Greek mythology has a very special place in western culture. We see it in architecture, in art, and in the stories that inspire us. Terminology like a person’s “Achille’s heel” is so commonly accepted in the English vernacular that we don’t often give it a second thought. This mythos is ever present, and it acts as a creative muse (pun intended) to writers everywhere, and when there are stories that showcase Greek mythology in new and fun ways, those stories should be shared and explored.
Here are five stories that resonate with Greek mythology:
image via amazon
Written by Madeline Miller, Circe was selected in 2018 as a Goodreads Choice winner. This book follows the titular character Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios. Though she didn’t inherit the her parent’s powers, Circe learns that she, in her own right, can rival the gods. For this very reason, she is banished to a deserted island where she continues to practice her magic and learn more about herself. She is ultimately forced to make a decision: will she ally herself with mortals, the individuals that she often sought solace with, or will she reunite with the gods, the group from which she originated?
2. Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from myths and monsters
With lyrical prose and striking verse, beloved poet Nikita Gill…uses the history of Ancient Greece and beyond to explore and share the stories of the mothers, warriors, creators, survivors, and destroyers who shook the world. A few examples of poems from this collection are Chaos to Nyx, Athena’s Tale, and Athena to Medusa.
image via goodreads
Antigoddess is the first book in Kendare Blake‘s series: Goddess War. The story begins with the goddess Athena growing feathers under her skin and inside her lungs. Hermes has a fever that is consuming his flesh, and the other Greek deities are suffering in similar ways. In order to find out why they are slowly dying, these two Greek immortals seek out Cassandra, a woman who was once a prophetess. They learn that Hera has joined with the enemies of Olympus in a bid for revenge, and these enemies are also falling victim to the same corruption that the Greek deities are.
4. The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies
image via goodreads
Written by Martin Millar, The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies follows the playwright Aristophanes, who is having a really tough time of it. He’s trying to create a comedy that will convince Athens to not go to war with Sparta for another ten years, but one inconvenience after another continues to hinder his efforts. To make matters worse, Spartan and Athenian generals have released Laet, a spirit of foolishness and poor decisions on Athens with the intention of sparking war. Athena, in an effort to stop this chaotic force, sends the Amazonian warrior Bremusa and the nymph Metris into the fray. This book has been described as a “witty and comical romp for readers of all ages.”
5. Till We have faces
image via amazon
While I try to find books and stories that have been published more recently, I couldn’t pass up adding this text to the list. Author C.S. Lewis wrote Til We Have Faces with the intent to retell the famous “Cupid and Psyche” myth from the point of view of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Orual is described as being physically disfigured, bitter and obsessively in love with her sibling. When Cupid falls for Psyche and takes her away, her sister is forced to reevaluate her moral stance and decide where, exactly, she will go. It should be noted that this book is allegorical, and there are some distinct theological undertones attached to it.
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The Chronicles of Narnia is a foundational fantasy work, and it’s also got some very funny moments. Moments that should be memes. From putting a lamppost in the story for spite to not even bothering to hide the religious allegory, Lewis wasn’t afraid of anything, and it shows. He goes all in, and I respect the hell out of it.
At All Times
Gif via Gfycat
If this was a list of things I’ve gotten together, there wouldn’t even be a heading. What’s working? Nothing. Obviously. I’m a disaster at the best of times, but add midterms and/or having to save the world? Please. Lucy’s face says everything. Really the ultimate mood. At least I haven’t spent any time in a freezing river recently. Small mercies.
Aslan Gets It
Image via Pikdo
Look, it’s hard to be on the cutting edge of memes. I mean, in my opinion, memes change like fine wine, but there’s nothing wrong with a fresh, spicy meme. And if you’re wondering if I’ve seen a new meme yet—I have. In the iconic words of my kid sister, it’s all memes in here (my brain). I’ve seen it all. If there was a meme museum, I’d be a docent.
