Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Learning history via YA fiction —

I have long believed that the best way to learn about history is via historical fiction. Lots of it is meticulously researched, and nearly all of it will do something that no textbook can — it will give you the flavor of life in that period and make you care about the people who lived then.

This infographic, which I found via tor.com, is one heck of a resource for anybody who loves historical fiction and historical fantasy! I love how it sets titles into place between real events, so that we can get a clear picture of “when we are” in each book.

Like, here’s the birth of Aristotle, and here is the destruction of Pompeii, and SPHINX’S PRINCESS by Esther Friesner is right in between the two events.

The timeline goes from the Bronze Age right up to the 1990s. Very impressive! Click through and then click on the image to blow it up to a beautiful scrollable graphic.

I must admit that I have read hardly any of the books that are listed here. Oh, there’s CODE NAME VERITY! That one I’ve read.

Things that would make this infographic even better:

Include adult fiction! Of course there are an infinite number of Regency romances, but beyond that, how about Barbara Hambly’s A FREE MAN OF COLOR? That series would belong in the 1830s slot, and her Ysidro novels would cover the early 1900s. Of course her “Hamilton” mysteries would also fit in this timeline very well, set right before the Revolutionary War.

Hambly is, as you can see, the one author who springs to me as best bringing historical eras to life. What’s your favorite YA or adult title that you’d most like to see on this timeline?

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3 Comments Learning history via YA fiction —

  1. Cheryl L

    I was introduced to fantasy and science fiction in my late teens. Prior to that, I was an avid reader of children’s historical novels (there was no such thing as YA when I was a kid) until I graduated to adult historicals. My very favourite children’s series was the Mantlemass Chronicles by Barbara Willard. The novels, set in Sussex, cover the period from the late 1400s until the mid 1600s. Each novel skips a generation or two, so that the young lovers in the first book appear as grandparents in the next, etc. The series gives a wonderful sense of the sweep of time, and in my case fostered a lifelong love of history.

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