Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (March 6, 2018)
Page Count: 299 pages
I freaking love mythologies and this book is like a dream of mine. I've always loved Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology so it's so amazing to see mythological tales written out in novel form. It's the best idea. THANK YOU, NEIL GAIMAN!
The Plot: This is a novel telling of all of the Norse myths in chronological order, starting from the world's beginning to the world's end. I loved reading them all told this way because it allowed for more bonding with the different Norse gods as watch their adventures and mourn when they come to an end.
The Characters: I love Thor and I found myself laughing at his dynamics with Loki. Loki is great as well with his dynamics with well everyone. He just makes so much trouble. He even has an interesting downward spiraling character arc. Odin is far more shrouded in mystery than in the Marvel movies which I found jarring yet fascinating.
I also laughed so much at these parts:
There were things Thor did when something went wrong. The first thing he did was ask himself if what happened was Loki's fault. Thor pondered. He did not believe even Loki would have dared to steal his hammer. So he did the next thing he did when things went wrong, and he went to ask Loki for advice.
~ Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
"I'd like to borrow your feathered cloak," said Loki. "The one that lets you fly.""Absolutely not," said Freya. "That cloak is the most valuable thing I possess. It's more valuable than gold. I'm not having you wearing it and going around and making mischief.""Thor's hammer has been stolen," said Loki. "I need to find it.""I'll get you the cloak," said Freya."~ Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanThe Setting: Since this is set in Scandinavia this really brought me back to when I visited Iceland with the mountains, rivers, and oceans.
Epic Things: I really like how in the Norse origin of the world story Odin breathes life into ash and elmwood to make man and woman. They also have their versions of the Fates but they're called "norns" and there are many of them. At one point, Odin in disguise calls himself "Bolverker" which means "worker of terrible things" and I'm so using that in one of my books. NO ONE STEAL IT! I also love that some of the gods own epic cats.
Content Cautions: This is mythology so there is a lot of graphic violence and weird sexual acts depicted because myths are violent and weird and Gaiman did an accurate rewrite. At the beginning of the book, a giant is slaughtered and his body parts are used to make the world. Graphic murder occurs but is not described in great detail like slicing throats with scythes, dropping rocks on heads, and draining someone dry of their blood to then make into ale. A character has his lips sewn shut. A wolf rips a buy apart then someone uses the boy's entrails to tie up the wolf. Thor's rams can be slaughtered then eaten over and over again which is creative but weird lol.
Several characters have sex outside of marriage. Loki gets pregnant when he transforms into a female horse and gives birth to a baby horse. It's not shown and it's not gone into detail but it is there. XD He also has kids who are monsters including a little girl who has a half-rotten body. At one point a male character ties a rope around his genitals and then to a goat for laughs.
A** was used once and at one point a gross fart is mentioned.
What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:
1.) Rewriting Mythology - This was just amazing. It was such a great way to discover about Norse mythology and I wish more authors would do this with other mythologies even if it's like a compilation of them. It's so cool!
How this can be applied to writing: Somone please do this and get published.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed this book. My only qualm is it's a little graphic (though it's accurate) and sometimes the omniscient voice takes you out of the story, but overall I loved it!
About the Author: Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere (1995), Stardust (1999), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American Gods (2001), Anansi Boys (2005), and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett, 1990), as well as the short story collections Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).
His first collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, was nominated for the UK's MacMillan Silver Pen Awards as the best short story collection of the year. Most recently, Gaiman was both a contributor to and co-editor with Al Sarrantonio of Stories (2010), and his own story in the volume, The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains, has been nominated for a number of awards.
American Gods has been released in an expanded tenth anniversary edition, and there is an HBO series in the works.