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7 of ‘American Gods’ author Neil Gaiman’s favourite books

Fresh off the couch from American Gods season three, I don’t know about you but I feel a certain yearning for some Neil Gaiman-esque fiction to keep the fire burning.

After much too-ing and fro-ing, STARZ, have finally decided to bring back American Gods for a fourth season. Slated for release in May 2023, which gives you plenty of time to catch up on some good reads in the meantime. Here are some of Neil Gaiman’s favourite books, that resonate with our American Gods sensibilities.

The Lord of the Rings – J. R.R. Tolkien

This is perhaps one of the few books on the list that doesn’t really need an introduction, but for those of you that haven’t seen the movies or read the books, this is a must-read.  An epic tale about a reluctant hero’s journey to save Middle Earth. Accompanied by a Wizard, an elf, a dwarf, and a couple of humans and hobbits, LOTR follows the story of an unlikely hero Frodo Baggins, who carries the weight of the world literally around his neck, in the form of the One Ring, to throw it into the fire of Mount Doom, in order to save Middle Earth as they know it.

Lord of the Rings
Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

Creatures of Light and Darkness – Roger Zelazny

 Science fiction at its best with a healthy dose of cyberpunk with Egyptian Gods thrown in for good measure. Set in the distant future, across many worlds, the story follows two Gods, one mission, and the eternal war between life and death.  

Creatures of Light and Darkness
Credit: Wilder Publications

The New Sun series, The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe

The first volume in a four-part series, the Shadow of the Torturer is set in a world called Urth and follows the story of an exiled young apprentice in the Guild of Torturers, who has been cast out for committing the crime of showing mercy toward his victim. 

The Shadow of the Torturer
Credit: Orion

Lud-In-The-Mist – Hope Mirrlees

A fairy tale/detective novel/history/fantasy all in one. Set in small country Dorimare, where eating fairy fruit was once enjoyed as freely, has now become outlawed. Ranulph is believed to have eaten said fairy fruit, and his father Nathaniel Chanticleer, the mayor of Lud-In-The-Mist, finds himself looking into old mysteries in order to save his son and the people of his city.

lud in the mist
Credit: Orion

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

In a distant time, magicians were once the norm, and Mr Norrell finds that he may well be the last remaining practising magician. On a personal journey, to raise a young woman from the dead, he finds his services required by the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. All seems to be going well until he meets the charismatic Jonathan Strange, a magician in training, Norell takes him on as an apprentice, but it becomes clear quite quickly that Strange has darker ideas about where magic can be used. 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Credit: Bloomsbury Publishing

Horns – Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish wakes up after a night out of drinking and wreaking general havoc to find a pair of horns on his head. We follow Ig’s journey as he recovers from his much-loved partner’s murder, where he feels that God has all but abandoned him, and where it seems that the Devil hasn’t. Using his newfound horns, he sets out to make sense of it all. 

Horns
Credit: Orion

The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton

A metaphysical thriller, that centres on seven anarchists in turn-of-the-century London who call themselves by the names of the days of the week. The story follows one man, a philosophical policeman/poet as he goes undercover to infiltrate their deadly mission, even managing to have himself voted to the position of ‘Thursday’.

The Man who was Thursday
Credit: Penguin Classics

American Gods season four is set for release on the 24th May 2023.