Norse Mythologyby Neil Gaiman Published 07 Feb 2017
|Publisher||W. W. Norton & Company|
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Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.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.
"Norse Mythology" Reviews
I've always loved mythology, folktales and legends. They are the original fairy tales of humanity and, given the timeless fairytale quality to Gaiman's writing, it seemed to follow that he would be the perfect writer for a book of Norse mythology. He is. In fact, Gaiman seems born to write (or rewrite) myths.
Norse mythology is actually one I've always been less familiar with. I know Greek, Roman and Egyptian fairly well, and some Indian as well, but my knowledge of Norse mythology kind of ends at Odin, Loki, Thor and Thor's hammer. And even then I don't know much about what they all did. To me, this book was very interesting and informative as well as a compelling pageturner.
Gaiman recreates Norse myths in his signature style, with a bit of humour, a whole bunch of complex characters, and a big serving of charm. He makes the stories feel modern and fresh, yet still timeless. You feel like you're reading about millennia-old gods, but it's very accessible to today's reader.
Norse Mythology is told in short stories. Some of the chapters are very short - only a page or two long - and others are slightly longer. I liked how easy it was to dip in and out of. I could go read some of my other books between stories and return to this without a problem. I know ease of reading should not be a top priority, but it is great to find a book that makes experiencing its stories as easy and non-demanding as possible.
It is fast-paced and action-packed, but what shines through most of all is how all these stories tie into important aspects of the real world - as stories about gods tend to do. This is a fascinating portrait of a time and a people who really truly believed in Odin and Loki and their many escapades. It's funny, it's eye-opening, and it's very enjoyable.
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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a compulsively readable retelling of various myths from Norse Mythology.
Once upon a time, in that hazy prehistoric time before Goodreads, Neil Gaiman was my favorite author. Sandman was the gateway drug but I read all the Gaiman works I could get my hands on: American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline, Stardust, you get the point. As the years went by, some of the shine wore off that penny. As I explored Gaimain's influences, like P.G. Wodehouse and Ray Bradbury, some of the magic was diminished.
Anyway, I heard Gaimain was writing this book and my interest was rekindled. I've been curious about Norse mythology since reading my first Thor comic. Gaimain delivers the goods here.
In Norse Mythology, Gaimain retells fifteen Norse myths, from the creation of the Aesir to Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, making them accessible to the modern reader.
All of the Norse gods you're familiar with from pop culture, namely Odin, Thor, Loki, Balder, and Heimdall, are here, as well as a slew of others like Vidar, Kvasir, and Hod. I was tangentially aware of some of what transpired, like Loki giving birth to a six-legged horse and Odin hanging from Yggdrasil, the world tree, for nine days and nights before gaining his wisdom, but a lot of it was new to me. The Aesir sure liked to booze it up, didn't they?
While there was quite a bit to like about this book, the thing that really stuck in my mind was Naglfar, the ship of the dead made out of fingernails. Really. Loki tying his junk to the beard of a goat for entertainment purposes was right up there, though.
Reading Norse Mythology, I noticed echoes of it in fantasy novels I've read in past couple decades, most notably The Elric Saga Part II and The First Chronicles of Amber. For my money, this is the best thing Gaimain has done since The Graveyard Book (though Doctor Who: Nothing O'Clock was also pretty sweet.) Four out of five stars.
First off the cover of this book is amaze balls! I just freaking love it! ❤
Many gods and goddesses are named in Norse mythology. You will meet quite a few of them in these pages. Most of the stories we have, however, concern two gods, Odin and his son Thor, and Odin's blood brother, a giant's son called Loki, who lives with the Aesir in Asgard.
I have always wanted to read a good book on Norse Mythology and I think Neil Gaiman did a great job explaining some things before the stories.
The different stories were awesome, okay, some were mean and what not but they were just so awesome. Stories of the gods and giants and ogres and cunning and trickery. I just loved it.
This book isn't very long at all and the stories are short but I think they were still great. We don't always have to read big tomes to get good stories =) That being said, I think this would have been a cool trilogy of stories, but that's just my opinion. I would liked to have seen two more books.
I think that anyone that loves the gods will love or like this book. I would recommend it for all of the great stories. I can see how they all wanted to drop-kick Loki across the room =)
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Gilgamesh from Mesopotamian religion, Izanagi from Japanese creation myth and Zeus from Greek myth. These are a few popular figures from many mythologies around the globe. I’m here to let you know my thoughts on one of the most popular and well known mythology, Norse Mythology, told by Neil Gaiman with Odin, Thor, and Loki at the center of the lore.
