Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: December 2014

monthlyru16

Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

December 2014

Last month I read a total of thirteen books: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little, Moriarty (New Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony Horowitz, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, Seraphina (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman, Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis, The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan, Revival by Stephen King, The Slow Regard Of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss, Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix and Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard.

My standout books for the month were definitely Revival by Stephen King, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I have a review of Revival coming up so I won’t talk about it now, but Seraphina caught me totally by surprise. I also really loved Amy Poehler’s Yes Please – I have so much love and respect for her. It was also fantastic to finally start The Dark Tower series by Stephen King!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. The challenge is now over, and I earned a total of ninety-four points for my team! There is now a DC vs. Marvel Challenge for 2015.
  • I read 135 books towards my Goodreads goal, and managed to complete it – my goal was 120!

 

Currently reading:

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

How was December for you?

Advertisements
Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #17: Mythology in Fantasy

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: mythology in fantasy.

It’s no secret that I love mythology. I just find it absolutely fascinating, no matter the culture. One of my focuses at university was ancient Greek religion, and I also wrote my dissertation on the Graeco-Egyptian god Serapis. So today I want to share some fantasy books that are based on or inspired by mythology. Some are set in their respective countries, others are more modern takes, and some invent their own mythology! I also plan on doing a post on various mythological creatures that appear in fantasy in the future.

I found LOADS of books based on Greek mythology, as well as Arthurian legend, but it was quite tricky finding ones based on Egyptian mythology, as most books based on Egypt were ‘historical’ fiction. I say ‘historical’ because the ancient sources and evidence from Ancient Egypt are a lot less concrete than say, the Tudor period.

I also found barely any books based on Roman mythology that weren’t, once again, historical fiction (this time without the speech marks, Romans wrote a lot more down!) – lots of Roman mysteries out there! – but I think that’s because Greek and Roman mythology are very closely entwined. The Romans took a lot of their myths and legends from the Greeks, albeit with different names – and when people talk about the gods they tend to use the Greek names. For example, Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon but he would be the son of Neptune if we were talking about it in terms of Roman mythology. So for this reason, I’ve grouped them together.

Greek & Roman Mythology:

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell Ilium by Dan Simmons King of Ithaca by Glyn Iliffe The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Heroes of Olympus series and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan tell a modern day story of teenagers who discover they are demi-gods. The first focuses on the Roman gods, and the second Greek – implying that the pantheons are totally separate. I absolutely love Rick Riordan’s books, they’re just so much fun and are PERFECT for fans of mythology. David Gemmell’s Troy series is as it sounds – an account of the Trojan War, told from multiple viewpoints. I’ve had the trilogy for years and still haven’t gotten round to reading it… Ilium is the first book in a duology by Dan Simmons, a sci-fi/fantasy account of the Trojan War set on Mars. I loved Simmons’ Hyperion series, and The Iliad is one of my favourite classics, so I need to hurry up and read this one. King of Ithaca by Glyn Iliffe is the tale of Odysseus before the Trojan War – I read this one a few years ago and really enjoyed it. And oh, The Song of Achilles, you beautiful, beautiful book. Madeline Miller has written a haunting love story from the point of view of Patroclus, a Greek prince. Read it and cry.

Egyptian Mythology:

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove

Yep, Rick Riordan has not only written about Greek and Roman mythology, but Egyptian too. His Kane Chronicles tell the story of two siblings with an archaeologist father, who discover that the Egyptian gods are real – and are pretty angry. I haven’t read this series but going on Riordan’s other writing, I really need to. Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White is a book that I spotted on another blog a while ago and promptly forgot about until researching books for this post. It follows a girl who is the human daughter of Isis and Osiris – and the cover is just gorgeous. The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove is another interesting sounding book – it works on the premise that all gods are real – or rather were, until the Egyptian pantheon defeated them all. They now have control over the Earth.

Arthurian Legend:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

A true Arthurian epic, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon is told through the eyes of several women in Arthur’s court. There are actually seven books to the series, the last three finished by a different author, and the first book alone clocks in at just over one thousand pages. The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell takes a slightly different take on the familiar story, told after Arthur has been banished from his own kingdom, and Merlin has disappeared. And finally, Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper is, unlike the other two books, a children’s tale about siblings who discover clues to finding the Holy Grail. I remember reading this when I was younger, but unfortunately I don’t remember a lot about it!

