Exploration has been on the minds of humanity since the beginning of time. Whether it is discovering a new star, landing on a new continent, or making scientific breakthroughs, exploring the world has piqued the curiosity of men and women for ages. Perhaps this is why I find the historical fiction genre so satisfying. I was (and still am) enthralled with the ability to pick up a book and find myself in a different place on Earth, fighting for survival on the Titanic, seeing women’s suffrage in the early 1900’s, or attending a magical boarding school in Victorian England.
Historical fiction is not only entertaining, but it promotes listening to and understanding multiple perspectives. Oftentimes, history is portrayed as one-sided and flat: events transpired and results occurred. However, in a good historical fiction plot, we see the protagonist handling conflict, weighing different points of view, and examining the complex nature of issues at hand.
While there is no way I could definitively state which time period or location is my favorite to read about, I have chosen a few young adult novels that will take you back in time to Ancient Rome! The following novels are so exciting that you can practically hear the clash of steel and feel the hot desert sand sting your face.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Possibly my favorite book of 2015, Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel has been taking the world of YA literature by storm. Originally published without concrete plans for a sequel, Tahir’s novel is set in the Martial Empire- a brutal, fight-or-die empire inspired by Ancient Rome. The novel follows two protagonists from opposite sides of this empire’s spectrum. Laia is a lowly Scholar whose brother is captured by Martial soldiers for conspiring against the empire. Determined to rescue the only family she has left, Laia risks everything to go undercover and spy on the Commandant, the brutal head of the Martial military, in exchange for her brother’s freedom. Elias is an elite member of the Martial military, the Masks, endowed with special rights and powers to use for the empire’s benefit. However, he did not choose this journey and instead longs for his own freedom. As Laia and Elias’ paths cross, they realize that freedom will be much more difficult to attain than they thought. With the rapid popularity that this novel has received, a sequel has been confirmed for this series. Continue reading Booklist: Gods, Princes, and Ancient Rome in Historical Fiction