Reviews :: Book Genre :: Alternate Historical Fiction

This archive contains links to all of the Alternate Historical Fiction Book Reviews we've written over the years. If you've come here looking for something in that realm, you're in luck! We just happen to have more than a few suggestions lying around the place waiting for your perusal.

If you're looking for something else, say a book in another genre or maybe just any book that we happened to think was awesome-sauce, browse around the site for a bit and check out our reviews.

Just don't forget to let us know what you thought of a book you've read or if there's a suggestion you have for something we'd like to read! We're always looking for the next tale of fantastical mayhem pulled from the annals of history.

Review

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

If you’re reading this review, the odds are good it’s because at some point you read a book with a dragon in it–and realized that most subjects could benefit from dragons, such as: endless political machinations, the Napoleonic Wars, and yes even tacos.

Everything’s better with dragons.

And now that list includes Russian history.

“The dragons were harrowing the provinces again. They did that whenever the Tsar was upset with the Jews.” Jane Yolen wasn’t planning on writing more dragon stories but when these lines popped into her head, the image of leathery wings in dark northern skies wouldn’t leave her. We should be grateful for the whims of creative fate because THE LAST TSAR’S DRAGONS (Amazon) is a well-written, clever novella that’s worth your time.
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Review

A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago

Imagine you’re a chef and at your restaurant you only make one meal. It’s beautiful and satisfying and no one’s complaining about the plate of gorgeous food in front of them. In fact, you have plenty of repeat customers, because hey, a lot of people go to restaurants and order the same thing every time. Why venture into the unknown towards probable disappointment?

But no matter how great your one meal is, some of your customers are eventually going to wonder what the dessert menu might look like.

And that analogy is close to where I find myself as a Guy Gavriel Kay fan. I’ve been reading him for close to a decade now and I’m a completist (except his poems, haven’t read those). His books make me cry. They’re lovely and poetic and full of ordinary and extraordinary people alike trying to make good choices when the world doesn’t seem to give them any.

Even as a fan, I’m cognizant that his books tend towards a certain… sameness. He works with archetypes — the poet, the warrior, the artist, the lover, the priest — and continually revisits themes of fate and choice. He does it well, but while reading his latest offering I found myself wondering what else he has to offer.
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Review

Trial By Treason

Posted: September 25, 2018 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Dave Duncan, Alternate Historical Fiction
Trial By Treason

So I’d never heard of Dave Duncan before this book showed up at my house. As the managing editor here at EBR I’m the one who gets the books and divvies them out. There used to be a time–when I first started here eight years ago–that Steve would send me stuff and I would read it because he told me to; sometimes I’d get to choose. Not anymore. I’ll admit that now it’s typical for me to read the first couple pages of everything that comes in and keep what I think looks interesting. I’ll also admit that the front cover of this book didn’t particularly grab me.

But then I read the first couple of pages. And then I read the first couple of chapters. Then I looked up Dave Duncan on the wiki and that dude has something like 40 books to his name! What dungeon have I been holed up in all these years? First I remedied it by reading TRIAL BY TREASON then I’ll continue to see what else he’s got.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Summerland

Summerland

Mr. Rajaniemi has been on my watch list for a while now. Although I missed reading his Jean le Flambeur series (EBR Archive), I did read a collection of his short stories (EBR Review) back in 2015 and LOVED it. Then I didn’t hear from him for a long time. Not even a phone call, you know? 😉 But as soon as I saw this book in our pile, I was all over it. Didn’t want to pass up a read like I expected this one to be.
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Review

Tales of Ruma

Tales of Ruma

RPGs are for nerds.

You know it. I know it. They know it. Erm… well, I guess technically I should say “we” know it, because there ain’t no way I’m gonna skirt the issue on this one: we’re pretty much ALL nerds here at EBR. 🙂 And you know what? I think if more “non-nerdy” people would put their petty pride aside for one freaking minute and let themselves get lost in the imagination, adventure, and sheer brilliance of some of the good RPGs out there, the ranks of the RPGers would quickly swell. Because RPGs aren’t just a story; though indeed they are that. And they’re not just a game; though indeed they are that as well. They’re imagination and spontaneity and characterization in a form that you just can’t find anywhere else.