Norse Mythology:

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson Ice Land by Betsu Tobin

Joanne Harris’ The Gospel of Loki is a wonderful retelling of Norse legend, from the point of view of the trickster god Loki. With his tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, he recounts many familiar tales of Scandinavian mythology. The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson follows not Loki, nor any of the other gods, but a human man named Scafloc who must make deals with the ice giants in order to save himself, others and the gods. Now I have to admit when looking for books to fit into with Norse mythology, I was immediately drawn to Ice Land by Betsy Tobin by its gorgeous cover. It’s an epic quest to save the land sort of story, infused with Icelandic history and mythology.

Other:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman The Alchemyst by Michael Scott Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene

By ‘other’, I mean completely made-up mythology for the sake of literature, not based on one particular pantheon. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is one such example. I want to read this one so badly, Gaiman’s writing is just outstanding and it comes very highly recommended! Whilst the life of Nicholas Flamel is not one of mythology, there are many rumours of his being a legendary alchemist that many stories, including The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I got this book as a freebie from BristolCon last year, and it has a pretty high Goodreads rating. Unfortunately the author’s name always reminds me of The Office and makes me giggle… And finally, Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene is a new release from Hodder (who ever so kindly sent me a copy!), and features a story of gods reborn as humans. I’m so excited to read this one, so I’m hoping to do so before I go off to university.

Do you have any recommendations for fantasy based on mythology? Do you have a particular favourite branch of mythology or legend? There are so many more books I could have listed, but I just didn’t have enough time!

Past Features

Weekly Roundup #22

weeklyru_16

My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.
 

From the library

  • Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island by Mike Tucker – I love this show, in case you hadn’t noticed. Any time I spot a new Doctor Who book in the library, I grab it. This is a Ten/Rose one, but I’d like to read some Ten/Donna or Eleven/Amy!
  • The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan – I’ve already read and reviewed this one! You can read my review here.
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman – the font on the spine drew me in, somehow… I barely even read the blurb before adding it to my pile, but it’s had some decent reviews from my Goodreads friends.
  • Binu and the Great Wall by Su Tong – if you hadn’t already guessed from my review of The Son of Neptune, I love mythology. I don’t know much about Chinese myths, so I thought it would be interesting to pick up this retelling of one.
 

What new books do you have to read this week?

Review

Review: The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan

9520360.jpg
4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
Rick Riordan has done it again. He has created another wonderful series – although this is admittedly more of a ‘spin off’ of the first Percy Jackson series – based on ancient mythology. This time round, it’s the turn of ancient Rome.

 

Of course, Rome borrows heavily from ancient Greece in its mythology, so there isn’t much strictly ‘new’. But Riordan uses the idea cleverly – just like Camp Half-Blood, the camp for Greek demigods, there is a Camp Jupiter, for Roman demigods. Both camps are completely unaware of each other – until now. And just like between the ancient Greeks and Romans, there is animosity. For someone like me, who loves ancient mythology (I studied it quite a bit at university, my dissertation was based around an ancient Graeco-Egyptian god), this series has everything.

It was exciting to see the entwining of the two cultures, and Riordan showcases their similarities and differences very well. It was also fun to meet ‘familiar’ figures and see them brought to life by someone who has clearly done extensive research on the legends of ancient Rome, as well as the military and politics. I was really impressed by Riordan’s use of knowledge of ancient Rome to create Camp Jupiter, but after the first series I would not expect any less of him!

I actually picked this one up thinking it was the first book in the second series, when in actual fact it is number two – but I was not hindered at all by having not read the first one. Percy has memory loss for much of this book, and I believe that most of the first one is about another character who is mentioned in this one. All necessary back story was explained very well, without dumping information.

Unlike the first Percy Jackson series, this one switches point of view – it flicks between Percy and his two new companions, Frank and Hazel. Frank is new to Camp Jupiter, having only been there for a few weeks before Percy arrives. He is unsure of his parentage, and it was fun trying to guess who his father was, and other factors about his family history. For a kid’s book, it can really test the reader on their knowledge of mythological figures! Hazel has been at the camp for a while longer, and is equally as mysterious although her story gets cleared up a little sooner. I thought both new companions were well-rounded, and it was nice to have different points of view – as well as a story written in third person, rather than first person like the previous series.

Although the age on the back of the book says ‘9+’, I really feel that Rick Riordan’s stories are for all ages. Like Harry Potter, it’s a ‘childrens’ book that is so well-written and fun that you feel drawn into the action, whatever your age. I’m also excited to see that he has written a series based on ancient Egypt, and will be keeping a look out for that, as well as the rest of the books in the series!