Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

 

norse mythology

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a fun, fast-paced and modern retelling of the classic stories about the Norse gods and their adventures. We get a personal tour of Yggdrasil, the nine realms, and follow the gods through from the start of the universe all the way to Ragnarok, the final battle at the end of the world.

All your favourites – Thor, Odin, Loki, etc – appear frequently throughout, and form the focal point of most of the tales. Thankfully though, there are also plenty of other characters who are less well known throughout these stories as well. This isn’t to say to say that the stories involving the more familiar Norse gods are bad, but simply that I, and many other readers, are more familiar with them from their roles in the recent Marvel films and comics, and that it was interesting to learn about other characters from the Norse myths. In relation to our core characters, I was extremely glad Gaiman highlighted some of the key differences between the Marvel versions of these characters and their true Norse equivalents. I must admit, I would have gone on thinking Loki really was Thor’s brother and not Odin’s blood-brother. The writing of the characters is fantastic; the essential essences of each character shines through in the telling of each story. I personally feel that Loki was done exceptionally well. His sense of mischief and chaos was brilliantly captured in this book. You really can believe him to be a god of trickery every time he makes an appearance.

The shortish length and style of writing really suit the theme of the book. For me, this was one of the really successes of this book. In this way, I believe it stays true to the soul of the old stories. They weren’t meant to be written down, or told in one big sitting, but would have been told around fires in the depths of a Scandinavian winter to entertain children and explain the world. Not only this, but the way Gaiman writes feels easily accessible and I believe that a wide range of readers and ages would be able to pick up this book and enjoy them. It would make an especially good starting point for those fans of the Marvel Universe who are looking to venture into new styles of writing as many of the characters will be familiar to them, though there are enough differences to keep them feeling fresh.

All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this book. In fact, it has prompted me to add other mythology books to my reading list. It may not be by Neil Gaiman, but I am quite excited to get my hands on Mythos by Stephan Fry now.