Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Review
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
November is here, and as cooler temperatures arrive here in SoCal, they carry with them a longing to curl up with a magical read. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman was just what the doctor ordered. Since I am not as familiar with this pantheon, it was the perfect book to kick off my #Norsevember reading list!
As my blog-buddy has not finished it yet, I'll be keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible!
Genre: Fantasy Fiction/Fairy Tales
Category: Cozy Read
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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Pairing: Mead + dried meats
First off, I'd like to address what can be one of the most intimidating parts of learning about another culture: names and pronunciations. If you're worried about trying to remember all these new characters, creatures, and places, don't worry; Gaiman has provided a glossary in the back of the book!
If you're like me, you want to know the proper way to pronounce something; otherwise, there is a level of detachment from the story. While we have Marvel's Thor series I could refer back to, I figure the Americanized pronunciations might be a bit off. Thankfully, YouTuber Hrafna is here to help us out with a funny three-part series of traditional Icelandic pronunciations. Check out part one here! Now, onto the good stuff!
No, not that—though it is distracting!
A WHOLE MOOD
The first story within this tome is that of a boy who is fascinated by the stories he reads in his comic books about the gods of Asgard. He's so enamored by them that he dedicates much of his time to studying them. Gaiman's note to readers shows that this book is a passion project produced out of love, which makes his retellings feel more authentic and gives an added sense of intimate coziness.
I loved Gaiman's style of storytelling, which made me feel as though I were reading a much older book of tales, or listening to an elder at a bonfire. There is adventure, magic, and also betrayal, trickery, murder. The quips he weaves into the mix remind me of the voices of Percy Jackson or Magnus Chase (which I'll be reviewing for you soon!). To top off the cozy feeling, I could recognize bits and pieces of fairytales I am more familiar with: Jack the Giant Killer, Red Riding Hood, and more.
After establishing the tone, Gaiman opens with an introduction to the top dogs of Nordic lore: Odin the All-father; his son Thor, god of thunder; and his blood-brother Loki, god of mischief. He also gives a quick overview of the Creation story and history of the gods, Yggdrasil (the world tree), and the Nine Realms before presenting some of the more popular myths, wrapping it up by painting a picture of Ragnarok, the end of days.
He tells us about the incredible creations of the dwarves, the terrifying children of Loki, how the gods got their various brews, apples that grant immortality, and many of Thor's adventures- like that time he wore a wedding dress.
My personal favorite stories are the last three: The Death of Balder, reminiscent of the Greek story of the kidnapping of Persephone (one of my favorites!); The Last Days of Loki, where the gods of Asgard serve Loki a Karma Sandwich; and Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods, which is the epic conclusion as well as a new beginning.
GOOD VIBES ONLY
Honestly, I have no complaints about this book. It is absolutely perfect for anyone new to Nordic lore and entertaining as hell for those already familiar with the Nine Realms and their inhabitants. You can tell he put his all into making this a quality piece of work. What more could you ask for, besides for it to be thicker, full of more stories?
Since you'll be wanting to grab your own copy, here's a little linkity-link. I know I'll be getting my own hardcover as well as an audiobook, because I bet the only thing better than reading Gaiman's rendition of these tales is having him read them to you.
Enjoy this review? Share it with a friend when you inevitably recommend the book! Already read this one? Let me know what you thought about it! Which story did you enjoy most?