The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.
I was in my early teens the first time I remember falling in love with Norse Mythology, as soon as I discovered the tales of Loki, Odin, Thor, the Valkyrie, Hel and all the other wonderful and powerful Gods of the Vikings (who I was also obsessed with) I ate it up, I would pull books from the library and devour them. That appetite for tales of my favourite Gods has never wavered. I love to see what spin different authors can put on the stories, or even what new stories they can come up with in some cases.
When I heard Neil Gaiman had written his own book of re-tellings I was desperate to get my hands on it and when I picked up the book in the store it was a thing of beauty. With Thor’s hammer embossed in gold on a black background this is a book which is made to feel as special as the contents inside are.
Anybody could pick up this book and start reading the stories inside. Gaiman has opened the book with an introduction to his love of Norse Mythology, and also some background to Norse Mythology itself with a small glossary for those who may be unfamiliar with the main players. The way he has written the stories ensures that people unfamiliar with the stories will get enough explanation to keep up and feel at ease reading while those who are familiar with the stories and characters won’t feel they are being spoon fed.
I was familiar with all of the stories in the book, some more than others but they all felt different with a new tone and that definite Neil Gaiman feel to them. He ensured that each character had an individual personality based on how he wanted to interpret them and followed this through beautifully in each story.
As is often the case (but maybe because he is by far my favourite) Loki was outstanding, playful, cheeky, and devious. I loved how Gaiman played Loki’s cards but he also played some innocence into Loki’s character here and I’ve not seen this so much before which I liked.
It’s very hard to pick between the stories as I thoroughly enjoyed them so much but there were a few which were just completely outstanding and they were:
- The Treasures of the Gods – about how Thor gets his hammer
- The Children of Loki – I have a soft spot for Hel and her story, this is the beginning of it along with that of her brothers.
- Freya’s Unusual Wedding – By far one of the funniest of the stories, and Gaiman tells it wonderfully
- The Story of Gerd and Frey – I loved Gaiman’s telling of this unusual love story
- The Last Days of Loki – I always find this story heartbreaking, Gaiman doesn’t hold back in his telling and it really hit it’s mark
This is an outstanding book which will reignite your love for the Norse Gods, you don’t have to read in one sitting, but can definitely be gone back to time and again.
Book & Buy Links
Title: Norse Mythology
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy | Mythology | Norse Mythology
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 7 February 2017
Review Format: Hardcover
Other Formats: eBook | Paperback | Audio
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen