Norse Mythologyby Neil Gaiman Published 07 Feb 2017
|Publisher||W. W. Norton Company|
Download Norse Mythology (2014) PDF ePub eBook
- 1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.
- 2. Download as many books as you like.
- 3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.
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.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Gaiman is, without a doubt, one of the most multi-talented writers alive today. I don’t say this out of a sense of personal bias, but with a degree of objectivity. Not only does he write fantastic comics, intelligent children’s stories and detailed novels about the nature of godhood (even if I didn’t personally enjoy them all), he also has adapted Norse mythology and re-written it with his modern stylish flair.
He really is a talented man; he is capable of that rare, rare, thing of being able to write fiction that is worthy of literary criticism but is also ridiculously popular and, well, just plain cool. He has many years of writing ahead of him (I hope.) And I don’t think it is too far a thing to suggest that he may win the noble prize for literature in his lifetime. He has contributed much to the arts, and this work here shows he has much more to give. I think he really deserves it.
So here he has retold some already excellent stories. In doing so he makes them approachable and, perhaps even, more engaging for a reader today. I do like old poetry, though not everyone does. I think this can be taken as either an introduction to such works or simply as it is at face value. And it really is what it says on the cover: it’s a whole bunch or Norse stories about some familiar faces. We have Odin, conniving and powerful. We have Thor, strong and honourable. And we have Loki, cunning and ingenious with his own complex intentions. They do battle with each other, with the elements and a whole host of nasties. But not before Gaiman takes the time to provide you with guided tour of Yggdrasil and the nine worlds that take root from her. He clearly establishes the confounds of this mythology before he even begins.
The collection ends with the most appropriate tale of them all, Ragnarok: the final destiny of the gods. It spends the entirety of the collection building up to it:
“Until now I have told you of things that have happened in the past- things that happened a long time ago.
Now I shall tell you of the days to come”
Thus we witness the end of time. The gods fight in one final glorious battle. Loki, naturally, does not fight with the gods of Asgard. Instead he leads the armies of the dead against them. Many of the gods will die, and the pattern will begin anew as their offspring pick up the weapons of their slain forbears; ultimately, taking on their mantels. The cycle continues, as Gaiman captures the heart of Norse mythology here.
What I also noticed is how these tales have affected his other works. Sure, the characters are different; yes, the setting is warped into something else, but you can clearly see how writing this, and researching this, has oozed out into his other projects. This ideas of rejuvenation is repeated in the Sandman series, for example. Gaiman also narrates his personal journey in the introduction; this book has been a long time coming: this topic has clearly helped to propel much of his writing, and it really is worth hearing about.
I am no longer a Neil Gaiman virgin. Being a mythology nut, I practically devoured it in one sitting.
Frey and Freyja
Definitely short, but imminently readable. This is one of the best straight mythology books I've read when it comes to pure enjoyment.
I say this, fully aware that I'm a Gaiman fanboy, and yet, I still mean it. :)
Don't look for fiction here. Rather, look for the source material and a clear understanding of the Norse mythos as far as we have it. So much has been lost and then, there's a ton of fragments. Alas. But what we do have is quite cool.
My personal favorite was the story of Baldur's murder and the attempt to raise him up from Hel's domain. Hel even agrees, graciously, to let him come back from the dead as long as not a single person on any level of the World Tree refuses to weep for the man. Baldur is a sweet man that makes the flowers grow, for goodness sake... and it was a very close race... but you know how these things go.
We all know that LOKI is the reason we can't have nice things. Forget children. I blame Loki. :)
I love the fact that wits and brawn are held in equal esteem, but I sure wish there was a lot more stories about the women. There's plenty of hints. Just lost fragments, however. It's a shame.
Still, what we've got is enough to whet anyone's appetite and I even think this is a perfectly appropriate text for young ones, too. I definitely plan on reading it to my kid once she holds still long enough for it. :) It'll be a nice companion to the The Kalevala and some Greek stuff, too. :)
Go Fenrir! (I'd really love to see Cthulhu go up against him.)
In the beginning, there was nothing but mist and flames.
At least, that's what the Edda claims.
