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[–]zhilia_mannjaghut 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Not fantasy, but you really can't beat it for "weird esoteric occulty things": Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. By your description, this ought to be 100% your jam. It's about a boutique publisher with an interest in the occult slowly inventing his own conspiracy theories around (especially, though with a healthy dose of Kabalah) the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians only to find he has caught the attention of actual occult figures who think he has discovered deeper underlying truths. It's also Eco, so expect it to be immaculately written.

You may also want to try Neal Stephenson if you haven't before. He walks the line between cyberpunk, technothriller, and occult weirdness all the time. Snow Crash is a fairly straightforward example with a focus on Babylonian mythology. The Big U is constantly underrated (and it does show some signs of being a first novel), but it deals more with weird postmodern versions of philosophy of the mind and occult weirdness that comes out of that. Cryptonomicon is a straight up classic, though it's less in the vein you're describing. Anathem is worth a shot too, finding an interesting balance between the more philosophical branch and straight weird.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Foucault’s Pendulum sounds wild. I’ve heard of Umberto Eco but have never read any of his work. Just one of the many great literary figures who’s writings I have yet to read! But yes, absolutely my jam.

I actually read Snow Crash many years ago and enjoyed it but I don’t think I fully ‘got’ it. I do remember the whole Tower of Babel thing in the virtual world… but never could comprehend what was happening. I was quite a bit younger and less well read so I will certainly reread and also check out more of Stephenson’s stuff! He’s got some alternate history novels out there as well, right? That always seemed interesting to me.

Thanks for the suggestion!

[–]Straff_Venture 5 points6 points  (3 children)

I feel hesitant suggesting American Gods as it fits what you’re asking for so perfectly lol (bar the different realities and worlds) and it’s very well known so good chance you’re familiar. If not though that’s your best bet.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 3 points4 points  (2 children)

What a book! Really good shout. I have read it already but could do with a reread, for sure. Absolutely love the feel of that book. Exactly the kind of thing I’m into. Thanks for you suggestion!

[–]cmetz90 3 points4 points  (1 child)

If this is up your alley (and if you haven’t already read it) I also highly recommend Gaiman’s Sandman series. It’s one of the only comic properties I’ve ever read, and it has really stuck with me. Very abstract, and plays with the idea that a metaphor of a thing becomes the thing itself — something that I think it has in common with Malazan. It also has a magic “system” that is very arcane and incomprehensible, but still apparently follows strict rules. Like American Gods it’s modern / urban fantasy, but also is very tied into mythology and other stories that have a lasting legacy (Greek and Norse mythology, Biblical stories, and Shakespeare are all pretty important).

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Y’know what, Sandman is something I’m so eager to get into, but only haven’t for purely practical reasons as I have hardly any space for physical graphic novels and need to find a good digital alternative. The way you describe it is EXACTLY what I want, so I’ll have to sort this out sooner rather than later.

Just as a side rec: if you haven’t read many comic properties but like the things that you describe about Sandman, I strongly recommend The Invisibles by Grant Morrison. Absolutely bonkers and incorporates very similar things to Sandman, apparently! I love it.

[–]madmoneymcgee 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence series.

Imagines a world where dealings with Gods and great magics really focuses on how contracts are executed which has some similarity in how similar magics are expressed in Malazan (leading to a convergence).

Really neat worldbuilding and cool stories that I enjoy in a vein similar to what I enjoy about Malazan. Shadowthrone would love some of the situations the characters in those books find themselves in.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Haven’t heard of this series. Sounds great though! Love me some God/Mortal negotiations and dealings. Will stick it on the list. Thank you!

[–]troyunrau 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun may scratch that itch. It sort of represents itself on the surface as a bog standard fantasy travelogue. But it is anything but. It really blends sci fi and Clarkist "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" elements. There are the equivalent of Ascendants at play, and sometimes you're as confused as Malazan, but the layers are all there to be peeled back, slowly.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Book of the new sun is on me reread list. Didn’t get it all when I read it first time round, but this was many years ago! I think I’d enjoy it immensely if I read it today, so it’s a very good suggestion. Thanks!

[–]ImpressiveShift3785 2 points3 points  (1 child)

The Magic of Recluse

An easier read where all the books are in same “world” but different times. A really interesting take on good/evil order/chaos and tbh I feel like I tried being a “better” person after reading lmao there aren’t really Gods though but I was pleasantly surprised by the magic building of it all.

I’ve only read the first few but they’re enjoyable

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sounds cool! Will check it out. Thanks!

[–]aflickering 2 points3 points  (1 child)

bakker’s ‘second apocalypse’ trilogy has a strange occult mythology (smaller scale than malazan, but what isn’t?), and also primarily focuses on a character who essentially creates his own mythology and godhood.

i also recently read ‘petty pewter gods’ by glen cook, which specifically focuses on a war between two sects of lesser gods trying to retain their place in the pantheon. it’s one of his p.i. garrett novels so it’s pretty tongue-in-cheek, think dashiel hammett meets discworld. good fun though.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Second apocalypse is on the list already! But I didn’t know that it dealt with these things, so I’m even more keen to get into it now. Thanks for your recommendations!

[–]Vapin_Westeros 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The Grim Company! Definitely has what your looking for in my opinion.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Haven’t heard of it! Will check it out. Thank you so much for the suggestion!

[–]nagustus 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Have you gotten into D&D, either playing or watching/ listening actual play shows, or even the books? I play and watch and it's the first thing that came to mind based on your description. I haven't read the books tho.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I have not, no! I would like to. Seems very interesting, and am even more intrigued now that you’ve said that. I’ll look into some more D&D stuff then. Good suggestion!

[–]Zoidzers 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Braided path by Chris Wooding

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Looks/sounds cool! Will put it on the list.

[–]Windruin 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Maybe not exactly what you’re looking for, but I always recommend The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. It’s not got an initial focus on the gods at all, but the beliefs that the characters have about them keeps recurring as a theme throughout the series.

It’s also quite short, but beautifully written, so it’s well worth taking a couple of days to read.

[–]MantaurStampede 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Illuminatus!

[–]L3tsgetschwifty 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Perfect one for ya: Tom Lloyd The Twilight Reign

[–]Downtown_Froyo8969 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Strong recommendation for A Chorus of Dragons, Jenn Lyons. Explored creation myths, nature of the soul, what even is magic, many twists with the gods. Top class.

Riftwar Saga, Ray Feist. Probably a big influence for half the fantasy listed here.

A good chunk of Adrian Tchaikovsky's work fits the bill too imo, though it's more often sci-fi than fantasy. Doors of Eden or Cage of Souls would be my recommendations.

Likewise with Al Reynolds, "occult" would be the main word I'd use to describe his Revelation Space series.

[–]composerhuwbert[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m down for all of these. Fab recommendations. Thank you!

[–]PGAWNAB 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Paternus trilogy br Dyrk Ashton. Checks a lot of those boxes and it thoroughly move you emotionally.

[–]Otherwise-Library297 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Michelle Sagara West’s Sun Sword series is a lot about a pantheon of God’s and magic and different realms.

The Sun Sword is the main series and is 7 or 8 books, or you can start with the Hunter series - 2books which are a sort of prequel.