I bought Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology last year at YALC, and as part of my challenge to read all of the books I bought last year before the event (which I have done now, reviews to come), I read this book.
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 found this book quite dry as I felt that there was no soul in the stories. They were presented in a very factual way with little to connect me to the characters, in the way that I would expect from an established novelist. While I am sure that the stories are accurately told, I was left not caring about the adventures.
“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”
I thought that this book would be very immersive and would transport me to the nine worlds, but I was left feeling aware that I was reading a book. I feel that this thought was more through my attitude going in. It reads very much like a nonfiction book, rather than the fantasy anthology I thought I was getting.
Of course it was Loki. It’s always Loki.
The stories chosen were interesting, but I felt that they weren’t related and while in chronological order, there was little that made me why those stories were chosen. I don’t know my Norse mythology very well (which is why I bought the book) but I thought that the stories would be more cohesive and telling an overall story.