Published by Bloomsbury on February 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
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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.
Neil Gaiman, master storyteller, is back. This time, he’s retelling ancient tales of the Norse gods – the likes of Odin, Thor and Loki.
Interested in finding out where Thor got his hammer? Or why the tides ebb and flow? You’ll find the answers in these stories.
There are fifteen stories in all, spanning from creation to Ragnarok, forming a loose timeline spanning millennia. I was concerned going into this book – the only other Gaiman I’ve read has been American Gods, which is very dark. But the Norse tales, while occasionally violent, retain a mixture of cool detachment mixed with light-hearted fun.
Gaiman explains in his introduction that he tried to discard the comics and other retellings of his childhood, and go back to very old versions of the tales. They are almost like fairytales or fables, with a moral to each story, but they do flow into and complement each other.
Some of the tales are well-known, while others were new to me. Gaiman has made the stories accessible and often hilarious, while still writing in a classical style. The stories involving Thor and Loki are especially funny – Loki is up to his usual tricky and cunning self, and with Thor not being the brightest God in Asgard, he falls for every jape.
Gaiman’s Norse Mythology reminded me of Magnus Chase, Rick Riordan’s middle-grade series. Many of the stories of Valhalla and the nine worlds have also been retold there, so if your middle-grader is finding this one a little beyond them, they might like to try Magnus Chase.
My only complaint about this book was that it’s less than 300 pages long. I could happily read for hours more about the antics of the gods! Still, I’ll be leaving this book in a prominent place for my children to enjoy, one day.
Would you like to win a copy of Norse Mythology? Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia, I have a copy here for one lucky winner from Australia. You can enter via the rafflecopter form below.
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