So don’t let anyone sway you from standing up for the oft-berated RPGs and RPGers alike. For it’s from those very annals that Steven Erikson gave us the Malazan Book of the Fallen. And Misters Abraham and Franck gave us the wide tapestry of The Expanse. And for all of you “non-nerdy” people: is there any way you’re going to nay-say the awesome goodness of Stranger Things?

<<crickets>>

I didn’t think so.
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Review

The Tombs

The Tombs

Teenage Avery’s life changed the day her mother was committed to the Tombs, a ‘hospital’ for the insane. In an effort to hide their disgrace–and out of necessity as their middle-class standing is ruined–Avery and her father change their names and move to a less desirable part of town, where her father opens a clockwork shop and she begins working as a welder at a local factory. It’s not the life she lived before, where she went to school, wore nice clothes, and was friends with girls her age–and when her father didn’t drink himself into a stupor every night. But not everything is bleak. She has her peregrine “Seraphine”, best friend Khan, and welding work that she realizes she has a knack for.

Everything changes again when new abilities begin to manifest and she realizes that her mother was hospitalized for being crazy when in reality she has empathic powers.
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Review

Outlander

Outlander

Romance isn’t exactly a genre that we here at EBR dip our toes into very often. In point of fact, I just looked up how many reviews of books we have that are labeled as being tagged as “romance”. Want to know how many there were? Two. And one of those, I was tricked into reading. Seeing as how having only one review in a given genre is kind of silly, and having two seems more like an excuse to remove the genre than even one did, I thought I’d add to that total and provide the third review in this oft-forgotten genre here at EBR. I know. I’m too much. You can thank me later for my generosity. No, in all seriousness I also kind of wanted to review this book because then I could mention the fact that the author of this book is none other than Sam Sykes’s mother, and if you don’t know who Sam Sykes is, then you should watch out for my next review. Until then, there’s this one, and it ain’t too shabby either.
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Review

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma

Bodhmhall’s little settlement is in trouble. Established three years ago after being expelled from her clan, the settlement of Ráth Bládhma is home to a handful of misfits, simply trying to live a quiet, fulfilling life in the wilds of Ireland. But one fateful day, Bodhmall’s pregnant sister-in-law Muirne stumbles into their settlement with news of the old clan’s demise–and she carries what could be its heir. Will the competing clan come looking for her?

When Bodhmhall’s partner Liath Luachra comes across tracks in the forest, she discovers a war band in search of something…or someone. As she tracks them down to learn their number and purpose, she finds that they’re aided by a Tainted One–what happens when a druid turns to darker forces–and suddenly their plight becomes much more fraught.

***WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS*** Usually I don’t give away the story, but I feel the need to explain myself.
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Review

The Liberation

Posted: January 28, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Ian Tregillis, Alternate Historical Fiction
The Liberation

Endings are always tough when it comes to book series. For readers, for authors, and quite usually for the characters as well. They’re the showdown, the climax of everything written thus far, the point where we as readers have to say goodbye. For many, the ending is the part of the book, or series, that will determine whether you like or hate it, despite everything that has led you as a reader to the point. I’m more in the camp of “joy in the journey” than “how-does-it-end”. So, a great read that has a decent ending gets higher marks than a ho-hum read with a brilliant ending. It’s really nice though when I don’t have to make that distinction; when I get to read something that was a great series, had a great last book, and a great ending.
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Review

Revisionary

Revisionary

Isaac Vainio, once-librarian and now major player on the world stage, helped reveal magic to the world along with certain Porters and allies. The Porters are an organization of magic-users founded by none other than Johannes Gutenburg himself. Libriomancy, discovered by Gutenburg, is magic using books and “libriomancers” are able to pull things out of books, things that real authors have imagined and in which a certain amount of belief exists from readers, which fuels the magic. These items–weapons and magic cloaks and healing elixirs–and even characters, have a profound effect on the real world, with mixed results and sometimes dire consequences. Jim C. Hines has taken this idea and developed it in a most satisfying way. He often references favorite sci-fi and fantasy classics, even some obscure geek favorites, and also simply makes books up when he needs them. These are some of the best, especially when they parody bad speculative fiction.
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