Mythic Fiction discussion

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Favorite Mythic Theme

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message 1: by Aeryne, Group Creator (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new)

Aeryne (lissaring) | 1 comments Mod
Since I really can't think of anything else to post here (and hoping actually having a discussion post will encourage people to join and post) until there are more people discussing, what mythic themes do you find yourself most attracted to when picking out a book to read? Or that you write about yourself?

For me, I find myself loving topics more along the lines things in the woods, monsters and gods that hide in the woods. Having grown up living with Oregon forests just beyond my back door, I think I just naturally gravitate towards them. It definitely comes out in my art.

Lately when I write I almost always go for dreams and what might happen in dreams. I've even been recording and drawing from the more interesting of my dreams for material.


message 2: by Michele (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Michele | 1 comments I really enjoy alternate-history type stuff, especially when supernatural elements are thrown in.


message 3: by Linda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:21AM) (new)

Linda C. (goodreadscomlindac_mccabe) | 7 comments I have loved Greek Mythology since I was a child. The stories are filled with pathos, hubris, and tragedy.

Themes that are larger than life, and resonate to this day in literature.

I am enthralled by drama that incorporates these kinds of elements.


message 4: by Hank Horse (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:21AM) (new)

Hank Horse I like situations where a character is magically transformed into something else, and then is dependent on being recognized by a loved one to be returned to themselves. It's an interesting motif, found in such varied stories as Miyazaki's
'Spirited Away', Preussler's 'Satanic Mill', and the first of Tove Jansson's Moomin books.


message 5: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 1 comments Hi! I'm a newbie here at goodreads.com and Mythic Fiction is right up my alley. :) I guess I'll tell you about myself. I've studied Ancient Egyptian most of my life and have been to every museum in every city I've ever visited just to see their exhibits. Saw King Tut's exhibit on the first day and spent 4-1/2 hours googling at all the treasures. I've seen every Mummy movie ever made, read as many Egyptian style fiction stories I could get a hold of, and have a full collection of non-fiction books (mainstream and controversial). I also enjoy studying about Atlantis.
Needless to say, I love writing (especiallly Egyptian fantasy). The first story I published was in '05. It was a short story challenge (it rhymned and almost didn't get accepted) for Valentine's Day issue of Deep Magic Ezine, called Lady Galiena-The Watcher of the Road and it was based on a German fairytale. I've been working on my first novel for about 5 years now and am just now getting to the final draft. It took all that time just to re-learn all the grammar I forgot since highschool, but I've always loved words so at least that was easy. My reading habits tend to sway at times, but I mostly like Anne Rice's older work (her version of The Mummy is awesome!), some Stephen King, Clive Cussler, and I've just discovered the love of reading Wilbur Smith. Man can he write a mean Egyptian story.

My novel is about twins and one of them travels through time in an alternate version of reality. Andrea (MC) falls in love with the pharaoh Khufu (builder of the Great Pyramid). Gods and goddesses walk among men and the antagonist Apep is the Sun God Ra's enemy. It's hard finding the right balance though because I hop from the past to the present. The twin in the present time has her own problems that are so intergral to the story that it made head hopping a necessary evil. I've been told I'm pulling it off well, but friends are sometimes partial. The romance gets a bit hot and heavy at times and the battle scenes can be gruesome; it's definately not a book for kids. I'm working hard to get it up to par.

A lot of times I find that life experiences always have a way of creeping into the characters. Getting the right mindset to sit and write is oftentimes hard when life gets too busy. Dream sequences stump me and I worry a lot about overusing words. I like twisting plots that keep the reader guessing what's next and I plot the same way.

When picking out books to read I tend to sit and read the first 15-20 pages and if it can grab my attention then I buy it. I'm not picky on genre either.

Well, I've blabbed enough. Keep on writing.

Blessed be,
Lynn


message 6: by VMom (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

VMom (votermom) Hi Lynn. I went to see the King Tut exhibit too. Fascinating. I remember reading The Egyptian by Mika Waltari as a kid and being blown away. Have you read that? I've read River God by Wilbur Smith -- pretty good.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I really love the idea that there is a hidden world, living alongside ours. Hidden in plain sight, all kinds of supernatural or just weird things are going on. I like to read something like that when I start to get bored with reality.


message 8: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Michael The end of the world, or whatever you want to call it. I also like a little noble sacrifice and a little redemption thrown in.