Image via PicDove
It’s one of those things that sounds reasonable and then you’re like… why would I need to do that. Like, maybe open a window? Of course if you’ve got the vapors, going outside might be better, but not if you have hay fever. I love Susan’s practicality. She’s like, you know what improves every situation? Fresh air. I’m surprised she didn’t put on a kettle.
Nerds? Book Nerds?
Image via PublicInsta
It’s the constant struggle. You see someone reading and enjoying a book you love, do you interrupt them? I get almost as excited as I do when I see any dogs. I want. To be friends. Like, let’s talk about books. Let’s talk about everything. It’s an objectively bad energy, and you can’t come in with that on the subway. You can’t have any energy on the subway. It’s rough.
I’ve Gotta Check Every Time
Image via Amino Apps
Look. I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual wardrobe in my life. But I do press on the back of drawers and closet walls. I know they’re made of incredibly normal wood, but I have to hope, you know? Like, I always check my mail for a Hogwarts letter, even though everything else in there is going to be bad. Life may be ordinary, but there’s no reason to lose hope.
We at Bookstr do what we do for our love of books, but once you get down to it, the publishing world is heavily competitive. Some writers win acclaim and fortune, while others are gradually forgotten over the ages. Logically, this brought us to imagine some of the world’s most renowned authors and pit them against each other in a Death Battle!
For our first week we have two fantasy writers who have mastered world building and captured the hearts of readers of all ages. Two contemporaries, two friends, two fathers of fantasy, today we have J.R.R. Tolkien versus C.S. Lewis!
Whose literary legacy has stood the test of time best? Let’s find out.
1-The Writing Style
Who has more description? Who’s the wordsmith with the power to transport you to a new world?
Image Via CNN Belief Blog
On one hand we have C.S. Lewis. We all have a picture of Narnia in our head, but how wide ranging is it?
Image via An Sionnach Fionn
On the other hand we have J.R.R. Tolkien. Known as the master of world building for a reason. Even in the childish novel The Hobbit, he paints glorious descriptions of not just good, but also evil, so our little dwarves and a certain hobbit have a challenge ahead of them.
My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!
Get the picture?
By the time we get to the The Silmarillion, Tolkien hasn’t leveled down in his powers of description.
Sauron has become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.
THEN LEWIS JUMPS BACKWARDS! We got The Horse and His Boy, a book which takes place during the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Then he writes The Magician’s Nephew, in which he goes back even further with this prequel to the beginning of the whole series. The next book is the last in the series, The Last Battle, and thankfully he’s done.
Image Via Amino Apps
When first published, the books were not numbered. The first American publisher, Macmillan, enumerated them according to their original publication order, while some early British editions specified the internal chronological order. When Harper Collins took over the series rights in 1994, they adopted the internal chronological order.
Well, that’s confusing, and it’s not just me saying that. Some scholars note the line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the all powerful narrator says that, “None of the children knew who Aslan was, any more than you do”—which is stupid if one has already read The Magician’s Nephew.
Let’s face it, that line exists because Lewis didn’t know he would ever write a prequel, but it creates confusion over the order of which this series is suppose to be read. What order should we read these books?
Confusion, confusion, confusion.
Image Via Washington Examiner
Then we have Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit in 1937, and the famous trilogy in 1954 and 1955. That’s a long wait, Mr. Father-of-Fantasy. Granted he wrote a largely unrevised version of The Silmarillion at the same time, but his publishers didn’t want to publish it. The Silmarillion eventually came out years after his death in 1977 and it’s so big that that book should be registered as a lethal weapon.
Tolkien explains the Silmarillion / Image Via Biography.com
So even though I don’t like how The Silmarillion jumps back in time, I can live with it. At least he doesn’t jump back in time again, like a certain man named C.S. Lewis.
Score one for Tolkien!
