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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Review (Part 2)

Hello, one and all, you may be feeling a sense of déjà vu right now. Didn't we already cover Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman? In a sense, yes, but Kori and I are two different bloggers, and we both wanted to give this book a go. I mean, it's Neil Gaiman. Hence, you shall receive two reviews. You are welcome.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman book review by book blog Coffee, Book, & Candle in honor of the Norsevember reading challenge.

Genre: Mythology Nonfiction


Category: Cozy Read

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Rating: 5/5 Stars


Pairing: Pot roast + Scandinavian wine

THE STRUCTURE


I'll begin by admitting, mythology buff that I am, I'm still not overly familiar with Norse mythology. Many of the tales contained in Norse Mythology, I had heard or read in some variation or other, but never sat down to analyze them in their entirety.


Thankfully, Gaiman makes that task easier. There are no complex and lengthy explanations of ancestry, of history, or of the influences Norse culture had on the tales. While all of that would certainly be useful, it's nice to have a focused and casual exploration of the myths on their own.


Mythology is all about storytelling, yet so many books I've picked up go on tangents about the history, the customs, and the unending variations of the same tales that it's a headache to get to the actual myth.


But, ah, master of storytelling Neil Gaiman is here to condense those important Norse tales into a single, cohesive narrative with his customary lilting prose that makes one feel as if they're by the fire listening to a skald.


THE STORYTELLING


This book was an extremely fast read, yet there's nothing lacking. There's no sense of too much being left out. The tales are expanded on where it matters: characterization, setting, emotions—it all comes alive on the page. Even though you're reading about the impossible feats of the gods, they feel real, three-dimensional, complex. They have motivations and personalities, joys and woes, flaws and foibles.


This is the sort of thing I'm often missing from mythology books. When we read the tales, we don't just want to know what happened—we want to know how, why, and how it affected the characters in question. This is precisely what Gaiman's retellings give us, in addition to his signature dash of tongue-in-cheek humor.


THE ENDING


The end of the book wraps up with the end of the world, Ragnarok. The day Loki and his children will break free of their bonds and destroy the world. They will battle with the Norse gods. Some will fall, including the mighty Odin and Thor.


As a mythology nerd, there's nothing quite like an end of the world tale. It's fascinating on a morbid level, but there's usually little to no detail to go off of. Most apocalypse mythologies leave us with a vague image of "fire and flood and probably lots of death."


Norse Mythology paints Ragnarok the way I always imagined: epic, earth-shattering, and full of emotion as family meet with family on the battlefield and the gods face off with their eternal enemies.


Most importantly, I love how the book leaves off on a message of hope. Some of the gods survive, as do two humans who will repopulate the earth. The fires are quenched in the floods, which wash away the ashes and leave the world green and new.



Enjoy this review? Share it with friends or grab a copy for yourself below!


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman book review by book blog Coffee, Book, & Candle in honor of the Norsevember reading challenge.

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