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The Pillars of the Earth
Ken Follett
 
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With James Clavell, Follett is the only author here with just one book on the list. That’s not at all because the other books are weaker, but because this particular book stood out in my mind and memory as one that meant something special to me. Set in the oft-forgotten 12th century, it’s a truly epic saga of the sort that works best in historical fiction. It’s interesting to note that Ken Follett was raised by Plymouth Brethren, just as Bernard Cornwell was brought up by ‘Peculiar People’ – two similar sects of very strictly religious backgrounds. Though both men rejected a great deal of their upbringing, both were nonetheless influenced in their subject matter as a result. This story of cathedral building is rightly recognised as Follett’s greatest work. It is a perfect example of what historical fiction can bring to the table – a world, more powerful and memorable because it existed rather than having to be imagined. Historical fiction has a great deal in common with fantasy, in my opinion, especially in epic scope. This is a masterwork.

Conn Iggulden - 11/09/2013
The Tiger in the Smoke
Margery Allingham
 
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Margery Allingham, like Dorothy L. Sayers, is a Golden Age writer remarkable for her evocation of place, a genuine puzzle, writing of a high quality and vivid characters who are never stereotypes. In this novel, in the persons of Canon Avril and the violent Jack Havoc, she is brave enough to engage in the perpetual war between good and evil in a book which will always be one of the triumphs of crime fiction.

P D James - 16/06/2014
The Complete Letters of Vincent Van...
Vincent Van Gogh
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In this three-volume box set, Van Gogh's correspondence, mostly to his brother Theo, reveals both his creative process and personal anguish.

Barry Fantoni - 11/06/2012

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