Image Via Popular Science
3-ability to welcome new readers
How are these books for new readers? Well, I’m not going to count the linear timeline of publishing against Lewis (I already did that) because you can put The Chronicles of Narnia and the Middle Earth books in chronological order.
With that out of the way, how do they stack up for new readers?
Well, Narnia stays consistent in tone. Challenging, exciting, but still suitable for kids. But Tolkien’s Middle Earth series doesn’t stay consist. The Hobbit, the book that introduced this hypothetical me to the series, is greatly different from The Lord of the Rings. Yes, I know Tolkien’s kids grew up with the series, but kids today aren’t going to get that. Picture this:
Kid picks up The Hobbit
Kid is happy
Kid then picks up the sequel, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Kid wets himself.
Plus, Lewis’s books are shorter and they are complete stories. There! I said it. Yes, The Hobbit is a complete story, but tonally it’s more similar to this:
Whereas The Lord of the Rings is more like this:
Then imagine if a new reader, who has never heard of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings gets their tiny hands on TheSilmarillion. Describe to me the plot of TheSilmarillion in three, two, one…
No, saying ‘it’s a collection of stories’ isn’t a plot summary, it’s an excuse. Yes, the descriptions are beautiful, yes, it fills out Middle Earth, but a new reader, a young reader, isn’t going to fall in love with it the way they did with The Lords of the Rings or The Hobbit, while a new reader can fall in love with The Horse and His Boy just as much as a new reader can fall in love with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
TheSilmarillion is for fans of Middle Earth, which can turn a new reader off if they pick it up first—assuming they can manage to pick it up.
Score one for Lewis!
Image Via Sports Illustrated
4-Influence on Pop Culture
Image Via The Inclusion Solution
Lord of the Rings brought about a great trilogy that changed the face of movie making (possibly for the worse). More than that, the books have been adapted many times over for radio, video games, animation, and will be brought to television thanks to Amazon. The book series has also made a huge impact on music and pop culture. Several musical artists, including legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath, are known to have songs inspired by the fantasy epic. A number of parodies were also created such as the VeggiTales children’s cartoon episode, “Lord of the Beans,” showing how much Tolkien’s books have influenced not just fantasy nerds, but everyone who has come across it.
As far as films go, Narnia came to the big screen later on as a Lord of the Rings rip off. However, the book has a number of adaptations as well. Three times, The Chronicles of Narnia was brought to TV screens in the United Kingdom, and there will be a fourth when Netflix releases theirs. Narnia has also made it to the stage and radio a number of times. With music there is a great deal of inspiration from the books, mainly from Christian artists. As far as any pop culture influences, The Chronicles of Narnia was referenced in the adult comedy Epic Movie, aside from that, there are very few if anymore.
Fundamentally, Narnia is more influenced by things than it has influence.
Lord of the Rings draws from plenty of lore but creates an entirely new world, magical systems and all, while Narnia is greatly influenced by Christianity.
See the connection!
Image Via Image Via Dick’s Sporting Goods
5-Impact On the Real World
You have to hand it to Tolkien, the man created an entirely new language. That’s creative genius taken to a whole new level, and it has impacted the way we think of world-building in any kind of storytelling—ranging from writing novels to creating stories for Dungeons & Dragons.
However, Lewis also continues to have a great effect in people’s lives. As a man of Christian faith, his writing speaks to the religion and therefore those who follow it. In fact, Lewis’s name has become so big in the Christian community there is an entire foundation in his name. The C.S. Lewis Foundation is a nonprofit aiming to restore vital Christian presence throughout higher education, the arts, and the culture at large—they also have an annual retreat, where members meet to engage mind, spirit, and imagination in the tradition of C.S. Lewis.
Image Via Image Via Pioneer Athletics
Winner: J.R.R. Tolkien!
Now, how would this death battle play out in their fantasy world turfs, you ask? Hold my Turkish delight.
An invitation started the whole farce. If it weren’t for the fact that they were such close friends, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien would not have answered to the call.
“My old friend, there is much that I have to discuss with you,” says Clive Staples Lewis.
They meet in an open field of green. A lush forest just beyond the two men approaching each other on horseback with awkward smiles.
After all the formalities and “How are you”s are through, out comes the truth.
Lewis sighs as he slowly reaches into his greatly oversized red, satin bag, “I’m afraid that, friendships aside, I’m going to have to put an end to things. To you I mean.” Swinging out a thin but piercing gold sword, Lewis attacks Tolkien in a flash. It is the sword, Rhindon.
Tolkien, with his army training coming back to him, jumps back in shock, and just barely misses being grazed by the sharp point. Upon realization that pleading with Lewis is futile, Tolkien leaps onto his steed, making way into the forest. Lewis follows on his horse, carrying Rhindon as well as a shield to protect him from harm.
Through a thicket in the forest, Lewis loses sight of Tolkien. Only a horse remains at the bottom of a large, rock incline. Lewis dismounts his horse, eyes shifting left and right for his foe, when all of a sudden an arrow flies swiftly into his sword bearing arm.
Tolkien rushes out from beyond the trees carrying a bow and several arrows, firing with great speed and intensity. Lewis, though in great pain, moves toward Tolkien, blocking every arrow with his shield. To Tolkien’s dismay, Lewis’ advances succeed, and standing before him stabs Tolkien with Rhindon.
Tolkien falls to the ground. Lewis relieved, falls himself to rest his weary body, dropping his sword and shield before him.
After pulling the arrow out of his arm, Lewis grabs from his petticoat Queen Lucy’s Cordial, and lets out a relieved sigh. However, that relief fades as soon as he sees Tolkien rising from his assumed fallen state. Tolkien makes his way towards Lewis, intensity in his eyes and a golden ring in his hand.
Shocked cold Lewis shouts, “But how? I stabbed you with Rhindon!”
Tolkien scoffs, “What can I say, I was thinking ahead.” The man opens his shirt, revealing a Mithril shirt. “I’m always about the smallest details after all.”
As Tolkien charges at Lewis, Lewis haphazardly pours the healing solution onto his wounded arm. With fervor, he reaches for his sword to strike at Tolkien, but when he finally reaches towards it, Tolkien vanishes yet again.
Using the corruptible power of the One Ring to Rule them all, Tolkien vanishes, sneaking behind Lewis for a sneak attack punch and then vanishes. Lewis catches onto where the ring-bearer is, following his footprints. Slashing Tolkien indiscriminately he knocks him down again. Knowing that the ring won’t fool him any more, Tolkien takes off the ring, returning back to visibility. In pain, Tolkien crawls up the rock incline. Heaving in his breath, Lewis follows.
Preparing his sword for one final blow, Lewis follows Tolkien to the very top of the rock.
Tolkien cries, “Why you? We have been friends for so many years! What is it that you hope to achieve?”
“You have it right in your hand”, Lewis grins.
Tolkien looks to the Ring. Possessed by its call. Gripping it tighter, he shakes his head. “The Ring is mine to bear.”
“Then here you will die,” Lewis exclaims.
As he pulls back his sword, the Earth begins to shake beneath the two men. From far into the forest, a glowing green light moves steadfast toward Tolkien and Lewis.
The Dead Men of Dunharrow come charging to protect their creator, Tolkien. From the other end of the forest comes Aslan to protect Lewis from harm. But alas, the Dead Men of Dunharrow are ghosts and can flow through anything at will. Aslan is left useless in protecting his creator, and Lewis is knocked down the rock and plummets with a painful landing.
While Aslan battles the Dead Men, some of the others help Tolkien up, giving him Elvish bread to retain his strength.
Tolkien makes his way to Lewis, who is still on the ground in pain. The Dead Men provide Tolkien with the Legendary sword, Andúril, as Aslan reaches his end against the Dead Men. Tolkien raises Andúril, and ends Lewis with one final blow.
Nominate which literary juggernauts should go at it next in the comments!
Tolkien and Lewis were both in residence at Oxford for many years, studying and teaching both. They were also close friends, even though they disagreed on almost everything. Sure, they had a shared interest in language, and in what we now call fantasy, but they disagreed on religion, and on the tones of their books. There are also a lot of stories about their friendship, few confirmed, but all amazing. Here are our favorites!
1. The Lamppost
Image via Dissolve
There’s a story that says Lewis specifically put the lamppost in Narnia because Tolkien said a good fantasy story would never have one. The sheer pettiness. What an icon. No fantasy story would have a lamppost? Well this one does! Please, TELL Lewis what his story can have. There’s no slowing him down. A lesson in spite we should really all take to heart.
Image via IOL
Tolkien was, as well as being a linguist and historian, quite Catholic, and Lewis found his philosophical suggestions appealing, becoming religious himself. Tolkien didn’t get what he wanted, though, because though Lewis became more religious, he was Protestant, and Tolkien didn’t at all appreciate how much religion was in Lewis’ books. Kinda played himself.
3. The Draft
Image via The Creative Penn
Apparently when Lewis first read his draft of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to Tolkien and a croup of friends, Tolkien hated it. He thought it was terrible and combined too many mythologies. He wanted more consistent world building, and I don’t have a good source for this, but I’ve heard he even told Lewis to stop writing.
Once upon a time, we reported that Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton, had attended the opening at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and joined AOL’s In The Know for a game of ‘Fact or Fanfiction?’ and, in the standout moment from the Q and A, Tom Felton was asked: What did he think of Draco’s relationship to Harry Potter?
Image Via Redbubble
Now anyone with even a passing glance to the franchise would see Draco and Harry a simple rivalry, a tale for the ages, but Tom Felton said, I’m quoting AOL here, “Harry was constantly crushing on Draco…He just couldn’t hide it.”
Let’s look at the facts:
Draco and Harry do definitely have some tension going on.
Image Via Youtube
With this in mind we’ve decided to give you, dear readers, twelve literary couples that happened in an alternative universe. Taking twenty-four characters from all across literature, from different book series to classic standalone novels (copyright be damned!), we’ve compiled these characters into eleven distinct (and surely steamy) relationships that would have totally worked out…for the characters, at least. Trust us, we’re chemists here.
No more sparkling vampires, now Twilight‘s Bella Swan is getting an upgrade. Let’s face it: There’s a reason Bram Stoker called this novel Draculaand not Harker. Dracula’s got style, he’s got nice clothes, he’s not charm oozing from everyone pore.
Image Via Pinterest
Heck, if Bella says “No, I’m married” then I’m asking Dracula out to get a nice love bite.
Far before Twitter decided to give us the #givecaptainamericaaboyfriend fan campaign, we had the comic books. See Bucky died, Steve Rogers became a Commie smasher, and then the Commie smasher was retconned, and then the real Steve Rogers was thawed out from the ice.
Image Via The Mary Sue
But Bucky remained dead, and Steve was inconsolable in his grief over his best friend and partner in crime throughout the decades of Captain America comics. In fact, it was one of the most foremost elements of his character
Fans looked at this and took the small hop and believed that Steve’s profound sense of loss than met the eye
So Bucky came back. In fact, he came back as the Winter Soldier in a comic book called The Winter Soldier, and ever since then we’ve been clamoring for Steve and Bucky to get a little closer.
They’re perfect for each other. The two buddies have been with each other since the beginning and will continue to stay together “until the end of the line”. They’re both “men out of time” from 1930s Brooklyn and are war buddies with great rapport who totally get along. They have so much in common.
At least go on a date and see if there’s anything there.
We have Peter Pan‘s Captain Hook, and this man has been through a lot. Yes, he’s trying to track down and kill Peter Pan like he’s an animal, but Peter Pan is an animal! This boy cut off his hand and fed it to a crocodile. Wicked, evil, and savage beyond belief.
