When most think of the fantasy genre, they don’t often think of Roman fantasy. Instead, we often think of Medieval England. Knights, dragons, and evil kings are very common in fantasy literature, and that popularity probably isn’t going away anytime soon. However, if you are in the mood for something other than “traditional” fantasy and all that goes with it, don’t worry! You have options.
Fantasy literature exists in every time period, every location across the globe, and in stupendous fictional worlds too! That said, one of the less common time periods for fantasy to take place in is the Roman era. Roman fantasy is a fascinating genre that will provide you with epic adventures, war, and a bit of history, if that’s what you’re looking for. Keep reading to find out more about Roman fantasy and decide for yourself if this could be your new favorite genre.
The Roman Empire
The Roman Empire is possibly one of the best-documented historical periods. There are still artifacts standing from this time period. For context, the Roman Empire existed from 27 BCE-385 AD. It has a rich history and culture that it is hard to boil down and put in simple terms.
The Roman Empire is known for many things, but one of the most commonly known facts is the size and power of its military. There was no match for the Roman army, and it has been depicted in pop culture for many years. Other than that, we have Ancient Rome to thank for many of the things that exist in our lives today.
The Roman Empire influenced language, art, literature, architecture, philosophy, mathematics, law, government, and so much more. Without the existence and the influence of the Roman Empire, the world as we know it would not exist.
It should come as no surprise then that Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire are popular choices for historical fiction and fantasy. Movies, art, television shows, and books all have plenty of content depicting the Roman Empire. Roman fantasy in a literary sense includes anything that is influenced by the Roman Empire. It could also be anything that takes place in the time period or anything that includes characters from the Roman Empire.
This may seem like a pretty wide net, and it is. There are thousands of books that fit into the genre of Roman fantasy simply due to the fact that they take inspiration from the time period. A lot of books that are Roman fantasies do not specifically take place within the confines of the Roman Empire. Many times, the author takes inspiration from the time period (the customs, wars, and so on) and puts them into their own fictional world. This gives the author a lot of freedom when it comes to adding in magic and other supernatural elements.
And generally, Roman fantasy novels would also fall into the category of historical fiction. They use real people and places and rely heavily on the history of the Roman Empire for their story. However, there are just as man Roman fantasies that are not historical fiction. They may just take inspiration from Roman history, but not actually use it in the story. Whether or not you are a fan of historical fiction, you will likely find a Roman fantasy that you can enjoy.
Examples of Roman Fantasy
I’m sure you know by now that Roman fantasy is a fascinating genre that is full of action and adventure. Though it may seem like the only interesting part of Roman fantasy are the conflicts and war, there’s much more to it than that. Roman fantasies can also be full of romance, magic, mythological creatures, religion, and folklore. There is a lot to explore in this genre. If you are looking for a great entry into Roman fantasy, look no further than the novels or series below.
From Unseen Fire
From Unseen Fire is the first novel in a series by Cass Morris. There are currently three novels in the series, with more to come. This novel takes place in an alternate Rome. Though the setting is fictional and the names of cities and towns are created by the author, there are almost direct parallels with ancient Rome. There are so many parallels that this novel probably also qualifies as historical fantasy.
This novel follows a young girl who has the chance to become the protector of her city. There is plenty of magic, political intrigue, and romance throughout this novel. The storyline is incredibly compelling and the characters have a great amount of depth to them. Rebellion, wars, evil leaders, and magic all await the reader in this fascinating Roman fantasy.
Chronicles of an Imperial Legionary Officer
Chronicles of an Imperial Legionary Officer is a Roman-inspired fantasy series by Marc Alan Edelheit. There are eight novels in this series, and they have a massive fan base. The first novel in the series is Stiger’s Tigers, with a release date of 2015, making this a very recent series. This novel has everything a reader hopes for in a Roman fantasy including war, magic, mythology, and noblemen.
The first novel in the series follows Captain Ben Stiger as he attempts to lead a company of soldiers, fight in a war, and survive to see another day. There is action around every corner in this series, and it is a great choice for a reader looking to escape to a new world. If quests, wars, and magic appeal to you as a reader, Chronicles of an Imperial Legionary Officer is likely to satisfy you.
An Ember in the Ashes
An Ember in the Ashes is the first novel in the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. This series has four books and each of them takes inspiration from ancient Rome. Tahir has invented a new world, but there are many ties and references to ancient Rome throughout the series. There are many parallels that history buffs will recognize, but it is not historically accurate nor would it count as historical fiction in my opinion.
This series follows a young girl who is hiding with her grandparents from the Empire. They do not challenge the Empire until her brother is arrested and she is forced to try to save him. The reader follows the young girl on her adventure to save her brother, and along the way, we discover magic, romance, and betrayal alongside her.
Though this series is generally for young adults, there is much to enjoy for every reader. Magic, romance, action, and adventure fill the pages of this series and should keep the reader engaged through all the twists and turns that the author throws at them.
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!