Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing/ Bloomsbury India

Fiction: Mythology, 282p

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book summary

The great Norse myths, which have inspired so much of modern fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, who spurns those who seek to control her.

From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

About the author:

Neil Richard Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. He has been a journalist interviewer and wrote book reviews to begin with. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008)

My Review*

*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Neil Gaiman is a master when it comes to creating characters and fictional settings that make a place in the imagination and affection of his readers. Throw in mythology and you have a heady mix already in your hands considering the author has worked extensively in the comic and TV world, which makes his writing very contemporary and full of imagery and action that one can almost feel while reading.

Norse mythologies have not been much known till the time the Marvel character universe unfolded on film screens and I was tickled to find that Gaiman himself took up writing this book after watching the film made him explore Norse Gods and parables and myths. This is not to say that Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is contemporary popular culture: far from it for the stories and characters are based on serious readings of Norse mythology based poems and writings which the author has breathed new life to.

The book is a narrative rendered in short story form and read like character sketches as well as giving readers some anecdotes about the Nordic world before humans: the world of gods and giants and dwarves and magical powers. What struck me while reading this book was how across regions and cultures and mythologies, there are elements of good and evil and the mischief making elements who wreck havoc in the scheme of things. Hence, there is Lucifer in Christian world and there is Narad Munni and to some extent, the character of Krishna in the Hindu iconology. In the Nordic world of course, there is Loki who relishes being his crazy naughty self.

The Norse mythology is a huge universe and Gaiman has not only selected themes of loyalty, family ties, the ravages of time, annihilation and new beginnings but also features a laugh out loud chapter on the creation of good poetry and bad poetry.

Mythologies are often steeped in heavy word flow or kept at their most simple form so they appeal to young readers but in Gaiman’s hands, Norse Mythology has a crackling appeal that keeps readers enthralled by its pace and way Loki cocks a snook at the various Gods and their serious demeanors. My only complaint is that Gaiman has not given us enough of the women in the Norse mythology universe.