It amazes me sometimes that I'm not religious.


message 9: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Carl | 4 comments I think for me one of the big things is the feeling of unplumbable depth, a history that goes beyond into prehistory, like Tolkien's mythic background to LOTR which you can taste, but which cannot be completely filled in. The feeling that this is a world of narrative and culture which I can begin to explore, but which will only become larger for my having explored a part of it.


message 10: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:33PM) (new)

Laura (laurastamps) I am a Wiccan Faery Witch and also an Empath and Psychic, so my everyday world is full of the mythic unseen...spirits, faeries, etc. And I guess it is no surprise this is what I love to read about most in novels...Witches, faeries, spirits in the natural world.

Lately, I would also have to add vampires to that list. I have no idea why, except the vampire characters in novels I like best are the good guys. Definitely, a different twist on that myth. And that goes for faeries and spirits too. It seems so cliched for them to always be the bad guys in novels. I much prefer faeries and spirits to be the good guys. From my world viewpoint this is much more realistic. I guess you could say my real life is stranger than most fiction! But lots of fun (grin).


message 11: by Arun (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Arun K | 2 comments personally middle eastern or indian mythology infused into urban works is my favorite setting.

American gods by Neil Gaiman did this .

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny also did this.

River of Gods by Ian Mcdonald does the same but in a near-futuristic cyberpunk India.
~~

Aside from Indian mythos, any sort of folk tale/faerie mythos interests me.

THe first four books fo the Artemis Fowl series by ian colfer had a strange draw for me eventhough i kinda despised the writing.

the fables/hellboy/sandman comics also interest me because of this very reason.


message 12: by Karin (new)

Karin | 3 comments so my favorite is Fairy tale retellings. They are generally found in the fantasy section in my local library, but I live in a small town, so I have a hard time finding new ones. My favorites so far are Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters Trilogy and Scott Card's Enchantment. Anyone have any good authors for this subgenre?


message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim | 1 comments Hi there. In answer to Belcantomom's question, a couple of suggestions of fairy tale retellings I have are Robin McKinley's Beauty, Deerskin, and Rose Daughter, and Francesca Lia Block's The Rose and the Beast. Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series also retells fairy tales: Reserved for the Cat is the latest which retells Puss-in-boots.
As far as what sort of mythic themes I'm drawn to, it really varies. Lately I'm on an urban fantasy kick, especially books that deal with faerie. I'm obsessed with the Tam Lin legend, and love books that use or retell this story, as well as those which generally depict faerie the same way: seductive, alien, and dangerous.


message 14: by Grace (new)

Grace (sidheetain) | 1 comments Juliet Marillier also has an incredible book called _Wildwood Dancing_, if you haven't read it. It's the best fairy tale retelling I've read in a very long time.


message 15: by Rora (new)

Rora The quality I'm drawn most to in a book is having the main character struggle and grow in some way. I also like books that are spiritual, fantasy or based on myth.


message 16: by Inky (new)

Inky | 11 comments Great comments! I'm drawn to books that bring the reader back to the divine within themselves, the sort of plot that takes us on a heroic journey. That's why I have such a soft spot for Tolkien, George RR Martin, Robert Jordan, etc. I also like stories that center on rogues, the kind of characters that you desperately want to do the right thing but of whom you can never be certain. That probably comes from reading Howard Pyle's "Robin Hood" when I was much too young.

And I have to give a special nod to quest stories. I've read dozens of those over the years and never tire of them.


message 17: by John (new)

John Allenson | 5 comments The mythic theme is prefer is the dissonance between Transformation and Perfection. Whether the supernatural beings are gods, vampires, djinni, angels, demons or Faerie they can't grow or change. Humans (and hobbits!) go through change. They grow old, get sick, fall in love, conquer their fears and transcend some of the limitations. One example is The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe where they entrance into a magic but frozen land restarts the cycle of seasons.