Norse mythology has always been one of the foundations used for most fictional stories in our time. I grew up playing tons of video games that were based on these myths without even realizing that they were based on the mythology in the first place. For instance, Odin as a summon in Final Fantasy franchise, Einherjar that were taken to Valhalla by the Valkyrie in preparation for Ragnarok in Valkyrie Profile series, or Yggdrasil, the tree of life that were depicted in Breath of Fire III but I won’t bore you with these countless video games adaptations.
Let’s do the most famous example: Thor and Loki from Marvel Universe. This franchise is so damn popular that every time the name Thor and Loki were mentioned, I can’t help but envisioned Chris Hemsworth and Toms Hiddleston as the canon facial features, flaunting their long hair everywhere like they’re in a shampoo commercial. (No idea why, they just do.)
Picture: Hair of the Gods
Anyway, my point is, Norse mythology is a really important source of material for our current media entertainment and I admit, it has always been one of my favorite mythologies along with Japanese, Greek and Rome mythology.
Norse Mythology is an EXACT retelling of Poetic Edda, the source material of the myth, which is already fantastic in its own way. Neil Gaiman did a great job in adapting the source into a collection of short stories with his own words that made it enjoyable to read, especially for beginner to the myth but for me who’s been fed with this myth for almost 20 years, I wish there’s something new to be found here. For those of you who don’t know, the basic outline of Norse Mythology is about the creation of the worlds until the final battle between the Gods and the creatures that will destroy the worlds. In case someone who doesn’t know about the myth stumbled upon this review, I won’t tell you about the battle itself other than in my opinion, it's always epic, in all adaptations.
Picture: An example of the kind of battle you’ll find in Ragnarok.
I find Neil’s retelling enjoyable to read but I do have two main problems with it.
-First, as I mentioned before, for those of you who’ve known about this myth already, you won’t find anything new here, this is an EXACT retelling that it almost feel like a copy and paste to me. I came into this book with the expectation that it will be a full novel with Neil’s own rendition of the myth but nope, you can actually go to Wikipedia, search Norse Mythology and voila, you’ll find the story told here.
-Secondly, this is a really expensive book for its content. It cost $20 where I live and for a 2 to 3 hour read of a story I’ve heard about almost my whole life is really not worth it. I received this book from my friend otherwise I’ll feel so robbed personally.
“The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.”
Overall, I personally still think that this book is a great introduction to the myth. The original source, the Poetic Edda languages are hard to dive into and it’s more of an info dump compared to this. Despite not finding anything original here, I still find it enjoyable and good to read.
I definitely recommend this to any Norse Mythology beginner, Neil Gaiman did a great job in this retelling and it’s so easy to understand the words he wrote. Plus, Norse Mythology is one of the best myths out there. You owe it to yourself to read it if you’re interested in knowing more about the original tale of Odin, Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Balder, Fenrir, Mjollnir and many more names, I'll let you find out about them by yourself.
Picture: Norse Mythology by Marc Simonetti
You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at Booknest
I am no longer a Neil Gaiman virgin. Being a mythology nut, I practically devoured it in one sitting.
Frey and Freyja
What a fantastic retelling of Norse Myths. Featuring such characters as Odin, Thor and Loki along with a host of other lesser known gods and characters.
Gaiman does his best to stick to the source material and not stray too far from the myths themselves, writing it in his own language which really brings the stories to life. By doing this, Gaiman has written the perfect place to start if you want to learn more about Norse Mythology in my view.
What really added to my enjoyment was that I had read the Poetic Edda before this, so I had an inclination as to which myths would get the Gaiman treatment.
It’s basically a collection of short stories, with a large Ragnarok story at the end. Amongst my favourites were:
• How Thor receives Mjollnir (Treasures of the Gods)
• When Thor has to dress up as a bride to get Mjollnir back (Freya’s unusual wedding)
• The story of the cauldron the Gods want so they can get drunk a lot (Hymir and Thor’s fishing expedition)
• The mead of Poetry (Mead of poets)
My favourite though, was Thor’s journey to the land of the giants. It’s one of the longer tales in the book where Thor and his companions are put through their paces in a number of physical contests.
Gaiman stays true to how the characters are described within the ancient myths. The characters are different to what people have come to expect from Marvel films. Thor is a bit of a dumb meat head. Odin is treacherous and ultimately clever. Loki is even more conniving than the film/comic book version.
Gaiman starts the book by saying that Norse myths are his favourites, and this shows with the level of care he gives the source material whilst adding his own spin to the tales. Norsemen also play a large part in American Gods.
I listened to this on audiobook and Gaiman’s narration is great. Something really special happens when writers narrate their own works. The passion comes across when they read their own works. I’d recommend any of Gaiman’s audiobooks.
Gaiman has definitely drank from Odin’s Gift (from the nice end!) and this is a must-read for anyone interested in Norse / Viking history. I already want to reread this, it was that good and it’s short enough to be read in a couple of days.