I am not one of those mortals who chortle about being born in the wrong era. NAH UH, DUDE. NOT ME. I like my internet and my air-conditioning, thankyouverymuch. But reading? Oh, oh I do so love to read about history.* And even better — I like to read historical retellings. Or historical fantasy? BASICALLY GIVE ME ALL THE HISTORY IN NOVELS AND PLEASE MAKE IT EXCITING, GRUESOME, AND HORRIBLE.**
The prompt for Top Ten Tuesday this week is “the past or future” so I’m taking historical events of the past and asking them to be retold. In the present? With magic? With dragons? In the future? POSSIBILITIES = ENDLESS. I mean, The Hunger Games basically took the past and put it in the future, right? And look how awfully wonderful and feels destroying that turned out.
This is my historical retellings wishlist. And if they never exist, well PERHAPS I SHALL WRITE THEM ALL. I being, obviously, immortal and having tons of time***.
* I grew up on like 80% historical fiction. HISTORY NERD ALERT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
** If you don’t now what the Horrible Histories books are, I am very very sad for the obviously nice childhood you had. Gruesome and gory history books are a much better thing to grow up with.
*** Also, by the way, I have come up with three complete novels in the last week…that makes 6 novels I should write this year. AH HA HA HAHAHHAHA. Oh dear. Help.
(Basically books you didn’t even know you need, BUT NOW YOU’RE GOING TO NEED. You’re welcome.)
Because can you imagine if there was a society run on magic…so they wouldn’t even need inventions? CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW BACKWARD BUT AWESOME THAT WOULD BE? Like they would even need the wheel because they’d just magic stuff places. Ahem. But needless to say dark suits and gothic mansions and magicians.
I may be a little obsessed with this idea and be planning a book about it. IN ALL MY FREE TIME…
2. GENGHIS KHAN AND HIS MONGOL HERD AS A DYSTOPIAN SCI-FI SOCIETY.
I want yurts and horses still, but in a backwards dusty society where there’s technology? But also HUGE grassy plains and barbaric customs. And lots of yelling. I just envision Mongols being a yelly crowd. Also: did you know the Mongols used to drink their own horse’s blood while on long journeys?
You’re welcome for that knowledge.
3. FRENCH REVOLUTION (OR, BASICALY, NAPOLEON) IN SPACE
I also have a thing for the French Revolution. I’m not sure if this is because the guillotine sounds scary or that Marie Antoinette* said “let the people eat cake” or that the French are just so freaking awesome…Or because I just really love Hornblower.
OKAY FINE WE KNOW IT WAS HORNBLOWER. **
Anyway, let’s throw all this into a space opera immediately.
* Except this IS HISTORICAL MYTH AND SHE PROBABLY DIDN’T SAY IT and I’m devastated. But living in denial for now. She said it, okay? She said it.
** The books are highly boring, though, and the BBC show is the best. I know this is a bookworm travesty to admit…BUT THERE. I SAID IT.
4. THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA WITH MAGICAL HUNS AND SCARY MONSTERS
“Why does everything have magic and monsters in it, Cait?” you ask. WELL, because why not? Plus anything with a wall intending to keep stuff out is AWESOME because obviously the wall breaks and chaos ensues. Look at China. And yes okay fine — this is just an excuse for Mulan retellings. You caught me.
5. NORTH POLE EXPLORATIONS BUT THEY WAKE AN ARMY OF ICE DRAGONS INSTEAD OF, YA KNOW, PLANTING FLAGS OR WHATNOT.
If you thought I wouldn’t talk about dragons — HA! You delightfully silly bean. Of course, I think all of history should be rewritten with dragons. But let’s start with ice dragons and the north pole.
I, though, would be cautious if I wrote a novel like this because North Pole expeditions inevitably end up with all the sledge dogs dying. I’M SICK OF KILLING THE SLEDGE DOGS FOR THE FEELS FACTOR. No more. Kill the humans. All of my sledge dogs would live.
6. THE LIFE OF VINCENT VAN GOGH AS A MODERN TEENAGER.
Imagining being around this dude…I mean, he sniffed paint, had like 94892 undiagnosed mental disorders — AND CHOPPED OFF HIS OWN EAR* AND GAVE IT TO SOMEONE. Least to say this’d make a perfectly tragic and horrifying contemporary and I want it. Can you even imagine what Van Gogh would’ve got up to if he’d had modern conveniences? Hahahaa…Gulp.
