Twists on Classic Tales

I found books by Mary Renault on a library shelf when I was in high school, and they inspired a love of books based on mythology. The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea flesh out the story of Theseus who kills the Minotaur on Crete. Here are some other, more recent, novels based on myths or on works by Homer or Virgil.

The King Must Die by Mary Renault         The Bull From the Sea by Mary Renault

Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin

House of Names by Colm Toibin

Ursula Le Guin is perhaps better known for her science fiction, including the children’s Earthsea series. In Lavinia, Le Guin weaves a story about a minor character who appears near the end of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid.

Clytemnestra, the wife of King Agamemnon is the protagonist of House of Names by Colm Toibin. Depicted in the Odyssey and the Iliad as a murderous mother in search of vengeance, Clytemnestra may evoke some sympathy when you’ve heard her side of the story.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller  Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller soared up the bestseller lists with her two stand-alone novels The Song of Achilles and Circe. Both books bring a deeper understanding to relationships found in the original works of Homer and show the dangers faced by those who dare to anger the gods.

The last three titles are all focused on the events of the Trojan War, but told from different perspectives. That’s what makes retellings so much fun!

Song of Kings by Barry Unsworth A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Rick Riordan Presents – An Update

I first wrote about the book imprint “Rick Riordan Presents” back in 2019. Since then, the publisher has continued to roll out a great collection of books for a middle school audience based on based on world mythologies that have not been fully represented in children’s literature. These books will appeal to the same kids who devoured the Percy Jackson series, but with a wider geographical reach. Here’s what Rick Riordan had to say about the publishing venture:

“Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!”

Here’s the Rick Riordan Presents list, so far:

By Roshani Chokshi (Hindu mythology): Book 4 is coming in April of 2021.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

By J.C. Cervantes (Mayan mythology)

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes The Fire Keeper by J. C. Cervantes The Shadow Crosser by J. C. Cervantes

By Yoon Ha Lee ( a stand-alone with ties to Korean mythology)

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

By Carlos Hernandez (Science-fiction with ties to Cuban mythology)

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

By Kwame Mbalia (African American folk heroes and West African gods)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

By Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo mythology)

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

By Tehlor Kay Mejia (based on the Mexican legend of the Crying Woman)

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

By Sarwat Chadda ( based on Mesopotamian mythology)

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

By Gracie Kim ( based on Korean mythology and coming in May 2021)

Rick Riordan Presents

Since 2005, the year The Lightning Thief was published, author Rick Riordan has enthralled young readers with his adventure stories based on characters interacting with mythological beings. The Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series focused on Greek mythology, the Kane Chronicles looked at Egyptian mythology, and the Magnus Chase series was based on Norse mythology. All of these books had kids running to library shelves to keep up with the newest adventure.

Riordan has now launched a new publishing venture known as “Rick Riordan Presents” with the goal of introducing readers to other authors who are writing mythology-based books for students. These books place the spotlight on some lesser-known mythologies  and have been selected to satisfy even the most ardent Percy Jackson fans.

Aru Shah and the End of Time introduces Hindu mythology. A sequel will be published in April of 2019.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Maya legends play a major role in Storm Runner by Jennifer Cervantes, with a sequel scheduled for September 2019.

Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

Dragon Pearl, the third “Rick Riordan Presents” title, was released this month and pulls themes and events from Korean legends.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Explore the richness of world cultures with these newest myth-based adventure stories!

The Iron Druid Series

Fans of Kevin Hearne are excited and heartbroken (if it is possible to be both) at the announcement of the final installment in the Iron Druid series. Fans of  mythology, talking Irish wolfhounds and great storytelling will love this series. It is set in our world (the first couple of books are set in Tempe, Arizona) where supernatural creatures exist, such as witches, vampires, werewolves, as well as gods and goddesses from various mythologies. The series is told in the first-person point-of-view of Atticus O’Sullivan (aka. Siodhachan O Suileabhain), a Druid who owns and runs an occult bookshop, Third Eye Books and Herbs, as he gets embroiled in the day-to-day struggle of gods and goddesses and other supernatural creatures. I have truly enjoyed this series. I will certainly mourn the loss of Atticus and his dog Oberon. Visit Kevin’s webpage at https://kevinhearne.com/ for more entertaining antics and info written by the dog.

The following open letter is from Kevin to his fans announcing SCOURGED:

Hey there, Spiffy Humans!

It’s a bit bewildering to be writing this letter to you. When I began writing Hounded in 2008, I had no idea that I was beginning a ten-year odyssey that would see the publication of nine Iron Druid novels, five novellas, and myriad short stories. I wrote Hounded to scratch several itches: the desire to present Irish paganism in more depth than a couple of its more popular goddesses, while simultaneously presenting all faiths as equally valid; to geek out about pop culture one moment and Shakespeare the next; speculate about what a long life would do to the psyche of humans and gods; and to indulge my boundless affection for doggies and their infinite appreciation of simple things.

I figure we could all stand to be reminded that simple pleasures are the best, and that’s part of the reason why Oberon the Irish wolfhound has become so popular. What’s not to like about sausage and gravy? Or poodles, for that matter. Belly rubs and naps. And maybe just a dash of conspiracy theory for drama, like the absolute fact that squirrels are most definitely planning to kill us all, and somewhere on the outskirts of Seattle, a scientist in a secret lab has created the Triple Nonfat Double Bacon Five-Cheese Mocha. Living in the present for such pleasures is the key to achieving a hound’s best life, and Oberon reminds Atticus that despite the trials of his past, much remains to be loved today-right now!-and we, too, could use a friend like him to point out that even in the midst of a rather rough world, there is still plenty in this moment to savor and cherish.

I certainly hope you’ll savor the last book of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Scourged, which wraps up many of the series’ long-running conflicts and leaves us with the possibility of revisiting the world later on. I’m currently working on two other series (The Seven Kennings and the Tales of Pell with Delilah S. Dawson), but there is room for further adventures should my schedule (and the Muses) allow. But this particular story arc with Atticus has been building to a head for a long while. Seeds of the final conflict and its resolution can be seen not only in the previous books, but in short stories like “The Chapel Perilous” that I originally wrote for an anthology, novellas like Grimoire of the Lamb, and most especially “Cuddle Dungeon,” a story I wrote for the Besieged collection.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to write these books and I thank you all for reading. May harmony (and sausage) find you.

Peace & whiskey,

Kevin Hearne