Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people.
Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Neil Gaiman was a new author that I discovered that I love last year. After reading The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I went on to read American Gods and Neverwhere. Both were brilliant! So heading in I had high expectations of Norse Mythology.
So did it meet my expectations? Yes and No.
The beginning was tedious with description of the lineage.
It reminded me of the beginning of the bible with who is who, who fathered who et cetera. To be honest, I had to re-read the first part several times to get the gist of who’s who.
If you are new to Norse mythology then it can be information over load. I know some Norse mythology and still found it hard to remember who was who. Thank goodness there’s a glossary at the back of the book to help!
The beginning was a bit off putting and I almost contemplated in not continuing.
But I ploughed through slowly and I am glad I did.
The stories about Odin, world creation, the gods and their world that followed was well worth the little headache at the beginning.
I like Neil Gaiman’s style of writing. Gaiman has a natural flow of story telling that just pulls you right in. It’s easy to get drawn into the Norse world. Gaiman retells these interesting stories about the Gods, giants and dwarfs in a very casual way and his story telling powers are fantastic.
You’re in for a treat if you listen to the audio version of this book!
The author reads the book to you and he does an amazing job in pulling you in. What better way than have the author read it to you? I read and listened to the audio book.
Gaiman retells the Norse world from the beginning to their final destination at Ragnarok.
They are interesting stories and the book is short; only 281 pages.
Here’s some of the stories that I liked inside:
- Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds– I love the world tree and how it reaches the nine worlds.
- Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye– I enjoyed reading how Odin only has one eye.
- The Apples of Immortality– This was interesting how the gods needed the apples to stay young.
- Freya’s Unusal Wedding– Hilarious how Thor dressed up as a bride to get back his missing hammer.
- The Death of Balder– Balder is Odin’s second son, loved by all except Loki.
- The Last Days of Loki– Loki is Odin’s blood brother.
The book is mainly about Odin, Thor and Loki.
Odin is the oldest of the gods, the Allfather of Norse gods and is the ruler of Asgard.
He is wise and even gave up an eye for wisdom.
Odin has two ravens, Huginn and Muninn who travel the world and then perch on Odin’s shoulder to tell him news of the world.
Loki is Odin’s brother. Loki is a shape-shifter and can change into whatever he wants. He also has shoes that make him fly. Loki is crafty and devious and seems always at the root of the problem. I liked Loki for his mischievousness.
Thor is the strongest of the gods and not that smart. God of Thunder, he is straightforward and good-natured. He’s the second most powerful god after his father Odin.
Thor’s strength is from his hammer and belt. He has a belt that he wears called Megingjord that doubles his strength when worn.
Thor has a special hammer that was crafted by the dwarfs Brokk and Eitri, called Mjollnir that can destroy anything, never miss its target, will return to Thor as well. Thor wears iron gloves to hold Mjollnir and keeps Asgard safe with his hammer.
I enjoyed how the book ended.
Here’s a snippet from the last chapter, Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Golds.
“Black ash will fall from the sky like snow. …
Soon after, the swollen ocean will swallow the ashes as it washes across the all the land, and everything living will be forgotten under the sunless sky.
That is how the world will end, in ash and flood, in darkness and ice. That is the final destiny of the Gods.”.
That is the end but there’s also what comes after the end… Life and Life’s Yearning.
My Final Thoughts
Norse Mythology by the very brilliant and talented Neil Gaiman was well worth the read. After the initial hump at the beginning the stories were told in a brilliant way. They were entertaining, funny and compelling.
This rendition on Norse myths was a great way to learn about the Norse gods and I was happy to say that it met my expectations and left me satisfied.