Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

In Norse Mythology, Neil 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. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: By now, anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with Neil Gaiman and his work. So it’s no surprised that I got this the moment it was released, especially as I wanted to get into Norse mythology for a while now. The stories were organized perfectly, starting from the beginning of creation, through events and adventures that brought about the end of the world.

The interesting thing about the way Gaiman approached this, is that he wrote the gods to be casual, adopting a colloquial dialogue in the way they spoke. It wasn’t jarring, but unexpected, which only Neil Gaiman is able to pull off. This in no way hindered how the stories were told though. The gods came to life with each story, slowly revealing their personalities, but also, ultimately, showing what the vikings valued in themselves and their deities.

The end of the arc was the one the that really got me excited– the final culmination of all the choices made by the gods brought into one point, and it was epic. I was still buzzing from the it long after I finished the book. This is a book I’d definitely read again, and it’s opened by appetite to read more about Norse mythology.

It acts a great, light introduction to the subject.

Audience: I’d say adults for the complexity of the stories themselves.

Rating:

 

Other recommendations: As a huge fan of Gaiman, I’ve made it a point at least try to read everything I can get my hands on. Two I recommend (but did not review yet!); American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, The Graveyard Book and  The Oceans at the End of the Lane. Of the books I reviewed: Neverwhere, Make Good Art, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Good Omen: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter.