Tag: mythology

5 Fantasy Books Inspired By Chinese Mythology

Mythology remains one of the greatest sources of inspiration for fantasy literature, and literature in general, today. For me, stories that draw from mythologies that I am not overly familiar with encourage me to then seek out the tales and legends that inspired those books. That’s how I began to read Chinese mythology. There is a genuine beauty to the myths, and I truly can’t even begin to express how amazing some of these stories are.

Here are five books inspired by Chinese mythology.

1. “The Poppy War

image via amazon

R.F. Kuang’s first installation in her Poppy War series introduces Rin, a young orphan who managed to pass the Keju, a test that allows her to enter one of several academies for prodigal children. From there, she manages to enter Sinegard, a military school. However, because of her skin color, her gender, and her impoverished background, Rin is the target of her peers’ cruelty. The Poppy War follows Rin as she learns that she can harness the powers of shamanism, and with the help of one of her teachers, she learns that the deities that had fallen into legend do still exist. She is chosen by the Phoenix, a vengeful deity that may sap her of her humanity. With the third Poppy War on the horizon, the cost of winning that conflict may, indeed, be her humanity.

 

2. “The Dragon Warrior

image via goodreads

The Dragon Warriorwritten by Katie Zhao, follows Faryn Liu, a twelve-year old girl who wishes to honor her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. However, since their father disappeared, Faryn and her brother have been brushed off by the Jade Society, which has made Faryn’s dream a near impossible feat. Yet when she is caught in the middle of a conflict, it is revealed that Faryn is the Heaven Breaker, a being who can command an army of powerful dragons. She has until the Lunar New Year to prove her worth, but she will soon learn that the position she has found herself in requires a great deal more sacrifice than she had originally expected. This book is middle-grade fantasy, so it is meant to appeal to a younger audience; however, that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out if you’re interested!

3. “The Crystal Ribbon

image via amazon

Celeste Lim’s novel takes place in medieval China. The Crystal Ribbon follows Li Jing, the twelve-year old daughter of a poor tea farmer based in Huanan. Her family decides that, in order to survive, Li Jing must be married off. The money that her husband’s family gives her parents will help them live. The Koh family, one that Li Jing marries into, treats her poorly. She is expected to be the wife and nanny to her husband, Ju’nan, who is only three years old. When she is sold off once again, Li Jing runs away. With the aid of a spider and a nightingale, she makes her way back to Huanan. Be warned that this story does deal with themes of parental abuse and sexual violence.

 

4. “tiger’s apprentice

image via amazon

Laurence Yep‘s middle-grade fantasy The Tiger’s Apprentice follows young Tom Lee–a young boy who learns that he is the most recent addition to an ancestral line of guardians. His grandmother, a woman who has always been perceived as eccentric, has been the guardian of a phoenix egg for several years now. When she is killed protecting Tom, Tom must step in to become the egg’s protector. Tom gains a father figure in Mr. Hu, a talking tiger who can turn himself into a man. Other mythical beings from the Chinese zodiac, such as the monkey and the dragon, are also present in this story. This is a fast-paced and quick read, and it is definitely worth checking out!

5. “silver phoenix

image via amazon

Cindy Pon‘s Silver Phoenix is the first book in her ‘Kingdom of Xia’ series. This book follows Ai Ling, a woman who has not been viewed as marriageable, and she was content with this, because that meant she could not be hidden away in the quarters of a potential husband’s household. She slowly becomes more and more aware of her own inner powers–she has the ability to read people’s spirits. Chosen by immortal beings, she must enter the emperor’s palace to save her father and defeat the old evil that lies within. There are mystical creatures and goddesses packed into this tale, and it is definitely worth checking out! This books does contain themes of sexual harassment and an attempted assault scene, so please be aware of this if you give this book a read.

Featured image via Wallpaper Flare

 

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5 Books Inspired By Japanese Mythology and Folklore

My exposure to Japanese mythology and folklore actually began when I was in grade school. I started to read and excessive amount of manga, and through that, I took an interest in the folklore and mythos that inspired said stories. I still love the legends and stories, so this has definitely been an article long in the making.

Here are five stories inspired by Japanese mythology and folklore.

 

1. “Tales of moonlight and Rain”

image via goodreads

Tales of Moonlight and Rain, written by Ueda Akinari, was originally published back in 1776. This is a collection of nine gothic stories that, according to Goodreads: “alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon.” And that is absolutely all I need to pull me into this book. These stories features creatures straight from Japanese lore: demons, goblins, a revenant, and an array of ghosts. These stories pulls from both Japanese and Chinese lore to create beautifully eerie tales the one is sure to take an immense amount of interest in.

 

2. “shadow of the fox”

image via goodreads

 

The Shadow of the Fox is the first book in Julie Kagawa‘s Shadow of the Fox series. This story follows Yumeko, a girl who is half kitsune and half human. The word kitsune translates to fox, and it is believed in Japanese lore that foxes can transform into people. Kitsunes are known for being mischievious creatures, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Yumeko also embodies this trait. Yumeko has been raised by monks for the entirety of her life, but when those monks are killed, she must flee with the relic that they guarded whilst alive. She meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai, and they form an alliance in order to find the second half of the relic that Yumeko fled with. While they are searching, they are also pursued by an army of demons. This book was published by Teen Harlequin, so there will likely be some raunchy elements in this book.

 

3. “empress of all seasons”

image via goodreads

 

Empress of All Seasons, by Emiko Jean, follows Mari. Mari has been training for her entire life to become the empress of Honoku. Mari has a secret: she is a yōkai who can transform into a terrifying monster. If her true identity is discovered, her life will be forfeit. She teams up with Taro, the prince who does not wish to take the throne, and Akira, a half-yōkai. These three individuals will decide the fate of the nation of Honoku. It should be noted that this book does contain themes of sexual violence and abuse.

 

4. “red winter”

image via goodreads

 

Annette Marie‘s Red Winter is the first book of a trilogy. This story follows Emi, a kamigakari (a being who can host a spirit). In Emi’s case, she has spent her entire life preparing to host a goddess within her, uniting her mind, body, and soul with the deity. In all her time preparing, she had never once doubted herself or questioned her fate. Shiro is a yōkai, and the enemy of the goddess that Emi will soon merge with. He is put into a difficult situation when Emi saves his life, because until his debt is repaid, he must do as Emi asks of him. It is also Shiro who will place her in a situation where Emi begins to question her fate for the first time.

 

5. “Inuyasha: turning back time”

image via goodreads

 

This series is a classic, and I couldn’t write up this list without including it. Inuyasha: Turning Back Time was written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. This is a manga series that follows the adventures of Kagome, a young girl raised by her father and mother–who both maintain a shrine in contemporary Japan. Within the shrine itself is well that Kagome takes to transport herself from contemporary Japan to feudal Japan. Upon doing this for the first time, she learns that she is the reincarnation of a priestess named Kikyo. She meets Inuyasha, a half-demon/yōkai who, up until she freed him from his enchanted slumber. Together, Inuyasha and Kagome must travel across feudal Japan with their traveling party in search of a magical jewel’s fragments. When these shards are brought back together, the jewel will grant its wearer their heart’s desires. While there are moments where this manga can be raunchy, it is considered a classic. It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Featured image via Wallpaper Access

 


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5 Books Inspired By Celtic Mythology

Celtic mythology is, by far, one of my favorite things to discuss. Ever. I’ve spent a good chunk of the past two years studying and reading the myths and legends for my own personal research, and I’ve come away wanting to learn even more. The tales are beautiful and the mythical beings–be they deities or other magical creatures–are enthralling. Personally, I think one of the best way to share these myths and legends is through stories like the ones listed below. After all, intrigued individuals will seek out the source material, and they will be able to see what inspired the authors who borrowed from said material.

Here are five books inspired by Celtic mythology.

 

 

1. Daughter of the forest

image via goodreads

This is the first book in Juliet Marillier‘s Sevenwaters series. It should be noted that there is a very heavy romance component to these stories. I also want to add, for the individuals who need this note, that there is a sexual assault scene in this story. This series follows four generations of the Sevenwaters family, a family that has maintained a relationship with the people of the Otherworld–also known as the Fae. The Daughter of The Forest follows Sorcha, a member of the Sevenwaters family and the only daughter of Lord Colum. After his wife’s death, Lord Colum marries an enchantress who curses Sorcha’s brothers. She can only save her siblings by remaining silent as she carries out the will of the Fae and their Queen.  When Sorcha is kidnapped by enemies of her family, it looks like all hope is lost. Will she save her brothers? Read and find out…

2. Hounded

image via goodreads

This isn’t the first time that I have mentioned Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid Chronicles in a list. Hearne has a fun way of pulling from different mythologies and making the tales and characters dance together so well that I couldn’t resist putting Hounded on this list. The series follows Atticus O’Sullivan, the last living druid. Atticus runs an occult book shop in Arizona where he sells magic teas to his customers. A sword comes into the picture here, and it proceeds to set off a chain of events that Atticus gets involved in. This series is a blend of urban fantasy and mythology.

3. Heir of Fire

image via goodreads

Heir of Fire is the third book in Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass series–which is made up of eight books (if you include the novella collection). While Maas has made reference to the Fae and magic in the previous two books, readers get to read about them in more depth in this installment. Readers are introduced to Queen Maeve, a figure who has both mythical and historical roots. Maas also portrays a version of the Fae in both the first book of the series and the final book, and this version falls more into line with the tales that say that the Fae are small beings of nature. She also presents the image of the Fae as simultaneously being godlike while also being lords and ladies, which are portrayals that have also been attached to these beings as well. While there are, technically, two books before this one, this is where the story is truly set into motion.

 

 

4. The cruel prince

image via goodreads

Holly Black‘s The Cruel Prince, and the other books in The Folk of the Air series, has gained a great deal of attention. Our main character, Jude, was still a child when her parents were murdered and she and her siblings were captured by the Fae. Though she was captured by them, Jude still wants to be a part of the Faerie court. In this book, Jude learns that she has the capacity for trickery–a trait that the Fae often possess and can be observed using in tales and myths. Ultimately, Jude will have to put her life on the line to protect her sisters.

5. Lament: The faerie queen’s deception

image via goodreads

Maggie Stiefvater‘s book Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception follows Deirdre Monaghan, a young musician who can see faeries. A faerie soldier and a faerie assassin are tracking Deirdre, and their goal is to kill her before her music can attract the attentions of the Fae and weaken the Faerie Queen’s authority over her people. In Irish lore, the Fae would sometimes kidnap mortals who were musically gifted, and this could lead to a number of things happening to the human–sometimes the human would be forced to remain with the Fae forever, and that was one of the kinder fates awaiting said person.

Featured Image Via Get Wallpapers

 

 


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5 Books Inspired by Norse Mythology

Norse mythology is definitely a favorite for many people, and I think we can see why. We have some fantastic deities, like Loki and Thor, who have appeared in comic book serializations for decades now. We have myths that are hilarious enough to hold our attentions. I’m thinking of the Mead of Poetry in particular (a myth that Neil Gaiman retells in his book Norse Mythology). Frankly, these are myths that draw us in because of how epic and enthralling they are in their scope and storytelling. We have warrior gods and goddesses, jötunns, elves, and dwarves – to name but a few.

So it’s only natural then that some authors would refer back to this mythos for inspiration.

Here are five books inspired by Norse mythology.

 

 

 

1. The gospel of loki

 

image via goodreads

Written by Joanne M. Harris, this is the first book in her Loki series which, you guessed it, follows Loki, the trickster god. If anyone is interested, Harris also has a book series simply called Runemarks, which plays with Norse mythology and retells it in a fun, modernized way. The Gospel of Loki retells how the trickster god was recruited by Odin and how he is treated by the other Asgardians. Plus, to make this story even more appealing, it is told from Loki’s sarcastic, snarky point of view.

 

2. Hilda and the troll

 

image via goodreads

You might be familiar with the Netflix adaptation of this adorable graphic novel. Written and illustrated by Luke Pearson, Hilda and The Troll follows Hilda, a young girl who loves to explore and befriend mythical creatures with some distinct Norse roots. She eventually moves to Trollberg, a human city, with her mother, but her adventures only continue in the cityscape with her new friends. The artwork is beautiful and the story is absolutely endearing. While this series is definitely geared towards younger audiences, I am of the mind that all ages can enjoy it. After all, there are little elves, trolls, moving mountains, talking crows, and so much more.

 

3. The Long dark tea-time of the soul

 

image via goodreads

Typically, I try to keep most of the books on lists like these to more recent publications that may not have gotten a great deal of attention. However, Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is one of those writers who definitely needs a place on this list. This is the second book in Adams’ Dirk Gently series, which has also recently been adapted into a television series. Dirk Gently is a detective who doesn’t just handle the possible, but also the impossible and improbable. In The Long Dark Tea-Time of The Soul, it comes to Dirk’s attention that a passenger check-in desk at Heathrow airport has disappeared into a ball of light. This is being perceived as an act of god, but this then begs the question: which god?

 

 

4. Hammered

 

image via goodreads

Just to preface, this is the third book in Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid series. There are several novels and novellas, and this series is most certainly the gift that keeps on giving in my not-so-humble opinion. These stories follow Atticus O’Sullivan, the last druid who has relocated to Arizona where he runs a bookshop and sells magic teas. Hammered portrays Thor, the god of thunder, as a bully who has ruined lives and killed many. Now, Atticus’ vampire viking friend, Leif Helgarson, enlists the druid to help him get revenge on Thor. This story involves an army of frost giants and battle with the forces of Asgard… with plenty of other pantheons and other mythologies joining the fray.

 

5. the blood-tainted winter

 

image via goodreads

Written by T.L. GreylockThe Blood-Tainted Winter follows Raef Skallagrim, a man who wants to set sail on the ocean, following the sea road. He and his crew wish to be famous and recognized by the gods themselves. Yet Raef’s father and an impending war make it so that Raef must set his dream to the side and answer the call of duty. He must learn to navigate the tides of war while also seeking out revenge. Yet in the end, this will be a war that affects even the gods. This is the first book in The Song of The Ash Tree series.

 

 

Featured image via Deposit Photos


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5 Books Inspired By Greek Mythology

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:

 

 

1. Circe

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Madeline MillerCirce 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

 

image via goodreads

 

Great Goddesses is a collection of poems written by Nikita Gill, who is known for her poetry collections Fierce Fairytales and Wild Embers. Applying a feminist’s lens to these old myths and legends, Gill presents a new rendition of Greek mythology. As stated by this collection’s Amazon page:

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.

 

 

3. AntiGoddess

 

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.

 

Cover Image via Newsela

 

 


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