17th century -- fiction

Birds of Prey

By Wilbur Smith

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The year is 1667; Sir Francis Courteney and his son Hal are on patrol in their fighting caravel off the Agulhas Cape of South Africa. They are lying in wait for one of the treasure-laden galleons of the Dutch East India Company returning from the Orient. So begins a quest for adventure and the spoils of war that sweeps them from the settlement of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa to the Great Horn of Ethiopia far to the north--at a time when international maritime law permitted acts of piracy, rape, and murder otherwise punishable by death.

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Artemisia

By Alexandra Lapierre

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"Born to the artist Orazio Gentileschi at the beginning of the 1600s, when artists were the celebrities of their day, Artemisia was apprenticed to her father at an early age. She showed such remarkable talent that he came to view her as the most precious thing he owned. But at the age of seventeen Artemisia was raped by her father's best friend and partner, Agostini Tassi. Soon the Gentileschi name was being dragged through scandal, for Artemisia refused, even when tortured, to deny that she had been raped. Indeed, she went farther: she dared to plead her case in court. For eight months all of Rome was riveted by the trial. Artemisia won the case, but in return she was ostracized from Rome and from her father.

"This is a story of the love-hate relationship between master and pupil, father and daughter, at a time when daughters belonged to their fathers and had no legal rights. Artemisia's talent was such that she overturned the prejudices of her time, winning the admiration of wealthy patrons, kings, and queens. Lapierre brings Artemisia Gentileschi to vivid life as she tells of the emotional struggle of this remarkable, fascinating woman."

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Shinju

By Laura Joh Rowland

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"When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.

"Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren't just a tragedy -- they were murder. Risking his family's good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society -- determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano..."

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Bone House: A Novel

By Betsy Tobin

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"It is the tale of two women. One is Dora -- large, voluptuous, and charismatic -- a prostitute to whom men are drawn for pleasure, women for friendship. Her strange death in an icy ravine affects everyone in the tiny village: her enormous, slow-minded son; an embittered midwife; the hunchbacked lord of the manor; his decaying mother; and an itin- erant portrait painter, whose arrival in the village unearths secrets and passions beyond anyone's expectations.

The other -- young, slight, and solitary -- is a dutiful chambermaid to the mistress of the manor until Dora's accident begins to distract her from her daily tasks. Her quest to uncover the truth about the prostitute's mysterious life and sudden death leads her to a terrible discovery, and the beginnings of a future."

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The Privateer

By Josephine Tey

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"The slave-pirate who plundered an empire! Spain's rule over the Americas was unchallenged- until Henry Morgan, privateer, set sail from Jamaica with his lusty, loyal crew... This is the incredible, true story of the bormer bonsman who bought his freedom with powder and steel, sacking the richest ports of the West Indies for women, for gold, for glory- for England. Only the famous mystery writer Josephine Tey could unravel the secrets of the most fabulous adventurer in history- a man so powerful that the country he served was forced to bring him to trial for his deeds!"
A classic historical novel.
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Robinson Crusoe

By Daniel Defoe

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The subtitle tells it all: the life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner: who lived eight and twenty years all alone in an uninhabited island on the coast of America, near the mouth of the great river of Orinoco; having been cast on shore by shipwreck, wherein all the men perished but himself. With an account how he was at last strangely delivered by pirates.  Based on a true story.

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Cup of Gold: A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional References to History

By John Steinbeck

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Steinbeck's first novel is a high seas adventure based on the life of that rum privateer, Captain Henry Morgan.

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The Coffee Trader: A Novel

By David Liss

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Who knew coffee was such a cutthroat business? Good reading for a rainy afternoon, cuppa joe in hand:

"Amsterdam, 1659: On the world’s first commodities exchange, fortunes are won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a sharp-witted trader in the city’s close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this only too well. Once among the city’s most envied merchants, Miguel has suddenly lost everything. Now, impoverished and humiliated, living in his younger brother’s canal-flooded basement, Miguel must find a way to restore his wealth and reputation. Miguel enters into a partnership with a seductive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at success—a daring plot to corner the market of an astonishing new commodity called 'coffee.' To succeed, Miguel must risk everything he values and face a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him ruined. Miguel will learn that among Amsterdam’s ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere, and even friends hide secret agendas."

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Virgin Earth

By Philippa Gregory

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As England descends into civil war, John Tradescant the Younger, gardener to King Charles I, finds his loyalties in question, his status an ever-growing danger to his family. Fearing royal defeat and determined to avoid serving the rebels, John escapes to the royalist colony of Virginia, a land bursting with fertility that stirs his passion for botany. Only the native American peoples understand the forest, and John is drawn to their way of life just as they come into fatal conflict with the colonial settlers. Torn between his loyalty to his country and family and his love for a Powhatan girl who embodies the freedom he seeks, John has to find himself before he is prepared to choose his direction in the virgin land.

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The Samurai

By Shusaku Endo

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This blending of fact and fiction from a gifted author tells the story of some of the first Japanese to set foot on European soil in the 1600s. Rokuemon Hasekura, a low-ranking warrior, is chosen as one of Japan's envoys to the Viceroy of Mexico and Pope Paul V.

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