Review – Norse Mythology

Posted April 1, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanNorse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

Great excitement always sweeps the book community when a Gaiman book is due out, and this was no exception. I was less interested, as I prefer rewrites and reinterpretations — like Gaiman’s American Gods — of mythology I know well rather than simple retellings in modern language, which is what this seemed to be. That’s more or less true: the stories stick very close to the Eddas, and are entirely familiar to me. The fun part is really Gaiman’s own touches; his sense of humour, and his fine sense of timing. “Shut up, Thor,” is a refrain that becomes surprisingly comical in one or two of the stories, for example.

It’s not, however, a groundbreaking reinterpretation. It’s just like sitting with Gaiman and being told the stories, more or less true to their sources, with a sense of humour that sometimes illuminates their inconsistencies and the things which startle or amuse a modern audience. It’s not a bad book, by any means, but as I expected it’s not the kind of retelling I really enjoy. For something more complex which really uses the Norse mythology and creates a new story, American Gods is a great choice — it’s not that Gaiman doesn’t handle the material well.

I am glad I’ve got a physical copy, though; it’s a gorgeous looking book, both with and without the dust cover. I don’t think it’s going to fit on my shelf next to my other Gaiman books, but that’s beside the point. It’s pretty.

In any case, my rating isn’t a criticism as such — I read this because it’s Gaiman and my (former, I guess) field and it was bound to be amusing, and it was, but no more than that for me.

Rating: 3/5

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4 responses to “Review – Norse Mythology

  1. Kathleen McCarthy

    Speaking of Gaiman and Norse mythology, he has a book called Odd and the Frost Giants that reinterprets it a lot like American Gods. Odd and the Frost Giants is more aimed at kids, but it’s still a very good book.

  2. I do have an interest in lots of different mythology including Norse-I have a few sitting on my shelf waiting for me to find time to look at them. I’m not a fan of the author though.

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