Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 1


So my reading habits are sporadic at best. I tend to go through phases of wanting to read as much as I can and then forgetting about books entirely for some undefined time. A trip to the Hay festival was enough to kick start this phase of reading, to be fair it is hard to not get excited about reading when surrounded by so many books, book lovers and authors!

Whilst in the bubble of books, I got swept up and bought Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Norse Mythologies (more precisely the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda). Having always wanted to read about the exploits of Odin, Thor, Loki, et al this updating and more accessible version of the ancient stories enticed me to give it a go. And from the beginning I was glad that I did. With a great foreword from the author, recounting his experiences with the original translations and how it has effected his writing (and looking at his output it has very much impacted his direction!). But it is his retelling of the myths that has allowed me to devour the entire book (if not the entire collection of myths. That is to come).

To begin with we are introduced to the world of the Norse gods and there are very definite parallels to the language of The Silmarrillion but this only lasts as long as it takes to describe the 9 worlds and their genesis. Once the stage has been set we move on pretty quickly to the gods and their relationships with others and their worlds. The Norse gods are violent, childish, tricky, humourous and always getting into trouble. Oh, and they appear to hate pretty much all of the giants (who appear to be quite prevalent throughout the nine worlds connected to Yggdrasil, The World Tree) who cause the gods no end of troubles and stress but usually get their comeuppance and then some.

The stories are interesting and short enough to get through in no time at all, told in separate, unlinked chapters you get a variety of heroes and villains, although the most are about the big three (Odin, Thor, Loki). It was interesting to find out about some of the other names that I have heard about but never knew about. Also, to find out how and why Odin lost his eye, how Thor got his hammer and how Ragnarok comes about.

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Totally well worth the read, even more so when it will be coming out in paperback. The hardback is a lovely looking book, and under the dust jacket it is embossed with a golden hammer (wonder where they got that idea from?)

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