In the vast tapestry of storytelling, mythology and fantasy have intertwined threads, weaving tales that transcend time and culture. From the thunderous gods of Olympus to the valiant quests of Norse heroes, myths have been the lifeblood of human imagination, sculpting our understanding of the world and our place within it. In the realm of modern literature, fantasy novels inspired by these ancient tales have carved out a niche of their own, inviting readers to embark on journeys where mythical creatures come alive and age-old legends are retold with a contemporary twist. Join us as we traverse this magical landscape of mythology fantasy books, uncovering the allure and timeless appeal of mythology in the realm of fantasy fiction.
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Mythology Fantasy Books List
In the world of Mythology Fantasy books drawing upon tales as old as time, authors weave narratives that bridge the gap between the familiar and the fantastical. Thus transporting readers to worlds where gods mingle with mortals and heroes face trials of epic proportions. Whether it’s the rich tapestry of Greek legends or the intricate web of Norse sagas, these novels pay homage to their roots while reimagining them for a new generation. Below, we’ve curated a list of outstanding mythology-inspired fantasy books. Each one a testament to the timeless magic of age-old stories rekindled in modern flames. Dive in and discover a treasure trove of legendary tales reborn.
CIRCE – Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child. Not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power. The power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology. Including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods. Ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss. As well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
A storm is coming . . .
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home. An enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing. An epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. Book #1 in the NYT best-selling series, with cover art from the feature film, The Lightning Thief.
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights. And fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction. But assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
Ariadna – Jennifer Saint
Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?
Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic. One that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.
The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood
Penelope. Immortalised in legend and myth as the devoted wife of the glorious Odysseus, silently weaving and unpicking and weaving again as she waits for her husband’s return.
Now Penelope wanders the underworld, spinning a different kind of thread. Her own side of the story – a tale of lust, greed and murder.
Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon. Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures. Their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others. And their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
The Goddess Test – Aimée Carter
When Kate agrees to take the Goddess Test, she doesn’t know every girl who has taken it has died…
It’s always been just Kate and her mom, but now her mother is dying. Her last wish is to move back to her childhood home, so Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family, and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld, and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he’s crazy? Until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems amazingly possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride? And a goddess. But what Kate doesn’t know is that no one has ever passed the Goddess Test.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard – Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec
When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive national bestselling debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.
The Trials of Apollo – Rick Riordan
How do you punish an immortal? By making him human. After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favor. But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters, and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. From the creator of the hit Percy Jackson series.
The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.
Lore – Alexandra Bracken
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals. They are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory after her family was murdered by a rival line. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man—now a god—responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek her out: Castor, a childhood friend Lore believed to be dead, and Athena, one of the last of the original gods, now gravely wounded.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and a way to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to rejoin the hunt, binding her fate to Athena’s, will come at a deadly cost—and it may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
Starcrossed – Josephine Angelini
The passionate romance of Twilight meets Greek mythology in this dazzling debut about star-crossed demigods.
How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is – no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder.
Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood… and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together – and trying to tear them apart.
Hounded – Kevin Hearne
Atticus O’Sullivan is the last of the ancient druids. He has been on the run for more than two thousand years and he’s tired of it. The Irish gods who want to kill him are after an enchanted sword he stole in a first-century battle, and when they find him managing an occult bookshop in Tempe, Arizona, Atticus doesn’t want to uproot his life again. He just wants everything to end one way or another, but preferably the way in which he can continue to enjoy fish and chips.
He does have some small hope of survival: The Morrigan, the Irish Chooser of the Slain, is on his side, and so is Brighid, First Among the Fae. His lawyer is literally a bloodsucking vampire, and he has a loyal Irish wolfhound with opinions about poodles.
But he’s facing down some mighty enemies: Aenghus Óg, a vengeful Irish god, plus a coven of witches and even the local police. On top of all that, Aenghus has a direct line to the firepower of hell. Atticus will need all the luck of the Irish and more if he’s going to stay alive.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan
A captivating and romantic debut epic fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son. Mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream. Striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.
A Touch of Darkness – Scarlett St. Clair
She remembered the words she had whispered to him in the back of the limo after La Rose. “You will worship me, and I won’t even have to order you.” His request felt sinful and devious, and she reveled in it.
