If you have been watching the newest season of Netflix’s Bridgerton and wondering about the real lives of African kings and queens, this booklist is perfect for you!

Fans of nonfiction will enjoy  Linda M. Heywood’s thrilling biography of Queen Njinga, a 17th century queen in what is present day Angola and her political exploits. D. T. Niane’s Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali is a classic in the African heroic epic genre. It tells the magic-suffused story of Sundiata Keita’s rise to power. Veronique Tadjo’s book retells the inspiring life of the 18th century Baoule queen, Abla Pokou, and the tragic event that transformed her world. Victoria Princewill’s The Diary of Sarah Forbes Bonetta was recently published. It’s a YA novel that chronicles the life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who became Queen Victoria’s protégée. Bonetta was born in Yoruba land and captured at the tender age of five in 1848 during the Okeadon War.

Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka is another empire-builder story about Shaka Zulu, who ruled in the early 19th century. Mofolo details Shaka’s rise from a childhood of neglect and persecution to becoming one of Africa’s most controversial royals. Though it’s a political thriller, the story contains some romance and a good bit of family drama. Wole Soyinka’s famous play Death and the King’s Horseman, which was recently adapted to film by Netflix, takes you into the intricacies of Yoruba palace ritual and politics.

We couldn’t leave the romance fiction lovers out, so here are two spicy romance novels themed around African royalty: Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory and Nana Prah’s His Defiant Princess.

We hope you enjoy exploring the real and imagined lives of African kings and queens of yesteryears!