Recommendations: fantasy books featuring gods

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI love books that ruminate on humanity by way of talking about gods. Love, love, love it. So I figured, I should write about my favourite books that deal with this. I am writing this post as part of Wyrd & Wonder – a month-long celebration of the fantastic hosted by imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More, Lisa @ Dear Geek Place and Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story. You can sign up here!

The Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

It is no secret that I adore N. K. Jemisin’s writing – and her lesser known trilogy is no exception to this. Set in a world where after a war between the gods some of those gods are enslaved by humans and one is revered, her world building is as impeccable as ever and her characters are brilliant. Some of the main characters gods, some aren’t, all are compelling. She does not shy away from how otherworldly and often awful beings with near endless power could be and the books are better for it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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This is my favourite of Neil Gaiman’s books (although the Sandman graphic novels are a close second); I love everything about its sprawling plot and its integration of countless belief-systems. Shadow Moon is a brilliant main character to anchor the story and his acceptance of the strangeness around him worked exceedingly well for me.

 

The Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

This series is set in a world formerly ruled by Divinities and their whims – where even the laws of nature have been bent. Bulikov is far from its former glory as the centre of the world and the seat of the Gods – most of it was destroyed together with its Gods. It is now ruled by the very people it used to enslave.

I adored the mythology Bennet sets up here: what happens to all the things created by gods if they die? Especially when they ignored all natural laws to create those things? I find his world very well thought out and mesmerizing in its implications. Just thinking about these books make me giddy. I didn’t quite love the first book in his current trilogy but the ending made me VERY excited to see where the story goes next.

The Library of Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

26892110This stand-alone is a lot darker than most books I usually read, but with impeccable world-building and enough of a sense of the bizarre to be just my type of book. I adored how cleverly Hawkins sets up his readers and at least for me caught me totally unawares by the ending. I didn’t whole-heartedly love it – but I will still read anything he published next, if he ever does so, that is.

 

The Sixth World by Rebecca Roanhorse

I think I have been sufficently gushing about this series as of late – but I cannot help it, it is just perfect for the type of reader I am. I am very excited to see where it goes next and I love the glimpses of what I am assuming will be major themes going forward: the idea of agency in a world ruled by the whims of gods. That is just catnip for me.

I need to read more books like these; do you have any recommendations for me?

 

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20 thoughts on “Recommendations: fantasy books featuring gods

  1. I tried to read American Gods (after I read Good Omens) and couldn’t get into it. But I LOVED the Sandman series.

    I would add Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, but I can’t think of anything else that fits.

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    1. I read the first 100 pages or so of American Gods twice before I really got into it – this doesn’t sound like the best praise, but after that I just adored everything about it.
      Oh, Small Gods, of course – how could I forget that one. It is so brilliant!

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  2. You might like the copper cat trilogy by Jen Williams. It has some Gods and I love it.

    I really need to jump on the inheritance trilogy because I loved Broken Earth trilogy by her. AND since I loved Foundryside I have the first two divine cities books. Now to actually start reading them haha. Great list!

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation! I recently bought her The Ninth Rain – if I like her writing I am glad to hear she has a trilogy with gods.
      The Inheritance trilogy is wonderful, especially the first two books – but nothing will ever top the Broken Earth trilogy for me, I don’t think.
      I really hope you’ll get to The Divine Cities at some point – but I get you, there are just so very many books and not enough time!

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      1. I am currently reading The Ninth Rain for the wyrd and wonder readalong. Very interesting so far. 😀 I hope you’ll like it.
        I quite honestly have the second book of the inheritance trilogy but still need to get the first to start reading, lesigh. Story of my life.
        I hope so too. I need to get through my list of high tbr first and then hopefully this Fall.

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    1. Ooooh, Empire of Sand has gods? I have an arc of that but never got around to reading it (I fell of the arc reading waggon pretty bad and haven’t been able to get back on it). This makes me very happy to hear!
      Small Gods IS brilliant – I cannot believe I forgot about it. Especially given that I included American Gods and Gaiman and Pratchett so obviously influenced each other.

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      1. I think so! (Confess that I haven’t actually read it myself, but the premise of it does seem to be trying to keep vengeful gods quiet, and usually that kind of premise means they wake up…)

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  3. I’m under read in fantasy, but these all look interesting! Especially keen to check out Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy one day. I read The Fifth Season last year after coming across a copy by chance and loved it – hoping to read more of her work soon.

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    1. Jemisin is just such a treasure. I don’t think she can even write a bad book. The Inheritance trilogy was really great as well – although to be fair, it just ticks a lot of my specific boxes.

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    1. The Divine Cities trilogy is SO good! I love how Robert Jackson Bennett structures his sentences and his characterization is on point. The books feature a grumpy, silent, super strong man, one of my least favourite tropes, and he makes him interesting!

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  4. Have you encountered Carl Gustav Jung? His thoughts on archetypes are so illuminating as to why modern people remain in need of gods, despite the erosion of traditional religion; I think this has a lot to do with the current renaissance of fantasy and magical fiction.

    The book ‘Basic Writings of C. G. Jung’ is enough to get an idea of this. Jung might say we need the gods, because they remain alive in our collective unconscious. Worth considering too: which gods we project ourselves on to might affect us more than we care to think.

    Hannah

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    1. I haven’t read all that much of Jung’s writing, but I do know of him. I usually come at my theoretical thinking from a different angle though – so maybe I should check his writing out at some point. Thank you!

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