TITLE: Norse Mythology
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
BLURB: 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. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman―difficult with his beard and huge appetite―to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir―the most sagacious of gods―is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Neil Gaiman introduces us to his collection of Norse Myths by pointing out his introduction to this rich mine of fantastical stories was through Marvel’s Thor™ as a child. I had an immediate resonance with the book because I too became aware and subsequently engrossed in Norse mythology in exactly the same way. Despite the limited source material available to him he manages to make the strange adventures of Odin, Thor and Loki fresh and modern.
Despite the limited source material available to him he manages to make the strange adventures of Odin, Thor and Loki fresh and modern. Without damaging the rich concepts and language associated with the ancient northern European belief system he manages to make each story accessible and entertaining. This will not doubt become the go-to version of these mythic tales in the same way the collection of fairy tales by the brothers Grimm still terrify and excite us to the present day.
My only very slight criticism would be the mixture of old world style with current expressions can be a bit jarring for my middle-aged ear but in reality, this way of storytelling is exactly what will make these excellent stories accessible and exciting to new generations to come.
Give it a try and you could even use it as a series of scary bedtime stories.