On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be on a fantastic panel at Balticon called ‘Weirding the Regency: Fantasy of Manners, Napoleonic Space Opera, and More.’ It was the panel I was most excited about all weekend, since the program description read like it had been written just for me! Historical fantasy and space opera are two of my absolute favorite genres as a reader AND a writer! I was joined by awesome co-panelists John G. Walker and Melissa Scott, and together with a fantastic audience we got to nerd out extravagantly.
I promised while I was there that I would write up the huge list of books I blurted out as recommendations, since I’m a fast talker (and an overly enthusiastic hand-waver). So if you were there, here you go! And if you weren’t, you should definitely still keep reading, because these are some awesome books and I highly recommend you read them. (And if you want to nerd out about them with me, I’m ALL FOR IT! Get your wavy hands ready.)
A) Several of these are actually series, rather than individual books. I’ve generally only linked the first book in the series, but if you need help find the rest, feel free to reach out! I’m an avid book enabler and a series junkie, so I’m always ready to help.
B) If you, like me, adore the historical fantasy genre and are a Facebook user, consider joining the truly exceptional Historical Fantasy Book Club on FB! A LOT of these recommendations came from my experiences there (and several of the authors of these books hang out there on a regular basis, since we’re all big genre fans!).
On to the books!
YA Historical Fantasy:
- Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (1st in a series!)
- Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (an absolute classic in the genre, and probably the one people have heard of most! And SO GOOD – it’s an epistolary novel!)
- A Matter of Magic by Patricia Wrede (literally one of my favorite books in the entire world. Had a huge influence on me and my writing.)
- Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (first in a series!)
- Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (the king of YA fantasy wrote this fun, light regency fantasy in 2015, and it’s a standalone!)
Adult Historical Fantasy:
- Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (she of YA historical fantasy fame has begun writing for adults!)
- Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (You’ve probably heard of Kowal’s great Glamourist histories – this is a great crossover point for those of you dipping your toes in between SFF and romance!)
- The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (an epic trilogy!)
- Winterwood by Jacey Bedford (first in the Rowankind series)
- Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (new! and SO GOOD!)
- His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (first in the Temeraire series)
- The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger (this is a link to the box set of the first series in Carriger’s incredible steampunk world – her heroines are amazing!)
- Essential Magic by Cara McKinnon (first in the Fay of Skye series)
- Burning Bright by Melissa McShane (first in the Extraordinaries series)
And of course I would be remiss not to mention my own Wizards of London series, which begins with Thieves’ Honor, as well as the Galipp Files series set in the same world, which starts with The Star of Anatolia!
- The Honor Harrington series by David Weber begins with On Basilisk Station (this is the classic entry into the Napoleonic space opera genre, as it’s a not-even-thinly veiled Horatio Hornblower tribute!)
- The Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold begins with Cordelia’s Honor, which features a badass heroine who eventually goes on to become a badass matriarch later in the series, which is one of my favorite character arcs in all of fiction. An important entry in the series is A Civil Campaign, which was specifically written to mimic a Regency romance – in spaaaaaace!
- The Serrano series by Elizabeth Moon can be started with the Heris Serrano omnibus. This series features some trappings of high society and great female leads, but doesn’t always follow the Regency themes we’re discussing. It’s incredible classic space opera, though, so I can’t leave it out.
- Finally, my absolute favorite space opera series is not even remotely Napoleonic, but I can’t bear to leave it out of a list of recommendations. The Mageworlds series by Debra Doyle and James McDonald is something I reread almost as often as A Matter of Magic (mentioned above). It is, to be honest, far more inspired by Star Wars than by Napoleon, but it is incredible and I highly recommend it.
If you’ve got additional books to recommend along these themes, feel free to leave a comment! Or if you’ve read any of these books, comment to let me know if you enjoyed them! Thanks to everyone who came to the panel on Saturday!
One final disclosure: the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Any money I get from affiliate links goes directly to buying more books.