I've always been fascinated with Norse Mythology (and with everything ancient in general). With its strong impact on Marvel's movies, metal music and J.R.R. Tolkien, the AllFather of high fantasy, references to the mighty Gods of Asgard, and the impending twilight thereof, are a part of daily life. Neil Gaiman did not invent a story from the start. He had the material, the facts, the descriptions ready. Yet Norse Mythology is the stellar proof of his tremendous talent and ingenuity, because like a new Odin, he instilled breath in myths existing for thousands of years, he commanded to life frost giants, demons, dwarves, elves, Æsir and Vanir alike, and crafted a marvelous collection of stories, ideal to read them in a cold winter's night, next to a grinding fire, holding a cup of warm content, while your mind travels in wild landscapes and flies in the form of a raven, spying the creation of the world and its destruction, only to be reborn again. For in Norse Mythology, it is obvious that rebirth always follows death.
“Behind the depth, before the height
Surrounded by the serpent Jörmundgand
World of man in the middle
Of heat and ice built by the Ymer brow”
One of the most astonishing things you realise while reading Norse Mythology, is that human minds work in a similar manner all over the world. You can't help but notice the similarities with other mythologies, the traditions of people who thrived miles away. Take the creation of the Nine Worlds for example: there was a flood, one created by Ymer's blood, that destroyed all life only to start it anew. You will notice the same pattern in Greek Mythology, with Deucalion and Pyrrha, in Genesis, with Noah's ark, and many other cultures, like the Aboriginal tribes and the Mayas. You will also discover the origins of the Middle Earth's creation, and the races inhabiting it, and you'll marvel at the parallels between Gjallerhorn, which will be blown by Heimdall at the end of all things to wake the Gods, and the Horn of Valere which will summon the Heroes to battle in Tarmon Gai'don, the Final Battle, in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. It's chilling, and strangely satisfying.
Odin, Thor and Loki are the main dramatis personae, followed by Freyr and Freya, Baldr and Týr. Through Neil Gaiman's eyes, his witty narration infused with humour, subtle comments and foreboding, you witness Odin's quest for wisdom, and the price he had to pay to acquire it; you will find out how Loki made Sif go bald, and thus the greatest treasures came to the possesion of the Gods; you will follow a strange man's efforts to create the walls of Asgard, demanding to be paid with the sun, the moon and beautiful Freya.
Blue her eyes
Gold of hair
A maiden so fair”
You will shiver before the children of Loki, the serpent of Midgard, the lady of the realm of the Dead, and wolf Fenrir, the demise of the Gods.
“I watched as he shouted
To the giants who died that day
He held up his hammer high
And called to Odin for a sign”
You will laugh at Thor's disguise in order to take back Mjolnir, and taste the heavenly mead of Poetry and Widsom, which was made of blood; you'll visit the land of the giants alongside Thor and Loki and you'll be tricked by illusions; you'll search for the apples of Iðunn which grant eternal youth (apples of Hesperides anyone?) after the Gods lost them thanks to Loki; you'll see Freyr finding his missing part; you will steal the cauldron that brews the greatest beer; and you will mourn the death of the Sun.
“Honour your brother's name, unarmed or blind
Let me aid you in your aim, don't stay behind
Let's maim immortality and death to a deity”
You will find out how the first fishing net was created and why, and finally, you will freeze in the Coldest Winter, the prelude to the extinction of mankind, and the Twilight of the Gods.
See the earth go up in flames
The great serpent writhes in rage
The doom of gods now hath come
The fall of the sun
The gates of Hel devour the dead
At the twilight of the gods”
Neil Gaiman's pantheon is ruled by the same passions, desires and ambitions with the mortals. His Gods are naive and cruel, spontaneous and bloodthirsty; Thor is not particularly bright (nor as hot as Chris Hemsworth), and Loki is a spiteful creature, a puppeteer, a troublemaker and by the end, you'll crave his suffering.
“Asgard's always been my home
But I'm of different blood
I will overthrow the throne
Deceiver of the gods!”
Norse Mythology may not be original in its content, but it is innovative and deeply inspiring in its prose, and the blessed talent of the hand that wrote it. It is a quick and relaxing read I highly recommend if you're searching for your next epic adventure!
“Thor! Odin's son
Protector of mankind
Ride to meet your fate
Your destiny awaits”
*Buddy read with Eliasdgian*
Playlist (in order of lyrics' appearance)
Midgard - Therion
Frøya's Theme - Leave's Eyes
Thor - Manowar
Brother's Bane - Týr
Ragnarök - Stormwarrior
Deceiver of the Gods - Amon Amarth
Twilight of the Thunder God - Sabaton (Amon Amarth cover)
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