Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology

Large Print - 2017
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Having already appropriated Odin and Loki for his novel American Gods, Gaiman turns his restless imagination to a retelling of Norse folklore (a youthful interest of his). He begins by introducing us to the three main mythological figures: Odin, the highest and oldest of the gods; his son, Thor, who makes up in brawn what he lacks in brains; and Loki, offspring of giants and a wily trickster. In a series of stories, we learn how Thor acquired his famous hammer, Mjollnir, how Odin tricked a giant into building a wall around Asgard, the home of the gods, how Loki helped Thor retrieve his hammer from the ogre that had stolen it, and how a visit to the land of the giants resulted in the humbling of Thor and Loki. In most of the stories, a consistent dynamic rules as one god tries to get something over on another god, but novelist that he is, Gaiman also provides a dramatic continuity to these stories that takes us from the birth of the gods to their blood-soaked twilight. Employing dialogue that is anachronistically current in nature, Gaiman has great fun in bringing these gods down to a human level. Like John Gardner in Grendel, a classic retelling of Beowulf, and Philip Pullman in his rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen stories, Gaiman takes a well-worn subject and makes it his own.
Publisher: Waterville : Thorndike Press, 2017.
Edition: Large Print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781410499493
1410499499
Branch Call Number: LARGE PRINT GAIMAN N
Characteristics: large print.
331 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.

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Andrew Kyle Bacon
Aug 08, 2018

For my money, there's hardly anything better than Norse myth. There's a beauty to these stories that lacks any pretense or air of importance. These are folk stories at heart, meant to explain things about the world and how those ancient folk viewed it. The very name of these tales, the "eddas," is possibly derived from the word for "great-grandmother." These are stories grandmothers told.

Neil Gaiman latches on to this and lovingly filters these stories through his own mind and imagination (the process of which he explains briefly at the end of the volume), all the while staying as true to the original sources as he can. This is, to put it simply, clearly a labor of love and it pours off of every page.

There's not much else to say. It's merely a wonderful book.

w
wnoack
Jul 07, 2018

Those who are familiar with Roger Lancelyn Green's novelization of King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table will find Neil Gaiman's novelization of Norse Mythology to be quite similar in format. A collection of stories focused around a handful of legendary characters - from Thor, Odin, Loki, and many other gods, giants and creatures.

Gaiman's writing, compilation and consolidation of these tales makes for a very enjoyable read. That said, throughout my time with his novel, I found myself coming to dislike many of the gods more and more, to the point where I wasn't looking forward to Ragnarok (the end of all things) for an epic battle and conclusion, but more to see these rather despicable, often spoiled, privileged and sometimes abusive characters finally get what's been coming to them. (Of course, I don't put this criticism wholly on Gaiman - he's simply recounting the stories in an updated format).

Outside of the characters being difficult to like, the stories themselves are fascinating, outlandish, and Gaiman's writing will no doubt transport you to the mythical lands of the Nine Realms and beyond, engulfing you in its legends, cultures and ways.

LoganLib_Kirra Jul 01, 2018

Norse Mythology is the perfect collection of short tales inspired from the familiar characters like Thor, Odin, Loki and the ever looming event of Ragnarok. I’ve only read one short story from Neil Gaiman but I know he’s created some fantastic books that so many readers love and I really understand that after reading this book because it was fun and totally enchanting. I love reading about all these stories he was inspired to write about because they all stem from much older stories from so many years ago and it's a great mix of origin and a fresh take. Overall, it was just a fantastic read and all the stories were perfectly enjoyable!

profdavis Jun 04, 2018

Years ago, back when Neil Gaiman was still writing Sandman, I can recall reading a magazine interview in which he was asked if there was in any superhero character at DC or Marvel he would like to write. He replied that he felt he had a great Thor story to tell but that Marvel would never give him the creative freedom he would need to tell it. When I saw that Gaiman had written a book called Norse Mythology with a big hammer on the cover, my first thought was that he had finally written his Thor story.

