Truth is often times stranger than fiction, so it should come as no surprise that many (if not most) fiction authors use historical events as the basis for their fictional works. Castles, Customs, and Kings is a compilation of concise essays written by historical fiction authors, and it does a great job of revealing the real life events that served as inspiration for the various authors and novels represented therein.
A product of the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog, Castles, Customs, and Kings contains roughly 200 essays that cover a diverse array of topics from British history. As the title reveals, frequent topics include historic places, historic personages, and (my personal favorite) historic customs. The last category is possibly the most heavily frequented, because a historical fiction author must strive to create a realistic setting for their story. As a reader of history–both non-fiction and fiction–I appreciated the essays that examined the customs of a certain time period, as they were quite revealing as to issues and facts that are not always discussed in an academic recitation of history.
The essays cover and are divided into 9 sections:
1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 B.C.–A.D. 1000)
2. Late Medieval Period (1001–1485)
3. Tudor Period (1485–1603)
4. Stuart Period (1603–1714)
5. Early Georgian Period (1715–1800)
6. Late Georgian and Regency Era (1800–1837)
7. Victorian Era (1837–1901)
8. Twentieth Century
9. Historical Tidbits Across the Ages
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who appreciates history and fiction set in Britain. There is something relevant to each major period of British history, and the essays are well written and concise, making for easy reading that can be put down and picked back up at leisure. Another thing I appreciated about the book is that each author uses their essay as a means to explain and document their inspiration for a particular setting, character, or event in one of their historical fiction novels. Thus, Castles, Customs, and Kings is also a great way to discover historical fiction authors that you may not have otherwise run across!
Castles, Customs, and Kings is available on Amazon Kindle, in paperback, and in hardback and is published by Madison Street Publishing.