I also like struggles between great ideas OTHER THAN Good vs Evil. I find Good/Evil battles are usually trite since their is no honest question about which side is right. One of my favorite series is Lukyanenko's Night Watch series where Light and Dark are not quite the same thing as Good and Evil. The Dark is fighting for the integrity of Human experience while the Light is trying to improve Humanity.


message 18: by Adria (new)

Adria | 2 comments I really like stories that have Greek mythology in them and stories that are fairy tale retellings. I've only read a couple books that include greek myth. though; the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan and The Chronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu.

I never considered supernatural as mythic before reading this thread, but I do like angel/demon, vampire, werewolf fiction too.


message 19: by Keith (new)

Keith Azariah-Kribbs (azariahkribbs) | 3 comments Too many stories these days center around the golden child who has come to save us from our miserable selves. Thanks to their special powers, super capabilities, something the rest of us don't have, they save the day, and the rest of us just have to stand aside and watch in admiration as they do what we can't. That's awfully popular in fiction now, and I wonder why, unless it is because the readers secretly believe they are golden children themselves and just haven't discovered their wand or their power or their whatever, yet.

The truth is that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, and in the right setting, that makes the kind of story I prefer. That's about us, not about people who are about to discover they are superpeople, but about people who discover they have to be super with what they have, humble enough stuff.

Drop a character like that in the midst of an epic battle between good and evil, and you have something interesting. Some of them will use bad means to good ends, good means to bad ends (sometimes inadvertently) . . . maybe the goal of the quest is to save us, maybe just to save themselves . . . the possibilities are obvious.

But to work, they have to be us facing the dark valley, not somebody we're supposed to stand and admire from a distance. Yet these stories are very common now.

Are people now such narcissists that they get through the day thinking that they are undiscovered golden children? I'd hate to think so. Being plain old ordinary human is strange enough.

But then again, C.S. Lewis once said something to the effect of, every person you meet on the street will, in a hundred years, be a creature that you would either be tempted to fall down and worship or run from in mindless terror.

Maybe in that sense, we're all golden children after all. But if we are, why don't the stories that use that motif work? Not for me, anyway.

Well, there are two kinds, like Lewis said. Milton's Satan thought he was a golden child, too.


message 20: by Annah (new)

Annah | 3 comments I find that I like the hero's journey stories with a twist - not all sweetness and light. Charles deLint being my favorite author in this genre, though I read Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Tolkien. I truly love the Newford stories deLint writes...the sense of another world right at the edge of my vision makes me hopeful for change. Silly, probably. I like stories like the Darkover novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, too. They are especially fun if you read them in the order of the stories, not the order she wrote them.

I find I get annoyed with Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey - the writing is just a bit sloppy for my taste; and they always have the happy ending. I like it a bit more ambiguous.


message 21: by Erin (new)

Erin Hoffman | 1 comments Wow, this has got to be one of the longest-lived continuous threads I've seen. :) That's pretty neat. :)

I agree with much of the above. I will freely admit I have a particular weakness for the Beauty and the Beast myth. I'm fond of retellings that put that story into a different environment. I loved Lackey's THE FIRE ROSE (though Annah I hear you about the writing -- to me she is just such a powerful storyteller). I'm currently reading Robin McKinley's BEAUTY and enjoying it quite a bit. On the 'Cinderella' side of the spectrum one of my all-time favorite retellings is definitely CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER, possibly because, to Michele's point, there was a strong historical element from a fascinating time period (the Dutch tulip speculation wars).

I'm enjoying the current trend in recapitulating even more modern mythology, like Greg Maguire's WICKED (though interestingly the musical then reinterpreted *his* version and came out with something even better, I think). What makes these kinds of things so interesting to me is that we see the conversation with myth going on 'live', contemplation after contemplation, updated and often their themes inverted in ways that illuminate both the culture of the original work and modern themes in our current condition.


message 22: by Debye (new)

Debye I really like stories of the Sidhe and similar beings, that exist with humans
Unbeknownst to them. A blending of the mythic and urban fantasy.


message 23: by Marleny (new)

Marleny Moohstoh (dianelolz) | 1 comments my fav mythic theme is about demi gods like percy jackson!!


message 24: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 17 comments I like novels that deal with the mythologies of various cultures around the world.

