Tough Traveling: Dead Gods

Today is Thursday, so it’s Tough Traveling at Fantasy Review Barn, exploring favourite fantastical tropes. This week is DEAD GODS:

Fantasyland had gods, right?  And now they are dead.  Dead Gods are not forgotten though, often they are still just influential to the land as they were when living.

Ruin and Preservation, Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)

SPOILERS: Things don’t turn out well for either of the two gods in the Mistborn trilogy – it turns out that Preservation has been slowly dying for a long time, and of course the entire goal for Vin and company is to kill Ruin.

The Authority, The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman)

Once again, sometimes the whole point of a book is to get rid of God (The Authority, in this case). SPOILERS: It turns out to be remarkably easy, in this case – and this is probably part of what has led to Philip Pullman’s reputation for being anti-religion.

The Old Ones, Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Old Ones are the “pure” demons who once ruled the earth; under their rule, earth was basically hell, and the demons were worshipped as gods.  Eventually they were all banished or killed, with their bodies placed in the Deeper Well to (theoretically) prevent their resurrection (and that worked soooo well in season 5 of Angel). In addition to Illyria being resurrected by her worshippers in the last season of Angel, in season 3 of Buffy the Mayor attempts to ‘ascend’ to pure demonhood and become an Old One, and another Old One – Maloker – is introduced in the comics.

to do list
Mayor Richard Wilkins III: my favourite Buffy villain, and the best at to-do lists

The Derelict Reaper, Mass Effect 2

The Reapers are a race of ancient, immortal starships that periodically destroy all spacefaring life in the galaxy – but they can occasionally be killed (by Commander Shepard, more often than not).  A team of scientists is sent to study the “corpse” of one of these reapers, only to find that even though it is millions of years dead, its power is warping their minds and memories… and by the time  Shepard gets there to clean things up, there is nothing left of the research team.  As one of their logs reads: “Chandana said the ship was dead. We trusted him. He was right. But even a dead god can dream.”

The Norse Gods, Götterdämmerung (Richard Wagner)

Before there was 12 hours of The Lord of the Rings movies, there was 12 hours of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the epic four-opera series ending in Götterdämmerung, the twilight of the gods. A friend of mine once hosted a massive Ring Cycle watching party (I have the best friends) and I have to confess that I peaced out of there at about hour 6… there’s only so much Wagner you can take at once.  I know that if I had stayed to the end, though, it would have involved the gods being consumed in flames as Valhalla burns.  Very dramatic.

I did make it to Die Walküre (opera 2 out of 4) though:

Even if you’re not an opera fan, this might remind you of either bugs bunny or the smell of napalm in the morning.

14 thoughts on “Tough Traveling: Dead Gods”

  1. “Even if you’re not an opera fan, this might remind you of either bugs bunny or the smell of napalm in the morning.” – This made me laugh.

    Great list! And such varied sources. Books! Television! Video Games! Opera! Nice, nice.

    1. Tbh two music degrees later the first thing I think of when I hear Ride of the Valkyries is still Apocalypse Now… Same goes for The Rite of Spring and dinosaurs.

    1. Thanks! I can’t claim the credit for the idea, though – Michael at Relentless Reading made the inspired choice of the Queen of the Night for the week on Moms (http://relentlessreading.com/2015/05/06/tough-traveling-mom/)! It never occurred to me to use music until then, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier – opera in particular has a lot of these same tropes, seeing as so many of plots are fantasy-based.

    1. You like Wagner AND Mass Effect?? I think I’ve only ever met one other person who has both of those interests in common with me, and I married him. So basically, you are obviously a fantastic person.

    1. To be honest, I came up a bit light on literature choices this week – had to fill it in with some video games and opera, haha. It seems like there are a lot of books featuring Dead Gods that I need to read!
      Jenn recently posted…Tough Traveling: Dead GodsMy Profile

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