I have talked about my love for Greek mythology on the blog before, so when I found a WEBTOON about Greek mythology, I knew I would love it. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe is a printed/published comic book series that began as a WEBTOON comic of the same name. As of this writing, there are five published volumes of Lore Olympus! (And all are owned by the Davenport Public Library and available for you to check out – the sixth is set to be published hopefully in May 2024!)
Lore Olympus: Volume One introduces readers to the messy, glitzy world of forbidden love, scandal, gossip, and wild parties in Olympus. The Greek pantheon is a wild group of gods and goddesses, spiraling out with numerous other family members. This retelling focuses on Hades and Persephone, putting a modern twist on a classic tale – the parts that occur in Olympus happen in modern times, while the parts that take place in the mortal realm happen in the original classic timeline(no cell phones etc. in the mortal realm).
Persephone was raised in the mortal realm, but her mother, Demeter, has allowed her to live in Olympus after she promises to train as a sacred virgin. Her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party one night that changes her entire life. Persephone bumps into Hades, feeling a spark and tether to this God who is incredibly charming, yet misunderstood. The world of Olympus is new and confusing to her with the swirling mess of politics and relationships that govern day-to-day life. Figuring out who to trust is hard enough, let alone trying to figure out what’s happening with her powers and where she fits in amongst the established in Olympus.
I LOVE Greek mythology. So Much. This whole series is right up my alley. Hades and Persephone are adorable. The artwork is also especially beautiful. I highly recommend you read the other published volumes and check out the Lore Olympus WEBTOON if you wish.
“But this is a women’s war, just as much as it is the men’s, and the poet will look upon their pain – the pain of the women who have always been relegated to the edges of the story, victims of men, survivors of men, slaves of men – and he will tell it, or he will tell nothing at all. They have waited long enough for their turn.”
― Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships
Natalie Haynes has come into her own with her 2019 retelling of the Trojan War called A Thousand Ships. In previous writings, she has focused on the lives of those ignored in Greek mythology and life. A Thousand Ships amplifies this by telling the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective. She has managed to discuss mythology’s greatest war by highlighting the problems of modern day wars. Haynes brings to light the impacts of war on women, children, and families while more traditional retellings instead focus on the bravery of the men in war. Their brutal assaults leave out the impact that war has on society, only focusing on the male heroes and male victims. A Thousand Ships is a blessed divergence from the traditional: instead showing the women’s perspectives, from servants to goddesses and all the women and families in-between.
Calliope, a muse, is singing to a mortal poet man, hoping that he will instead tell the stories of wartime women. She is tired of hearing the stories of the warriors and feels that the women’s stories are equally as important. Through rotating narration, readers are taken from the start of the Trojan War to the sacking of Troy to Penelope finally welcoming Odysseus home after twenty years of his absence. This broader look shifts from Hecuba, Cassandra, Penelope, Calliope, Clytemnestra, Helen, Laodamia, among many others. The title of this book even focuses more on women than men: Helen of Troy is often called ‘the face that launched a thousand ships,’ a phrase coined by Christopher Marlowe in the 17th century. This cast of female characters battles war, politics, and religion as they either survive or come to a bad end.
“A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we?”
― Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships
I love any story that has to do with mythology. I am more familiar with Greek mythology though, so when I stumbled upon Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, I decided to give it a go. After all, Norse mythology deals with Thor, Odin, Loki, Freya, and many other Norse gods. If you’ve watched any Marvel Avengers movie, then you’re familiar with Thor and Loki. I wanted to read this book to see how close Marvel followed the Norse mythology(laughable, yes, but nevertheless I was curious). Add in giants, dwarves, ogres, and multiple other fantastical beasts and I knew I would enjoy it.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman spins the fantastical realms of the primeval Norse myths into a novel. Gaiman begins by describing the origins of the nine worlds and ends with Ragnarok, the time when the gods will die and a new world will take over. In between the beginning and decimation of all, Gaiman weaves stories of the different giants, dwarves, and deities who inhabit the nine worlds. This book was a fascinating read and Gaiman stays true to the actual Norse myths. Remember that this is a work of fiction, however, and he did recreate the characters a little bit to make it more interesting. Nevertheless, this book was a thoroughly engaging read. If you have the option to listen to it, I recommend you do because Neil Gaiman actually narrates it himself! Worth it.
Gaiman is a masterful storyteller whose lyrical thoroughness is out in full force as he breathes new life into these long-ago myths. Thor, Loki, and Odin seem to jump off the page as they fight to keep order throughout all nine worlds. Everyone manages to get into a little bit of trouble (I mean, Loki is a trickster God after all…), so you know things are going to get crazy. Each story told adds in multiple elements and different layers to the gods’ lives. I really enjoyed this book and hope you do as well!
This book is also available in the following formats:
Do you like reading about ancient gods and goddesses like Aphrodite, Athena, Zeus, etc? I know I do. One thing I found lacking when I was reading about them was that there was never any story about their day-to-day lives. Sure, everyone knows the Athena sprung whole out of her father Zeus’ head after he swallowed her mother to try to keep her from being born, that Aphrodite rose full-formed out of the sea foam, and that Zeus was a philandering God who had many different girlfriends and illegitimate children despite the fact that he was married to Hera, the goddess of weddings and marriage, but what about their everyday lives?? Martin Millar has attempted to tackle this question in his new book, The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies.
In The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies, Martin Millar looks at both the daily life of the gods and goddesses, but also at the lives of the people who relied on them to make their lives work. (Admittedly more attention is paid to the citizens than to the gods, but interesting tidbits and stories are thrown in for good measure.) In this fantasy epic, the lives of Athenian citizens are in dire straits as the city is in its 10th year of war with Sparta. In hopes to end the war, a peace conference is being held around the time of the festival of Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility and wine who was also known as a patron of the arts.
Aristophanes is struggling to get the necessary funds to guarantee his play’s success and to make up for the fact that he didn’t win first prize at last year’s festival. His rival playwrights are receiving any and everything they could possibly want, while the politicians and festival sponsors seem to be conspiring to make sure his play fails gigantically. One group in town wants peace, while the other group wants war to continue. Aristophanes’ play about peace will never succeed without money, so he is forced to make some deals with some less-than-reputable people in town. Add in various people praying to the gods and asking for help and soon Athens finds itself the center of attention of some meddlesome gods who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the outcome they desire.
This funny, compelling, and witty adventure into the lives of average Athenian citizens and the gods they turn to for help will have you eagerly turning the page to see what destruction and mayhem could possibly come next.