The debut of American Gods, the television series based on the popular novel by Neil Gaiman is just around the corner. The show will focus on the adventures of Shadow Moon, a man who ends up assisting the god Odin as he gathers all the old gods living ordinary lives. It is a very unique and interesting premise, but American Gods wasn’t the first novel to feature mythological deities as key characters. Here are 5 books that offer a new spin on the lives of your favorite deities.
In Fifteen Dogs author Andre Alexis tells the story of two gods, Hermes and Apollo, having a round of drinks at a Toronto tavern and debating whether animals would be happier if they had human intelligence. Apollo believes that any animal would be even unhappier than humans with such a gift and is willing to back his statement with a year’s servitude if proven wrong. Hermes accepts and thus a group of dogs in a nearby clinic are gifted with human reasoning and language as the two deities observe the outcome.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is book one in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians saga and sees the protagonist being blamed for the theft of Zeus’s master lightning bolt. The tale is set in the modern era, but features a range of mythological characters and deities. The Lightning thief features a lead character who turns out to be the son of Poseidon, Mt. Olympus that can be accessed from an elevator in the Empire State Building and a brewing war between the Greek gods, so there is no shortage of intrigue.
Zephyr Mourning, the protagonist of Promise of Shadows by author Justina Ireland, finds herself serving an eternal sentence in Tartarus for the murder of an Aethereal. Zephyr had good reason for doing so, however, as her sister was murdered and she was trying to spare herself from a similar fate. Fortunately for Zephyr, she is a Harpy and one that has mastery over dark magic at that. This enables her to escape Tartarus along with a ragged group of other prisoners and go on a quest to take down the goddess Hera.
The Hammer and The Horn by Michael Jan Friedman is the first novel in the Vidar Saga and stars Vidar, the bastard son of Odin. As an immortal, Vidar left Asgard after its destruction during the Twilight of the Gods and instead chose to live on Earth. However, after centuries of roaming the lands, he discovers that Asgard has not only been rebuilt, but an imposter wearing Odin’s mask has stolen Thor’s hammer. In order to prevent the destruction of the gods’ home along with Earth, Vidar has to return to Asgard and face this new challenge.
Norse Code by author Greg van Eekhout puts a modern day scientific spin on Norse mythology. The novel features Kathy Castillo, who is brought back from the dead and given a sword along with a new name in order to serve in the Norse god’s army as a Valkyrie. She is tasked with the recruitment of soldiers for the upcoming war between the gods, but Kathy, now known as Mist, has a change of heart after a tragic accident. Along with the god Hermod, she ventures into the afterlife of Helheim in an attempt to prevent the apocalypse.