The God of War reboot on PlayStation 4 was a massive success in 2018. Now its sequel, God of War: Ragnarok is hitting PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on November 9th. Kratos and his son are continuing their brutal, monster-stomping, heartwarming, and heartrending adventure through mythical lands and Norse mythology with even more pixels.
Part of what made God of War so great was the writing. Kratos evolved from a rage-fueled killing machine into a father, a man struggling to be a father once again while holding the demons of his past at bay. Atreus, his son, is very much a teenager. He’s also someone who idolizes his father and desperately wants to know more about the past that Kratos is hiding. Both are grieving Atreus’ dead mother. No matter how big the battles, how complex the puzzles, or how dazzling the scenery is, this relationship outshines everything else. The set piece moments always take a backseat to these smaller moments.
Sounds like a great setup for a book or comic book, doesn’t it? That got me thinking: certainly, there are already books out there that capture some or all of the spirit of God of War and its upcoming sequel. Behold, mortal, nine books like God of War: Ragnarok.
Ariadne: A Novel by Jennifer Saint
Part of God of War: Ragnarok is the retelling of classic mythology. Jennifer Saint has recently hit the literary scene doing the same, starting with this novel. Ariadne was the princess of Crete, growing up with the horrendous minotaur thundering below the palace. When Theseus arrives, she finds herself torn between her family legacy and this young warrior.
Conan the Barbarian by Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar
Buff, brutal dude cutting through swaths of enemies? Kratos is just one in a long line that traces back to Conan. In this latest incarnation of the barbarian in comic books, superstar writer Jason Aaron takes the helm. By Krom, this saga takes Conan across the Earth against enemies new and old.
The First Binding by R.R. Virdi
Kratos isn’t exactly a hero, more of an antihero. He’s violent, quick-tempered, and has done many terrible things in his long life. Sounds like Ari, the protagonist of The First Binding. This book begins the new series, with Ari telling the story of how he loosed his first evil upon the world.
The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough
This classic of historical military novels is full of swords and subterfuge, politics and betrayal. While not nearly as violent as God of War: Ragnarok, it spans the ancient world much like the earlier entries in the God of War series did. This is a must-read for historical fiction fans who want a little God of War flavor.
Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell
More armored, ancient men committing great violence! Helikaon, like Kratos, is a violent man with a dark past. He’s feared by enemies and allies alike. He’s driven by some dark magic that drives him to unheard-of brutality. Now he’s on a collision course against Argurios the Mykene, his archnemesis.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
In God of War, the gods are immortal, but that doesn’t save them from Kratos’ wrath when he sets his sights. They are mortal against him. In Lore, nine Greek gods have to walk the earth as mortals every seven years, and they’re hunted each time. Lore Perseous long ago fled this cycle, but finds herself drawn back into it, this dangerous game.
Red Sonja by Gail Simone and Walter Geovani
Like Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja is a classic in the brutal swords-and-sorcery genre. Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s run at the swordswoman brought a fresh take on the character. Owing a debt to the one man who gains her respect, Sonja joins the losing side of a war, bringing her face-to-face with the one opponent that might be her equal.
Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz
This one is a bit different and quite brilliant, imagining Yemaya, an ancient Nigerian ocean deity, in mid-1800s America. Traversing from West Africa to the New World, Yemaya rages against the injustices she finds there, joining the Underground Railroad, and blending mythology with brutal history.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
This fantasy novel blends climate fiction into an action-packed adventure full of gods and monsters alike. These are gods and monsters of Navajo mythology, walking the flooded country, but Maggie hunts these monsters. When she discovers the truth behind these monsters, she has to ally with a medicine man and survive all sorts of dangers if she hopes to survive.
Gods, monsters, swords, and war permeate these books, as they do in God of War: Ragnarok. Each one will help you fill the void while you wait for the new game, or if you’re missing Kratos after playing it.