Books, Review

Book Review: Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman ****

norse mythology neil gaiman book review

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.

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, I’m sure I’ve told you that before. I also love mythology AND I love Marvel movies. What a coincidence that Neil Gaiman decided to write this book (partly) because of his love for Marvel movies.

Let me be very clear, I didn’t learn anything new here. I already knew quite a lot about the Norse myths, this isn’t the first book I’ve read on the matter. I still enjoyed myself however, Gaiman’s writing always pulls me in.

What do you get? Fifteen chapters that more or less correspond with fifteen myths. They give you a general storyline from the beginning of the worlds until the end of the gods (also known as Ragnarok). The best thing? There’s a LOT of Loki. Mind you, not Loki = Son of Odin, brother of Thor but Loki = Blood brother of Odin, bringer of Ragnarok. Not that I prefer one over the other. I love them both equally.

Gaiman has this way of making the magical seem logical. These stories are made up out of mythical beasts, lies, backstabbing and magic and you can just take his word for it. You dive into these worlds and just go along with it. It’s, after all, very entertaining.

I can’t remember if I ever read the end before, the way Gaiman presented it. Can’t remember if it’s always been written this way but man, that took my breath away! I love those endings that just turn it all on its head.

Conclusion: Not my favourite book of the year, mostly because it didn’t tell me anything new but it was so well written and so entertaining that I can’t help but like it.

If you’re at all interested in Neil Gaiman’s writing (and you’re not sure where to start) or you like myths, then I’d certainly recommend this one.

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