One of the hardest things for a writer, at least for this writer is to narrow my favorite book list down to five. In fact, I couldn’t do it. But, here is the list as best as I could come up with. The deciding factor with all my choices is characterizations. I love a good plot but I can overlook a lot of plot issues if I love the characters.
At the top is The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay. This is set in a mythical medieval country which is clearly medieval Spain. The lines designating the two main men as protagonist and antagonist are so blurred and faint as to be non-existent. The nature of the men is beautifully drawn. The reader completely understands each man’s moral and ethical code, why he believes what he believes and why he must fight for his cause. Sadly, the reader also knows in their heart that at some point these characters must battle each other and only one will survive and it is gut wrenching.
The next is Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. As a teenager, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I think most of us have seen the Bela Lugosi movies. We grew up with a distinct visual of this pale man in a tuxedo living in a spooky castle in the Carpathian Mountains. When the man came to the modern world, he moved through London at night in a creepy way with mists and in shadows.
Well Anne Rice did away with all that and brought the vampire into the modern world with a vengeance. Her Lestat and Louis were good looking, sly, intelligent, in Louis’s case angry and depressed, they ran the gamut of emotions. Most of all, they were fascinating monsters. I loved the line where Louis says to the reporter: “Are you afraid of me?” and the reporter says: “No.” Louis says, “You should be.” Loved it!
IMO every vampire romance since Interview, be it written or on television: Twilight, Buffy, Vampire Diaries, etc. all can thank Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles for their success. She opened up a whole new world of vampires.
Third on my list is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I can make this explanation short and sweet. As much as we as readers hated Inspector Javert for his relentless pursuit of the “good” man, Jean Valjean, Hugo in an instant turns the reader around. That is what made this story so incredible for me. The ability to surprise the reader with the reason for Javert’s nature, to show this tragic side of the man. Before that the book was a wonderful story but when Hugo exposed Javert in that way, for me, he gave the character a richness that changed the book in a remarkable way.
The fourth is not a book but a series. It would be the Lord of the Ring series by J. R. R. Tolkien. I normally don’t read fantasy books but like most high school students of my time, I read this series. I picked it up again about ten years ago and reread it. I found I enjoyed it just as much, if not more. I love it for the way Tolkien pulled me into this quest and made me care about these strange beings. I wanted them to succeed. The camaraderie he was able to show throughout made the reader care.
Last would be the series I’m currently reading, The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell. He is my favorite historical fiction writer. The Saxon Tales is told in the first person. Cornwell is the best at writing a battle. His history is impeccable. His characters have a support cast that is in and of itself wonderful. The humor is a delight. Just because it’s historical fiction doesn’t mean his people can’t be funny and they do get good lines off. His books are exciting and a joy to read. The visual landscape of 9th century England he paints is the best.
About the Author
Chris Karlsen is a Chicago native. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her late teens where she later studied at UCLA. She graduated with a Business Degree. The daughter of a history professor and a mother who was a voracious reader, she grew up with a love of history and books.
Her parents were also passionate about traveling and passed their passion onto Chris. Once bitten with the travel bug, Chris spent most of her adult life visiting the places she'd read about and that fascinated her. Her travels have taken her Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, in addition to most of the United States. She most frequently visited England and France, where several of her books are set.
After college, Chris spent the next twenty-five years in law enforcement with two agencies. Harboring a strong desire to write since her teens, upon retiring from police work, Chris decided to pursue her writing career. She writes three different series. Her historical romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters, and he latest book, Silk, is book one in her mystery/suspense series, The Bloodstone series.
She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs.
My website is: http://chriskarlsen.com/
My FB page: https://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter
My Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/
ABOUT THE BOOK
While horseback riding in the English countryside, sisters Electra and Emily Crippen find themselves trapped in a tear in time. Thrown back to 1357 England and caught by a local noble, they are in a place that is home but as frightening and unfamiliar as an alien world would be. With no idea how the tear in time came about, the one thing they do know is: they must stay together and stay near to where the event took place in hopes of discovering the way back to their modern life. That certain need to stay together is the first certainty taken from them when one sister is forced to remain in England and one is sent miles away to Wales by royal order.
There is one other hope for help the sisters don’t know exists. It’s Electra’s lover, Roger Marchand. A time traveler himself, he never told her of his past. When he realizes what has happened to the sisters, he enlists the help of a scientist friend to help him open the suspected passageway through time. Any effort to save Electra and Emily will likely cost him his life. This was the time Roger came from, a time when his country, France, was at war with England. If he is discovered on English soil while searching for the sisters, he will either be killed or taken prisoner of war. Any risk is worth saving the life of the woman he loves.