Tired of the Tudors?? Try some other novels about historical royal women.
While I enjoy all different kinds of fiction, historical fiction is my favourite genre. I love learning about different times and places while enjoying a good story.
The women of England's Tudor period seem to have been dominating the historical fiction genre for the last few years. Philippa Gregory's novels The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, about the wives of Henry VIII, have been very, very popular. The Other Boleyn Girl was even made into a movie. Even Margaret George has returned to this time period with her new novel, Elizabeth I. Of course, the television series The Tudors has played a large part in this resurgence of interest in this time period.
If you've watched television series and read some of the books, you may feel the need for a change from 16th century England. If that is the case, try one of these books about other historical royal women from different places and/or times who are not as well as known as Henry VIII's six wives.
Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani. Still the 16th century, but this book takes place in Iran. It is the story of Princess Pari, the daughter of the Shah. Smart and independent, she is very aware of her own skills and capabilities. She takes over running the court when her father dies as she waits for her brother to arrive to be crowned. Unfortunately he interprets this as a threat. The story is told by her closest advisor, Javaher, who became a eunuch so that he could serve the court and find out the truth about his father's death.
The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner is the story of Juana of Castile, who is known to history as Juana la Loca. Juana was an elder sister of Katherine of Aragon and daughter or Ferninand and Isabella of Spain. She was married to Philip, Archduke of Flanders, heir to the Holy Roman Empire. While her marriage began well, it all turned terribly wrong when she inherited the throne of Spain and ended up fighting with her husband for control of her country. This well-told and well-research novel gives some insight into this misunderstood (and unfortunately nicknamed) Queen. The Last Queen is also available in Large Print. Gortner's lastest book is The Queen's Vow: a novel of Isabella of Castile.
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min. Set in China in the dying days of the Empire, this is the story of Tzu Hsi, who was called Orchid as a girl. Starting out as a minor concubine in the Forbidden City, she takes matters into her own hands and seduces the Emperor. A love affair is begun and Orchid soon bears a son and is elevated to Empress. However, all she has worked for is at risk when the Emperor dies. It is also available in Large Print, Audiobook, and eAudiobook. Orchid's story continues in Last Empress, which is also available in eAudiobook and Talking Book (for Print Disabled patrons only).
The Scarlet Contessa : A Novel of the Italian Renaissance by Jeanne Kalogridis is the story of Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario. Caterina was an impressive woman. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the “triumph cards,” the predecessor of modern-day tarot cards.
The Forever Queen : Sometimes, A Desperate Kingdom is in Need of One Great Woman by Helen Hollick. This has the most intriguing subtitle I've seen in a while. While this book takes us back to England, it is to pre-Conquest Saxon England. It is the story of Emma of Normandy, the Queen of King Aethelred of England, who must take control of the kingdom when it threatened by Danish Viking invaders.
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran is the story of Nefertari of Egypt, Consort to Ramses II. A devastating palace fire has killed the royal family, except for Nefertari. With her deceased family branded as heretical, Nefertari is left to run wild in the palace. Her life changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt and catches the eye of the Crown Prince. They fall in love and wish to marry, but all of Egypt opposes this union between the new dynasty and the old, heretical one. Moran has several books on Egyptian royal women, including Nefertiti and Cleopatra's Daughter (also available in eBook).