Review

Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

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I read this book in a couple of days last week and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is a collection of Norse mythology, from Scandinavia centuries ago, retold by Neil Gaiman.  In order to write this book, he read translations of original Norse texts and other famous retellings.  In the disclaimer in the front of the book, Gaiman writes that they are simply his interpretations and he very much allows his own voice to come through in the stories.

I knew a little of Norse mythology before I read this book.  After watching the Marvel film about Thor, I became interested in the myths that influenced Marvel to create their versions of these characters.  It was then that I attempted to read the classic Norse text. Prose Edda, one of the texts Gaiman read in order to write his versions of the stories.  At the time, I struggled to read it as I had little background knowledge of the characters or events.  Norse Mythology has given me the knowledge to hopefully revisit Prose Edda as it details a number of Norse myths simply yet still beautifully written.

Inside this book are summaries of the main gods to remember, a glossary of names, objects and places – which is a very helpful reference point – and stories from the creation of the worlds to the destruction of them (Ragnarok).  Most stories follow the adventures of Odin, Thor and Loki although there are many different gods, giants and monsters throughout the book.  These stories tell of how the worlds were created and where the first gods came from; the origin of Thor’s hammer; why Odin only has one eye, and what that has got to do with his immense knowledge and wisdom; how earthquakes are caused by a chained up Loki; and how many times monsters have tried to marry Freya but failed.

I really enjoyed reading these stories and learning about a mythology I didn’t know much about.  I especially enjoyed learning about how different the real myths are from the Marvel comics version!  I would strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn the basics of Norse mythology is a way that is fun and exciting to read.

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