3 Ancient History Books to Chase Away the January Lockdown Blues

The dreaded January Blues are here - grey skies, cold weather, and our bank accounts depleted thanks to the holidays. To add to the usual gloom of the month, as the New Year began, many of us found ourselves trapped in some form of lockdown. Not exactly a great start to 2021. In light of all of this, it would be good to have a much-needed escape from the barrage of bad news and doom-scrolling. I personally find escape and solace in the pages of a good fiction book, so I’ve compiled a short list of some recent ancient history releases that have caught my eye, and that might help you escape the January doldrums.

Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
ISBN: 9781786541529

There is a lot of buzz around this book, which was just released on January 7th. Bracken, who is best known for her YA sci-fi Darkest Minds series, has stepped back in time for the debut of Lore, a book that meshes ancient Greek mythology with modern urban fantasy, with a Hunger Games ring to it. Lore escapes her ancient godly bloodlines because she wants to avoid participating in a cruel game called Agon that Zeus thrusts upon the gods every seven years. In the game, the gods are turned into mortals for one week and then hunted down by mortals who want to become gods, who will take the place of those they kill. When Lore’s family is killed by a god named Wrath, she bides her time to take revenge at the next Agon games with a little help from Athena. If you’re a fan of YA, and looking for an action-packed escape but want it with an ancient twist, this might just do the trick.

The Gates of Athens: Book One in the Athenian series

Author: Conn Iggulden
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
ISBN: 9781472258441

Many of you will be well acquainted with Conn Iggulden's work. This latest book is the beginning of a new series set in Athens in the fifth century BC. While set against the backdrop of the struggle between Athens and Sparta, this book isn't just a typical hack and slash novel - although there is plenty of that with his detail of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Iggulden also weaves in everything from politics to plague, to intrigues and power-plays, told primarily from the perspective of the politician Xanthippus and the general Themistocles. Iggulden is known for his well-researched and painstakingly detailed novels. Anyone interested in Ancient Greece or ancient warfare hankering for a fiction novel set there would not be disappointed in adding this to their shelves.

The Grove of the Caesars - A Flavia Albia Novel

Author: Lindsey Davis
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781529374285

Don't go to the Grove . . .(cue ominous music)

Last but certainly not least, for all you crime fans out there, I have Lindsey Davis' spine-tingling The Grove of the Caesars rounding off my recommendations for this month. In this ancient Roman thriller, women are disappearing from the grove that Julius Caesar left to the people of Rome and nothing is being done to bring justice to the women and their grieving families. Flavia Albia puts herself in grave danger as she sets off to solve the mystery of who is snatching and murdering women in the grove. This book will appeal to those of you looking for an edge of your seat, page-turning ancient 'whodunnit'.

Check back here in February for my Valentine's Day reading recommendations on ancient love!

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