One of the most well known in this category and a favorite of mine isAmerican Gods, but I also love The Wolf and the Raven.


message 25: by Garrett (new)

Garrett | 1 comments my favorite type is with wizards worriers enchanters ect... i think a modern day time setting along with a middle age past in the story of the characters


message 26: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha | 2 comments my favorite is with vampire and werwoilves! there are so manny books right now that have to do with were woulves and vampire and i love almost all of them like the twilight seres and the vampire dires and etc. there all so fun to read!!


message 27: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments I suppose my favorite mythic fiction deals with Celtic myths and legends. While I like fiction from most western ancient cultures, so little was written down by the Celts, that the fiction, esp if true to what is known almost becomes source material.


message 28: by Jdaniels (new)

Jdaniels | 3 comments Kernos wrote: "I suppose my favorite mythic fiction deals with Celtic myths and legends. While I like fiction from most western ancient cultures, so little was written down by the Celts, that the fiction, esp if ..."

Have you read the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier? Those are amazing stories with Celtic mythology.


message 29: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Hollyberry | 12 comments I like fairy tale retellings the best usually. There are a lot of good ones. I'm not sure which is my favorite fairytale. My favorite mythologies are Norse and Arthurian, but rather than make me like fiction based on them, it usually makes me abhor it: "that's not what it is like!!!"


message 30: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Ideiosepius I have always loved fairy tales, Japanese fairy tales, Celtic, Norse, all good. Then several years ago I started reading Marie Louise Von France who wrote about the underlying symbolism in fairy tales and Carl Jung on symbology in general. Now I like Fairy tales even more and I especially like seeing powerfull mythic themes that have survived the years emerging in new forms.

I love a lot of what De Lint has done, and I was a big fan of Mercedes Lackey when I first discovered her. Her writing has gotten pretty ordinary in spots though and even some of the retold fairy stories she did seemed to me a bit bland.


message 31: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Fairy tale retellings-I am fascinated how old themes shape or reflect our unconscious struggles. It's a main reason I joined this group.
Also King Arthur: the dream of a harmonious society, with the worm of destruction always already there.
Wounded healer myths, like the Fisher King. How our wounds transform us or be used to transform others.


message 32: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments Jdaniels wrote: "...Have you read the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier? Those are amazing stories with Celtic mythology. ..."

Oh yes. She's one of my favorite authors. I have her last 3 books to read staring at me next to my bed.


message 33: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie (thegenie) | 5 comments i have alot of "favorite" themes for fairy tail retellings. i just love any themes, i have only one condition though: IT HAS TO BE GOOOOD! that's it; just a good storyline, character, etc.


message 34: by Justin (new)

Justin Erickson (ericksje) | 1 comments The Hero's journey. Especially the symbolism and structure that Joseph Campbell detailed.


message 35: by Becomingme (new)

Becomingme | 10 comments Hmmm...I pretty easy...I like anything with a bit of fantasy and/or magic,kinda a nut for it really. I am especially drawn to magical realism in which the prosaic is transformed such as Like Water for Chocolate or Bless Me, Ultima(and this is my latina showing)...but I love tales and stories from everywhere...like The Shining Falcon is one of my most treasured tomes (it incorporates some Russian myths)...and how can I forget my well loved David Eddings books...I can go on and on...


message 36: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Pouncey (ashleymp) | 1 comments My personal favorite is fiction with a mythic back round and stuff like that.


message 37: by Robert (last edited May 04, 2011 12:33AM) (new)

Robert Clear (robertclear) | 4 comments Kerstin wrote: "I'm very fond of fairytale retellings and stories that include characters or story-lines from greek, celtic or norse mythology."

I'm a big fan of Greek mythology as well. But I have a special interest, as it's what I research for my PhD! Contemporary fiction involving the gods always has me interested. And in the past year or so it's been the main inspiration in my writing.


message 38: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments Sidhe wrote: "Juliet Marillier also has an incredible book called _Wildwood Dancing_, if you haven't read it. It's the best fairy tale retelling I've read in a very long time. "

A fairytale or a myth? What are the differences among myths, legends, fairy tales and folklore?

Inky wrote: "Great comments! I'm drawn to books that bring the reader back to the divine within themselves.."

What does that mean, "the divine in themselves"?

