542704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312542702

Available from

Available from

Information from Amazon:


“You’ll be drawn into the arms of The Sisters as if these women were your own family. You’ll want to hold them, warn them, betray their secrets. But this is a novel, one that is fresh and vibrant and complex. You cannot live the sisters’ lives, but only share in their joy and heartbreak and ultimate triumph. A remarkably powerful book.”
—Sandra Dallas, author of Prayers for Sale

“Nancy Jensen has the natural story-teller’s ability to command attention, but with sophisticated psychological understanding and beautifully crafted writing. The Sisters is a needed novel that will become a very popular classic.”
—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife

“A beautiful and touching novel about the events and choices that shape not only our lives but the lives of generations to come. Nancy Jensen takes us on an epic yet intimate journey through eighty years, ultimately revealing the flawed but lovely landscape that makes up a family. Her characters will stay with us long after the book’s final pages.”
—Brunonia Barry, author of The Lace Reader

Product Description

In the tradition of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, a dazzling debut novel about the family bonds that remain even when they seemirretrievably torn apart

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fischer and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong. A choice made in desperate haste sets off a chain of misunderstandings that will divide the sisters and reverberate through three generations of women.

What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful, Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities that are shaped by unspeakable secrets. As the sisters have daughters and granddaughters of their own, they discover that both love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.

Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s powerful debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.

New Historical Fiction Book: A Christmas Homecoming: A Novel by Anne Perry

A Christmas Homecoming: A Novel by Anne Perry

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345524632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345524638

Available from

Available from

Information from Amazon:

Among the brilliant array of Anne Perry’s New York Times bestselling novels, her Christmas stories occupy perhaps the warmest spot in the hearts of readers. Each one is a masterpiece of suspense; each is alight with the true holiday spirit.

In A Christmas Homecoming, a familiar face from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels—Charlotte’s mother, Caroline—travels with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, and his theatrical troupe to Whitby, the Yorkshire fishing village where Dracula the vampire first touched English soil in the sensational novel named after him. Joshua has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of Dracula by the daughter of Whitby millionaire Charles Netheridge during the Christmas holiday, but after the disastrous first read-through of her amateurish script, only the fact that the company is depending on Netheridge’s financial backing for their spring tour keeps them at work.

As tempers flare and wind and snow swirl around Netheridge’s lonely hilltop mansion, a black-cloaked stranger emerges from the storm—an eerily opportune arrival, for this enigmatic figure, one Anton Ballin, turns out to be a theatrical genius. At the same time, a brooding evil makes itself felt. Instead of the theatrical triumph that Netheridge desired for his daughter, there is murder—shocking and terrifying.

Anne Perry’s ninth Christmas novel keeps us poised on a razor’s edge of suspense, hypnotized by a story in which the heartwarming power of goodness is challenged by the seductive power of inner darkness. In the end, A Christmas Homecoming lifts the spirit and rejoices the heart.

Praise for the Christmas novels of Anne Perry
A Christmas Odyssey“[Perry] writes with detail that invades the senses.”—Lincoln Journal Star

A Christmas Promise

“Poignant . . . should be on the Christmas stocking list of anyone who likes a sniffle of nostalgia.”—The Washington Times

A Christmas Grace

“[A] heartwarming, if crime-tinged, complement to the holiday season.”—Booklist

A Christmas Beginning

“Intriguing . . . Perry’s use of period detail is, as always, strong and evocative.”—The Seattle Times

A Christmas Secret

“A delightful little book . . . Perry’s gift is that she can evoke a sense of place and time while still producing the thrills and chills expected of a modern-day mystery writer.”—The Orlando Sentinel

Book Reviews of The Lion Wakes by Robert Low

While blogging about the latest books being published in the field of historical fiction I have noticed that very few titles have reviews available pre-publication – I assume this is an embargo to make sure punters don’t get disappointed when they can’t buy the book straight away. So I thought for some selected titles I would also post some excerpts of reviews to give an overview of a book’s reception.

First up The Lion Wakes by Robert Low. gives a generally positive review, noting the gripping action, but also notes that sometimes the narrative is hard to follow:

All in all he has done something remarkable, and I look forward to the sequels. He has not set out to demolish the myth, but rather, by questioning simple interpretations of it, to deepen and enrich it; and he has brought this off in fine style. As a piece of bravura historical painting The Lion Wakes is remarkable. is again positive and mentions the Scottish voice of the author:

Low throws himself boldly and with brio into the dark and dangerous tangle of the First War of Scottish Independence. Written in a distinctively Scottish voice, rich in dialect and striking imagery, The Lion Wakes boasts a wealth of vividly drawn characters including a puissant, rancorous Edward I (“a great black storm”), and the best collection of Scottish rogues, retainers and hard fighting men since George MacDonald Fraser’sThe Candlemass Road. (2011; 439 pages, including a map of 13th-century Britain, Author’s Note, List of Characters and Glossary).

On the forums there are some good comments on the book at Historical Fiction Online.

So all in all very positive for this title!

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