She answered, “Yes.”
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring in title only. Since she was a little girl, flowers have only shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hoped to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. All of that changes when she sits down in a forbidden nightclub to play a hand of cards with a hypnotic and mysterious stranger.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. But nothing has ever intrigued him as much as the goddess offering him a bargain he can’t resist.
After her encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead. And his terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows. A love that is both captivating and forbidden.
The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer’s epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life. Wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp. Concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman—and makes an ancient story new again.
The Wicked + The Divine – Gillen McKelvie & Wilson Cowles
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.
Other Genres To Try
For those entranced by the allure of mythology-inspired fantasy, the literary world is rife with genres that echo similar themes, atmospheres, and narratives. Venturing beyond this niche, readers can discover a wealth of tales that capture the spirit and imagination in much the same way. Here are some genres to consider if the blend of myth and fantasy resonates with you:
Historical Fantasy: This genre merges the factual elements of historical fiction with the magical realism of fantasy. If you’re drawn to the grounding elements of mythology that tie tales to particular cultures and eras, historical fantasy will whisk you away to beautifully realized past worlds imbued with a touch of the magical.
Epic Fantasy: Epics often involve intricate world-building, vast scopes, and grand sagas of good versus evil. If you relish the large-scale narratives of mythology, such as the Trojan War or the battles of the Norse gods, you’ll find a home within the pages of epic fantasy novels.
Fairy Tale Retellings: Much like the retelling of myths, fairy tale adaptations offer familiar stories with unique twists, often focusing on character depth, fresh perspectives, or darker undertones. Works by authors like Naomi Novik and Marissa Meyer fall under this category.
Urban Fantasy: If you’re intrigued by the idea of ancient myths colliding with the modern world, urban fantasy might be your next obsession. This genre often showcases mythical beings or magic existing in secret within our contemporary world.
Magical Realism: For those who appreciate the subtler, more symbolic aspects of myths, magical realism intertwines everyday life with understated magical elements. It often delves deep into human emotions, struggles, and relationships, painting them against a subtly fantastical backdrop.
Heroic Fantasy: Focusing on heroism, combat, and quests, heroic fantasy parallels many of the adventures found in ancient myths. These stories prioritize character development, valor, and the combatting of seemingly insurmountable odds.
In essence, while mythology fantasy books provide a unique blend of ancient tales and imaginative storytelling, numerous genres offer similar thematic journeys. Diversifying your reading can deepen your appreciation for the art of storytelling, showcasing how different genres echo the same timeless human desires, dreams, and dilemmas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best fantasy book ever?
Opinions vary, but “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien is frequently cited as one of the best fantasy books ever written.
Tolkien’s epic tale of Middle-Earth, hobbits, and the One Ring has had a profound influence on the fantasy genre and has been cherished by readers for decades.
Is fantasy the same as mythology?
No, fantasy and mythology are distinct. Mythology refers to a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition. Fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element.
While both can involve supernatural beings and settings, myths are often rooted in a culture’s beliefs and history, whereas fantasy is a product of pure imagination.
What fantasy books are worth reading?
Several fantasy books are renowned for their storytelling and world-building, including “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling, and “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan.
The right book often depends on individual tastes, but these series have garnered widespread acclaim and have a significant fanbase.
What is a feminist retelling of Greek mythology?
A feminist retelling of Greek mythology offers a reinterpretation of myths from a feminist perspective, often focusing on female characters and their experiences. “Circe” by Madeline Miller is a notable example.
“Circe” delves into the life of the witch Circe, showcasing her journey of empowerment in a world dominated by gods and men. This novel is acclaimed for its fresh take on a classic character and its exploration of womanhood and agency.
As we draw our exploration to a close, it’s evident that the fusion of mythology and fantasy remains an enduring source of fascination and inspiration. Whether we’re unearthing age-old legends or diving into new imaginative worlds, the intertwining of these genres offers a profound reflection on human nature, our fears, aspirations, and the tales we tell to make sense of the universe. In every mythology-inspired fantasy book lies a bridge—connecting the ancient to the modern, the known to the unknown. And as readers, we are granted the gift of walking this bridge, time and time again, with every page we turn.