...I'm a big fan of Greek mythology as well. But I have a special interest, as it's what I research for my PhD! Contemporary fiction involving the gods always has me interested. And in the past year or so it's been the main inspiration in my writing. "

I'd be fascinated with your bibliography of the contemporary fiction you are considering.


message 39: by J. (new)

J. Bralick (jleighbralick) | 4 comments I've always been intrigued by Egyptian and Greek mythology. I remember trying to teach myself hieroglyphics from the Egyptian Book of the Dead when I was little. I also have a soft spot for Arthurian myth -- one of my favorite books (or, trilogies) ever is Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy.

Tolkien's ability to hint at an underlying mythology in LOTR is something that never fails to impress me.


message 40: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments J. Leigh wrote: "I've always been intrigued by Egyptian and Greek mythology. I remember trying to teach myself hieroglyphics from the Egyptian Book of the Dead when I was little. I also have a soft spot for Arthurian..."

Mary Stewart's series is a classic and IIRC the 1st modern retelling of note.

What Egyptian historical/mythic fantasies do you recommend?


message 41: by J. (new)

J. Bralick (jleighbralick) | 4 comments Kernos -- I actually have had a really hard time tracking down good novels with Egyptian themes. Most of what I've read is non-fiction, so I'd be interested in hearing anybody's recommendations for that kind of novel, too! Hmm...maybe I should write one....LOL ;) Really, the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the The Golden Goblet, but that's a YA book, so, maybe not what you were looking for.


message 42: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments J. Leigh wrote: "Kernos -- I actually have had a really hard time tracking down good novels with Egyptian themes. Most of what I've read is non-fiction, so I'd be interested in hearing anybody's recommendations fo..."

I find many YA books to be quite enjoyable, esp after having read something heavy and complex.

What I would really like is a Fiction that helped one discover the Egyption Pantheon. Well done mythologic fiction can really help one remember unfamiliar deities and their attributes. The same is true for legendary figures from other cultures.

Non-fictions tend to present things in a way that does not help memory, esp when one is new to a topic.


message 43: by John (new)

John Wiswell | 2 comments Honestly, my favorite mythic theme are those powers so far above us, often reflecting elements of us, that see our great journeys and wars as games. It's immediate and desperate and vast, but from up above it's trivial, funny and petty. The gods toying with so many Greek figures, or the way Gandalf steps in and out of The Hobbit. It's a perspective shift that can lend itself to great insight or simply wild humor.


message 44: by Matt (new)

Matt | 4 comments I really like authors who use water as a representation of a characters unconscious self. They will loose something it water, nearly drown, or cross over. And, there is always some kind significant change in the character following the event. Best example-- Princess and the Frog (the classic/ not disney)


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

The pre-Christian Sidhe and Norse mythology. Gene Wolfe's Wizard Knight series comes first with me, and the Icelandic sagas and the Karevala.


message 46: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments What novels have you discovered based on The Kalevala I have found the Finnish mythology rather inaccessible.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

It was a book about Merlin, but much to my chagrin, I can recall neither the title nor the author at the moment... it was only a brief reference anyway... Merlin goes north and for the first 40 pages or so is in that part (Finland) of the north. If I remember it I'll put it down here.


message 48: by Keith (new)

Keith Azariah-Kribbs (azariahkribbs) | 3 comments Kernos wrote: "What novels have you discovered based on The Kalevala I have found the Finnish mythology rather inaccessible."

These works are not based on the Kalevala by any means, but I can think of one motif, anyway, that got used once or twice: in the Kalevala, Väinämöinen creates the world by singing it into existence. In Tolkien's Silmarillion, that's the way the world is made. In Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, he has Aslan sing the world of Narnia into being, much the same as in the Finnish epic. That might be coincidence--it's not an in-obvious motif. But Tolkien, at least, was a fan.


message 49: by Samantha Tew (new)

Samantha Tew | 7 comments I love tales to have strong ties with nature and magic. Usually with a female lead.
As stupid as this sounds I long for a much simpler time where much is unknown and it seems that this is the type of plots/settings I am drawn to.


message 50: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 73 comments Samantha wrote: "I love tales to have strong ties with nature and magic. Usually with a female lead.
As stupid as this sounds I long for a much simpler time where much is unknown and it seems that this is the type..."


I know what you mean, but I'm not convinced simpler time were simpler. Just not having toiler paper or running cold and ht water would be major complications.


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