* Actually, for another brief historical-fact-moment with yours truly: apparently he actually lost his ear in a swordfight instead of chopping it off in a fit of madness. This is unproven though. I mean, most of history is hard to prove…the slogan of history is basically “YOU GOTTA HAVE BEEN THERE TO BELIEVE IT, MAN.”
7. LEONARDO DA VINCI AND MICHAELANGELO (MAYBE WITH GENDER BENDING TOO?!) AS IRRITATING GENIUS TEENAGERS IN MODERN TIMES.
Same as above, but this time with a simply wonderful rivalry with lots of malicious pranks and a teenager fight for “WHO IS THE TRUE GENIUS”. Also gender bending, because reasons. And if you don’t see this as a frictionous romance then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
8. THE GOLD RUSH IN THE USA BUT WITH FAERIES WHO LIVE IN THE GROUND AND EAT PEOPLE WHO TAKE THEIR GOLD.
Because it would be awesome to have those gold miners hacking away at the ground and then — BOOM — they unearth angry faeries. It would become a great gold war against the supernatural. Plus faeries…but all the trains and stop watches and “FANCY A CUP OF TEA, DEAR CHAP” sort of culture would. be. amazing.
9. AN EGYPTIAN FLAVOURED FANTASY WORLD, HOPEFULLY INVOLVING QUEEN HATSHEPSUT SQUASHING ALL THE PEASANTS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT QUEENS DO.
I love Egypt. I love how utterly insane it was, especially the royal family. Let’s not even talk about how they intermarried….hahahahah, nope. But a massive epic fantasy series with a bit o’ magic and a bit o’ tragic (that rhymes by the way, I am sacrificing grammar for rhyming and am not ashamed) would be impeccably delicious.
10. JUST EVERYONE STOP MESSING ABOUT AND DO MORE THINGS WITH PIRATES. PLEASE. PIIIIIRATES.
I really do love pirates. When I was a small child (this post is ridiculously full of nostalgia, I beg your pardon) I was going to be a pirate when I grew up. I even had a compass. A REAL COMPASS, OKAY? I was set. Also watching Disney’s Treasure Planet and all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies only fuelled this desire. Ahem. So. I want more pirate books. Time travelling pirates. High seas pirates on magical adventures. Pirates in space. Pirates riding dragons. Pastry pirates. Pirates who yell “AVAST ME HEARTIES” and poke each other with swords and find treasure and all that fun stuff.
Also I’m not really sure why I said “pastry pirates” other than that a) it sounded good, and b) I hadn’t mentioned food in a while and was beginning to feel faint.
And even though I think historical retellings aren’t as popular as they should be (and they totally should be because I decree it so), there are SOME out there. Some authors are listening to my magnanimous demands (bless them) and here are a few I’ve read:
- Game of Thrones: Which is apparently a retelling of the Rose Wars and I definitely see historical cultures influencing his fantasy. Also dragons are historical, totally don’t doubt me.
- Legacy of Kings: Hallelujah, SOMEONE WROTE ALEXANDER THE GREAT AS A TEEN. It’s got magic. And a freaky snake lady. But you’re brave enough to handle this, I believe in you.
- Wolf By Wolf: I’m cheating because I haven’t read this (but I have it on my TBR!) but I believe it’s “what if Hitler was still in power”.
- The Girl From Everywhere: It’s a time-travel book so it’s a bit all-over-the-place historically…BUT IT’S STILL HISTORICAL. And it’s based on a historical Hawaiian Heist in the 1800s! CAN WE SAY FREAKING AWESOME?!?
- Percy Jackson: And I mean, duh, Percy Jackson pulls ancient Greek mythology out and modernises it with sprinkles and horrific cliffhangers.
- Relic: Kindly gives us the western world of the ol’ US of A but with magic dinosaur bones. DON’T JUDGE IT TILL YOU READ IT. Dinosaur bones have got the power.
So they exist, but definitely as a minority…I want to see more. I don’t ask for much.