Hello humans! You may recall me mentioning this book in my ‘year of ALL THE RETELLINGS’ check in back at the end of May, but I haven’t had a chance to actually write my review of this book! I thought I’d keep in short and sweet since everyone and their mum has read this already so it’s a mini review! (Also, let’s all celebrate me ticking off a Want to Read Wednesday from 2017!)
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
This is a nice quick read, ideal for anyone who is used to the short story format, unlike the other Norse mythology retelling I read this year (The Gospel of Loki) Gaiman opts to keep these stories mostly separate. Of course, there is a narrative link between them but this link tends to come in right at the end of the stories, making this a great book to dip in and out of as and when you feel like it.
If you’ve never encountered Norse mythology, or you have but never in much detail, I think this is a great place to start. My introduction to the subject was with a HUGE DK book on all different kinds of mythology which I devoured at the age of about seven. This book might not be totally appropriate for a seven-year-old but it does have a lot of those same stories I know and love. I’m not sure that the way that Gaiman tells these stories is particularly unique, and I would have appreciated a little more humour within them, but the moments of lightness were enough to make me chuckle out loud at times. So if you know Norse mythology back to front and upside down I don’t think you’ll find anything new here, but it is an enjoyable read even with that knowledge in the background.
So, should you read this? I mean, if you’re wanting a quick, fun romp through these myths then I can’t think of a better example (though I’m sure there are many) and this has a little of that special Gaiman touch that just makes it all feel a little more whimsical.
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? What are some of your favourite myths? Let me know in the comments below!