Napoleonic Fantasy: A Simple Guide (2023 Edition)

Historical fantasy is a genre that does not get enough attention. It is a great genre with so much to offer the reader. Historical fantasy seems like a bit of a paradox, but there are plenty of authors out there who make historical fantasy is an epic genre. 

Within the umbrella of historical fantasy lie many other, smaller sub-genres. One of these sub-genres is Napoleonic fantasy. As expected, this genre is full of wars and battle scenes during the Napoleonic era or an era similar to it. Don’t worry, though. If historical fiction is not your taste, the genre still has much to offer. This is a genre that is full of adventure and excitement from start to finish. And if Napoleonic fantasy seems like something that interests you, keep reading to find out more about this great genre. If this genre doesn’t seem appealing to you, that’s okay. Keep reading to learn why it is a genre that you may want to try out at least once or twice.  

Napoleonic Fantasy 

Napoleonic fantasy fanart

Napoleonic fantasy is fairly simple to understand. It includes any novel that takes place during the Napoleonic era or takes inspiration from the era.

If historical fantasy is not typically a genre you gravitate towards, don’t worry. Napoleonic fantasy has much more to offer than just history. Wars, powerful rulers, French influence, and coups are common throughout Napoleonic fantasy. Just about every Napoleonic fantasy novel out there has at least one epic battle scene. 

Because of the nature of Napoleonic fantasy, there is always some element of magic or the supernatural involved. This plays out differently in every novel, but it always makes a great addition to any story. Some Napoleonic fantasies include dragons, others include magic weapons of war, while others include supernatural beings like vampires or demons. Adding magic into history can make it more appealing particularly to those who aren’t often interested in history. 

Whether you are typically a fan of historical fantasy or not, you very well may be able to find something in this genre that appeals to you. 

Examples of Napoleonic Fantasy 

If you are not typically a fan of historical fantasy, you may be thinking that Napoleonic fantasy is not the genre for you. But there are some reasons why this might not be the case. 

Though many Napoleonic fantasies are historical fantasies, there are many that aren’t exactly. For instance, there are plenty of novels in the genre that take inspiration from the Napoleonic era, but that is where the historical component ends. Magic and the supernatural will also be present in every Napoleonic fantasy, and how that plays out is different for most authors. 

Take a look at the recommendations below for some examples of Napoleonic fantasy. I have included both historical fantasy and less historically-focused novels, so there could be a recommendation for you. 

Twelve

Twelve is a 2008 novel by Jasper Kent. It is the first in a series of historical fantasy novels that take place during the Napoleonic era. Fans of historical fantasy, vampire fantasy, and thrillers might enjoy this series. 

This novel follows Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov during the French invasion of Russia. Aleksei enlists the help of twelve mercenaries who claim they can change the way the war is going and save Moscow from the French. During this time, Aleksei realizes that these twelve strangers might actually be doing more harm than good. It seems that there are secrets about them that Aleksei was unaware of. Unfortunately, these secrets could cause damage even greater than that of the French army. 

This novel and the series it is part of contains mystery, historical details, and page-turning action. If Napoleonic fantasy is something you want to start reading, this novel is a great one to try. This series is probably the darkest one on this list, so fans of dark fantasy will certainly enjoy its gloomy tone. 

Temeraire 

Temeraire is a series of novels by Naomi Novik. This series is set in the Napoleonic era, though it is not really classified as historical fantasy. It is more of an alternate history, which allows for the elements of fantasy throughout the series to really shine through. There are nine novels in this series. The first three novels in the series focus largely on the Napoleonic Wars, but there are still historical elements throughout the rest of the books in the series. 

Temeraire follows Captain William Laurence and his dragon as they battle Napoleon as part of the British Royal Navy. This book contains epic battle scenes throughout made even more epic by the appearance of dragons and other mythical creatures. Though it may not be a historical fantasy, there are still elements of history. The author does a great job making these historical elements more interesting through fantasy elements. 

Anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, historical or alternate historical fantasies, and of course Napoleonic fantasy will likely enjoy this book!  

Powder Mage

The Powder Mage trilogy is a series of novels by Brian McClellan. Though this series is not set in the Napoleonic era, nor does it mention Napoleon, it is largely influenced by the time period and the wars that were fought. There is much less historical fantasy in this series than in the above series. 

This trilogy takes place in a fictional kingdom in which the monarchy has just been overthrown. The trilogy follows three men as they are faced with the aftermath of the coup. There are clear Napoleonic influences throughout, and the technology and weaponry used in battle are very similar to that of the Napoleonic era. Because it is an epic fantasy, however, there is also plenty of magic throughout. 

Readers who enjoy epic fantasy will likely get a kick out of this trilogy. The battle scenes are epic, and they are made that much more intriguing with the use of magic as a weapon. The characters are well-developed and the world in which the story takes place is highly detailed and intricate. It is a great trilogy for any fantasy fan looking to dip their toes in Napoleonic fantasy. 

Napoleonic Fantasy: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about and given you some ideas of books to read in this subgenre.

And if you want to read more about unique fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!

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