Instead what we have is a straight ahead retelling of some of the key Norse myths. Sort of an Edith Hamilton's Mythology for the Norse gods. This is clearly a topic that Gaiman is passionate about, and his description of Ragnarok is the highlight of the book, but these are stories that have been told many times. In his introduction, Gaiman laments all the lost Norse tales that did not survive into modern times. I wish Gaiman had taken it upon himself to reinvent those lost stories rather than retell the known ones. All the stories were made up by somebody at sometime, why not tell new stories of Odin and Loki and the others?

JCLAndrewE Jun 01, 2018

Neil Gaiman proves once again his mastery of "The Story" in this retelling of numerous Norse myths. Odin, Thor, Loki and others are brought to new life through his words. From the Norse Creation legend to Ragnarok, and many of the best stories in between. I would strongly suggest the audio version of this book, as Neil Gaiman is an excellent narrator, and it is such a rare treat to hear stories in the author's own voice.

l
Linyarai
Apr 15, 2018

I loved this, it was a fantastic retelling of Norse myths in a way that kept the characters interesting and easy to keep track of.

d
deebitner
Mar 15, 2018

Reading Neil Gaiman is usually a joy, but I found many reasons to be more delighted than usual with this lovely volume of Norse myth. I am going to go ahead and say this is a five of five star review, and I'm happy to say why.

To begin with, this is a book which can in large part be shared with children. The ancients weren't known for being delicate about sex and violence, but Gaiman has a great way of getting those points across in a way kids can understand. (See "The Wolves In The Walls" or "Coraline" for his style - they're scary, even bloody, but they're not gross.) I thoroughly enjoyed reading parts out loud to my son, and he laughed and made faces at all the right parts. Obviously, with any book it's parental discretion, but I found this fantastic to share.

Next are the sources of the humor. This is a bit more subtle, but oh-so-welcome. It doesn't take a genius to understand that sexism is and has been a thing for generation upon generation. (Although less in the Nordic cultures than many - a point Gaiman clearly enjoys.) Some of the biggest myths have people dressing up as the opposite sex, or even changing form into another species. Gaiman never makes that the source of a joke, though. Instead, he finds other things to make funny, like a giant waiting for his stallion to return, or Thor being told (over and over again) to shut up. I like that much better than shaming humor.

Gaiman doesn't mind at all writing his dialogue to be read or spoken aloud. (Far from it - he makes a point of that in his introduction.) And who better than a comic book writer to appreciate the gift he's been given by the Marvel movies? He makes it clear that the Marvel characters are not the same as their mythological predecessors. At the same time it's obvious that Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, and Idris Elba could have read these lines and enjoyed them. I am not ashamed of having heard the dialogue in these talented voices and hope others will get as big a kick out of it as I did.

I haven't yet read the Sagas and the Eddas myself. I know that may have impacted my enjoyment here, but I can only recommend this book as one more in a series of tellings of tales that still live as long as we tell them.

s
sstpierre
Mar 13, 2018

Light and fun reading.

h
humbleworm
Dec 23, 2017

As a child, I read all the Norse myths and preferred them over the Greek/Roman ones, which I also read. I didn't find Gaiman's retelling particularly inspired or engaging unfortunately, but then I was expecting a novelization.

k
kguerito
Nov 14, 2017

Great book, I thought it was hilarious to read the story how Thor got his hammer stolen and he had to dress up in drag to steal it back, or how bad poetry was created by Odin's wet farts.

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shayshortt
Feb 21, 2017

In the beginning, there was nothing but the mist world and the fire world. From these came Ymir, a giant both male and female, the first of all beings. Ymir was slain by Odin, called the all-father, for Odin both created the gods that you will read about here, and breathed life into the first humans. In these pages, Thor will acquire his famous hammer, the mighty Mjollnir. Loki will get his fellow gods into and out of trouble countless times, until he finally plays the trick that will lose him their trust once and for all. Witness the creation of the great walls of Asgard, the genesis of the gift of poetry, and the source of the gods’ immortality, as retold by Neil Gaiman.

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shayshortt
Feb 21, 2017

There were things Thor did when something went wrong. The first thing he did was ask himself if what had happened was Loki’s fault. Thor pondered. He did not believe that even Loki would have dared to steal his hammer. So he did the next thing he did when something went wrong, and went to ask Loki for advice.

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