Norse Mythology – Book Review

Norse

I am not familiar with Norse mythology at all. Anything I do know is from the Marvel movie Thor I saw several years ago.

“Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman is a collection of stories that tells the history of how the Norse gods (Thor, Odin, Loki, Freyja) came to be and how they handled all kinds of situations in their realm. I found the stories in this book to be so much fun to read. Most were outright funny and they all gave a lot of insight into the cultures of these Northern lands – that culture involving mostly feasting, keenness, and seeing who could take the most amount of pain without grimacing.

Like all mythology, some natural wonders like the tides and earthquakes were explained away by something the gods did or did not do.

As a Christian, it was a little odd at how limited the gods were. For example, their immortality is sustained by another goddess whose apples they needed to eat to stay young. They can be tricked. They can lose limbs or even die and stay dead. Their power is also limited and they can be imprisoned or chained. They can be maimed and hurt. They tire, they can get drunk or overindulge. All these things were new to me and I found the stories quiet entertaining – funny even.

Thor was hilarious and his masculine predictability I found to be endearing. Loki was more cunning than evil, although, towards the end he did get a little nasty. The giants were funny and brutish. Odin, I found to not be that impressive. The goddesses mentioned were all beautiful.

The ending surprised me and brought about sadness. I felt bad that for the Norse, after Valhalla there is a sense of hopelessness. For such a cheery crowd, the end for the gods is grim.

The book does contain some love scenes but they are not graphic. Unless you find a sentence like “and they made love again” graphic. There is some crude humor. There is some gore and of course fighting and killing. There is lots of drunkenness.

Overall, I found the book enjoyable and witty.

I recommend this book to those who like mythology, fables, adventures, or fairy tales. I also recommend this book for anyone looking for a fun and easy read. The names can get a little daunting though. This book would also be a good book to read out loud, but maybe to an older audience. I would let my high schooler read this book, but no younger.

 

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