Historical Fiction

R.I.P. William Safire: Lord of the Language Arts, 1929-2009

Mr. Safire had no college degree, yet he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Already in his forties when he joined the NYT staff, Safire had previously worked as a U.S. Army correspondant, as a publicist, and as a radio & television producer. He also wrote speeches for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and was outraged to discover that Nixon's administration had been secretly taping his phone conversations.

Dragon Flame and Viking Steel

Sword Song by Rosemary Sutcliff

"Just go! A man with a sword need never lack the means of life--or death. If after five years you still live and you shall be free to return and take your place in the settlement again, it may be that I shall be able to stand the sight of you."
With these harsh words from his chief, Bjarni Sigurdson, a young Viking swordsman, is banished from his home.

Braveheart and the Forestwife

The King's Swift Rider: A Novel on Robert the Bruce by Mollie Hunter

From where he stood on the hill above the valley, Martin Crawford saw that the leader of the war band was in serious trouble. When a hunting horn sounded from behind, the leader ordered his men to scatter before the onslaught of English soldiers. They were on him in moments, but their numbers broke as they chased the leader's scattered men. In all his sixteen years, Martin had never seen a man fight as this one did, swinging his great sword beside his companions until the last living enemy fled in fear.

Islands of Sorcerers and Unlikely Pilgrims

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

No one really liked Duny. The boy was wild, proud, and full of temper-- well-suited to the company of the goats he herded. Then came the day when he overheard his aunt chanting a spell to call her goat down from the roof of her house. He remembered the rhyme and later spoke it to his own herd:

"Noth hierth malk man hiolk han merth han!"

Hidden Turnings & His Majesty's Elephant

His Majesty's Elephant by Judith Tarr

The hue and cry outside the royal stables of the Emperor Charlemagne sounded like a battle raging to Rowan. The grooms were trying to push a gigantic elephant into one of the Emperor's old war tents, and Abul Abbas, for so the elephant was called, was having none of it.

Mutant Mythmakers and a Princess Bride

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

In the year 2194, there are three Zimbabwe's. There is the Zimbabwe of the rich such as the luxurious compound of General Amadeus Matsika, the country's Chief of Security. His children, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda want for nothing. The robots take care of all their needs, and the Mellower, the house poet, makes everyone feel so much better when he sings their Praises.

In another part of the city dwells the woman who is called the She-Elephant. She has her own compound, her own kingdom, in the abandoned waste dump. She has her servants, too. Fist and Knife are good for running errands-- a little thieving here, a little kidnapping there... When they find Matsika's children by themselves in downtown Harare, the opportunity for profit is just too good to let go.

Mildred Taylor Shares Family Stories

Mildred Taylor writes from the experiences of her own life and the tales told by her loving relatives. Her stories have won many awards including the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. Mildred was born in Mississippi on September 14, 1943. The hatred and prejudice all around made her family decide to move north when she was just a few weeks old. In the North, there was less prejudice and better opportunities for the Taylor family.

Step into the Past with Patricia Beatty

Patricia Beatty made history fascinating with her tales of young men and women caught up in America's beginnings. She was a good researcher who felt out the roots of her stories, adding details to let the reader experience what life was like long ago. She researched in libraries but also drew on her own knowledge when creating her books.

Scott O'Dell: A Natural Born Writer (1898 - 1989)

Odell Scott (Scott O'Dell) grew up in a California that was still wild and natural. No freeways, no asphalt, no hundred-story buildings. People got around by walking, taking a trolley or train, or riding horseback. His family lived in a house on stilts that was so much a part of the landscape that the waves at high tide splashed against its supports. He loved the outdoors and decided to become a writer as a youngster after he learned that he was related to the classic British historical novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott.