Ladies and gentlemen, I have enlisted my husband (again!) to write a review for the blog. He read Norse Mythology long before I did, and he loved it so much I thought it would be a great addition to my blog. I think a lot you bandar-bloggers would enjoy this story if you haven’t read it yet. Bonus points: It’s short! Read on to see why you should give it a go.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
on February 7th 2017
Length: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy from The Book Depository
Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.
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. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
I’ll start off by saying this is my favorite thing I’ve read in a long time in terms of shear reading pleasure (and I read a lot of things that I really enjoy). I enjoyed it both because of Gaiman’s skill in retelling these stories, but also the source material.
The Norse myths are weird. I mean really weird, and a bit baffling if thought of in modern Christian terms. Gods are supposed to be all powerful, not fatally flawed. Gods are supposed to be otherworldly, not bound by appetites and wants and desires. Most of all, gods aren’t supposed to die (unless, of course, you’re into Nietzsche). The Norse gods do all of these things. In fact, they are surprisingly human, and perhaps tell us about the worldview of Vikings. This was a world so dangerous, so unforgiving, even their gods died. But, despite all of that, or because of it, you relish the good times of drinking, fighting, story-telling, and poetry.
Gaiman takes the humanness inherent in the Norse myths and highlights it. These are timeless stories, as entertaining to us now as they would be if told during the dark Icelandic winter, long ago, because like all good stories they remind us who we are. Gaiman’s Thor, Loki, Odin, and the others succumb to human passions and foibles with god-like repercussions, leading to Ragnarok, the end of all things. He also excels at taking these different tales and ordering them such that they build up to a thoroughly satisfying, and even a bit moving, ending. I loved these gods and was excited, after finishing the book, to jump right back in and listen to the audio book with Ali (narrated by Neil, himself. Also highly recommended). I don’t do back-to-back rereads, people. This is just that good.
Good for anyone who wants to know where poetry comes from, the many names of Odin, how Thor got his hammer, and how Loki’s children bring the end of all things.