We here at HistoryBuff love historical fiction, but what are our favorite reads from this past year? Here are seven fascinating reads that any historical fiction fan will love.

  • The Empress of Bright Moon duo by Weina Dai Randel

The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, Weina Dai Randel's magnificent duet about the Chinese empress Wu Zetian, are two of the best reads from 2016, hands down. The author's exceptional writing, beautifully drawn characters, and engaging prose are second to none.

                                                            Image via Audible.

You will be rooting for our heroine from page one, and her heartbreaking, yet inspiring, journey through the treacheries of the imperial court is a real page-turner. Both The Moon in the Palace (buy here) and The Empress of Bright Moon (buy here) are available now.

  • Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen can pen a cozy mystery like no other; her Royal Spyness series, centered on minor (and fictional) royal Lady Georgiana Rannoch, are simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny, romantic, and spine-tingling. In this volume, Georgie and her beau Darcy attempt to save his father's reputation - and life - while battling an unknown enemy in 1930s Ireland.

                                 Lady Georgie strikes a pose. Image via GoodReads.

Pick up a copy of Crowned and Dangerous here!

  • Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

2016 might well be called the Year of Stephanie Burgis. This talented author, best known for writing middle-grade novels, ventured into the realms of historical fantasy with two books: Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets. These lushly drawn, evocative tales, each of which takes place in Eastern Europe in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, expertly balance compelling romance, court intrigue, and dangerous magic.                                                     Feature image via Twitter.

Burgis spins a spellbinding tale combining the politics of princes and the opera and arts scenes of Hungary and Austria in both books. Hers will be a name to watch going forward. Don't miss Masks and Shadows (buy here) and Congress of Secrets (purchase here).

  • River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper

This delicately crafted epistolary novel, set in medieval Sri Lanka, is at once heartbreakingly tragic and a beautifully descriptive tale of a flourishing kingdom and the debilitating effects of conquest. 

                                                            Image via Imgrum.

Cooper's hero, the tender-hearted poet Asanka, must keep himself alive by translating an epic for the very man who destroyed his beloved home, and readers will have their hearts in their throats as Asanka toes the line between loyalty and betrayal. Join Asanka on his journey by buying River of Ink here.

  • The Girl Who Fought Napoleon: A Novel of the Russian Empire by Linda Lafferty

Lafferty is well-known for bringing heroines lost in the mists of history to life, which she manages beautifully in The Girl Who Fought Napoleon. She brings to life the tale of Nadezhda Durova, an brave Russian woman who disguised herself as a man so she could join the army and fight Napoleon.

                                                   Image via GoodReads.

Lafferty makes Nadezhda's military progress intriguing, but the most interesting character in the story is Russia herself. Her harsh winters, her many and diverse peoples, her delectable cuisine - all play a key role in Nadezhda's journey. Pick up a copy of The Girl Who Fought Napoleon here.

Feature image via StephanieBurgis.com.