Gregory ‘The Man with the Pecks’ Peck as Captain Ahab / Image Via The Guardian
Then we have Moby Dick‘s Captain Ahab who, like James Hook, wants to track down an animal whose savaged ships of all sorts.
But would they be searching for these monsters if they had, you know, found each other? Could their killer eyes turn into ones of passion and love if they only looked into each other’s eyes?
We here at Bookstr call out in a resounding, ‘YES!’
Charles Dickens’ gave us Great Expectations, which us the tragic story of Miss. Havisham. Left at the altar as a young lady, she has preserved her house as it was on her wedding day and lived there ever since, shut away from the world. She has a heart of gold, but no one has treated it well.
Look at those sultry eyes/Image Via Pinterest
Harper Lee gave us To Kill A Mocking Bird, which introduced the world to Boo Radley. Our Boo has lived in a house since he was a child, hidden from the world, but he has a heart of gold, giving young Scout a jacket on a cold autumn day.
If these two shut-ins have closed their doors to the world, would they open their doors for each other? Boo Radley most certainly wouldn’t leave Miss. Havisham at the altar, and Miss. Havisham wouldn’t let our precious Boo feel unwelcomed.
Now this pairing might not be great for the world at large, but they would be great for each other. Both live in fantasy world, the authors who created them were in real life great friends, and both crave ultimately power.
While both skilled in the powers of magic, it wouldn’t take magic to get these two working side by side.
Image Via Denver Post
Imagine it: the White Witch would kill all the lions and the hero in the land, freezing them in ice just in time…
Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchiogrows every time he lies, and he’s made of wood, so lie a few times and cut off the excess, and Voldemort doesn’t have to be called He-Who-Must-Not-Have-A-Nose.
Image Via Harry Potter Wiki – Fandom
Yes, Voldemort is a racist and a tyrant who thirsts for power more than a camel thirsts for water, but Pinocchio isn’t the pinnacle of innocence. After all, there’s a reason he’s cursed to have his nose grows every time he lies.
Plus, if he and Voldemort got together, Pinocchio can use his nose for…
Prince Eric isn’t a good fit for Hans Christie Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. He has legs, Ariel is half-fish, and if she gets together with him then she has to abandon her family. That’s a bad move, Ariel.
Aw, he’s holding him / Image Via Pinterest
But if she wants to take a walk on the wild side and still remain in the ocean, she can always go with the shark from Peter Benchley’s Jaws. Call him what you will (I call him Bruce, but others have called him Jaws or Sharkie or even Craig), but he knows his way around the wide ocean and can show Ariel a whole new world under the sea.
Ah, they always say there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but at least these two fish found each other. Maybe that’ll be the new plot for the new Disney remake!
Mrs. Robinson from Charles Webb’s 1963 novella The Graduate is trapped in a loveless marriage. She’s only married to her husband because she got pregnant and needed to avoid a scandal, and thus she hooks up with young Benjamin Braddock. But Benjamin is only into her because he’s bored. He doesn’t love her.
Image Via Study.com
Oedipus from the seminal play Oedipus Rex has a thing for older women. Yes, he didn’t know he was married to his mom, but she was still older than him. So maybe we can avoid the whole I-gotta-pluck-out-my-eyes thing and just have Oedipus meet up and see where things go with Mrs. Robinson. She’s old enough to be his mom, and that should be enough for dear old Ed.
This goes beyond the fact that ‘Katniss’ kind of, sort of, sounds like ‘cat’ and the Cheshire Cat is, well, a cat.
Image Via Scoopnest
For one, Katniss from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games never really loved Peta. Two, Cheshire Cat from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland knows his way around the block and would have helped her big time before, during, and after those pesky Hunger Games.
Plus, the Cheshire Cat is funny, and you know what they say….