Some Summer reading suggestions

By Owain Williams

Summer is well underway (although here in Britain it is currently wet and windy). Regardless of whether you’re sunbathing on a beach or sheltering from summer storms, here are some reading suggestions for you to while away the long evenings.

The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault (1956)

Mary Renault is perhaps best known for her trilogy on Alexander the Great or her Theseus duology, but her first book set in ancient Greece, The Last of the Wine, is set during the Peloponnesian War. The book follows Alexias, a student of Socrates, and his relationship with Lysis, the young man who features in Plato’s eponymous dialogue. The Last of the Wine is a tale of love, honour, and politics, set amidst the greatest conflict the Greeks had ever known.

God of War by Christian Cameron (2012)


Many works of fiction that seek to explore the reign of Alexander the Great, the conquering king whose domain stretched from ancient Macedon to India, usually do so over the course of a series of books, a trilogy or longer. Christian Cameron, however, took it upon himself to tell the tale of Alexander, from the perspective of Ptolemy, in 800 pages (it is no surprise he says that it was the hardest book he had to write). This is a book you can let yourself get swept up in, from the politicking and bickering to the epic battles.



Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin (2008)


Ursula K. Le Guin was an incredibly prolific and talented author, writing dozens of books and short stories throughout her career. Lavinia was her last. Unsurprisingly, Lavinia, written in the first-person perspective, tells the story of Lavinia, the Latin princess who marries the Trojan prince Aeneas after he arrives in Italy, having fled from Troy. Curiously, Le Guin’s Lavinia is aware of her place in Virgil’s narrative, even seeing the shade of Virgil and conversing with him.

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough (1990)


The First Man in Rome is the first of the seven-book Masters of Rome series, which chronicles the final years of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire. The book follows a number of characters, from the leading men of Rome to a hired thug, during the years 110–100 BC, as Rome tried to survive Germanic invasions, quarrelsome neighbours, and a tumultuous political atmosphere in the city itself. McCullough really brings to life the complexities of the Roman world in this period.



Do you have any recommendations? Let us know!


McCullough was a great researcher and terrible writer – the books are unreadable.
Don’t neglect the historical novels of Alfred Duggan.

Robin Gallagher

I can recommend Gillian Bradshaw.
She’s written a number of very good books including The Beacon at Alexandria,
The Bearkeeper’s Daughter, Imperial Purple, and the Sand-reckoner.
One of the things I enjoyed were the details of everyday life in ancient times, much lass convenient than our present century.

Robert Oldenburg

@WIM VDB His books are an entertaining read! His ‘Tyrant’ series is my favourite of his.

@VOL WILLIAMS McCullough is certainly one of the best historical fiction writers, especially concerning ancient historical fiction. She really takes the time to give you the details.

Owain Williams

God of War from Ch. Cameron is on my “to read” pile. That is a huge pile currently, but I think I will read it later this year. His six books on the Successors of Alexander were a good read!

Wim VdB

The First Man in Rome series is by far the best historical fiction I have ever read. Matculously researched, McCullough actually pulls the reader into the politcs, rivalries and events of the times.

Vol Williams

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