3 Best Historical Fiction Books: Ancient Rome

There are thousands and thousands of great historical fiction books written about Ancient Rome. But my favourite historical fiction books must be historically accurate, have well written characters that pull the story along, and I really like just a touch of romance…

Historical novels tread a fine line between having to have a captivating story (as if history isn’t captivating enough) and remaining historically accurate. You’ll notice that two of the three of the best historical fiction books I suggest are actually written by the same writer. This is because not only do I adore the writer’s style, but I also can’t resist a good book series!

Best Historical Fiction: Ancient Rome

1. Mistress of Rome (Kindle) by Kate Quinn
Set in first century Rome, there is romance, gladiators and accurate descriptions of historical figures and places. But don’t let the word romance put you off – one of this author’s strengths is that she often focuses on the harsh realities of the period. Be for warned – sometimes those realities can be very dark and very difficult to read. This book doesn’t paint the time period as overly romantic, and often told from the point of view of a young slave woman who must use her intelligence to save her lover and navigate an insane Roman emperor. Get past the first few pages and you won’t be able to put the book down.

2. Empress of the Seven Hills (Kindle) by Kate Quinn (part of the Empress of Rome series)
A continuation of the first book*, Empress of the Seven Hills follows the children of the characters from the first book. You’ll travel ancient Rome and meet the man whose name is given to the park my daughter plays in – Hadrian. You’ll go on campaign with the ancient Roman army (there is marching, of course down, the Appian Way that I just walked this weekend). Just like Mistress of Rome there is a little romance – but again, the author remains historically accurate and doesn’t have plebeians marrying patricians.

3. The Course of Honor  (Kindle) by Lindsey Davis
For a historical fiction fan who is used to events easily woven into the story, this one might prove a bit tedious. However, this book focuses on the true story of Caenis, a slave living in the Emperial Court, and Roman soldier Vespasian. Slave and soldier, it’s interesting to see two people who so clearly love each other, but who both maintain the balance between slave and free man within the rigid social classes of ancient Rome. The story is well written and doesn’t take liberties with the time period. There is quite a bit of a history lesson tone – but that’s one of the things I enjoyed about it so much!

I would love if you have any suggestions for Ancient Rome Historical Fiction books for me! Also, I own all of these books and if you ever want to do a kindle share let me know!

Bonus: Kate Quinn just released a new novel and continuation to Mistress of Rome and Empress of the Seven Hills. Lady of the Eternal City is the third book in Empress of Rome series…

*Book number two is  Daughters of Rome  and while it is part of the series it deals with a whole different set of characters. Book one, three and four are a continuation of each other and the story lines of their characters.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It