Gaiman Brings the Gods to Life

Neil Gaiman is an author you either love or hate. For me, he is both at the same time. While I didn’t make it through The Graveyard, I blazed through his book Norse Mythology. Yes, I’ve always loved the Norse gods.  Tales of Frey, Balder, Freya, Thor, Odin, Tyre and others were some of my earliest heroes – even before I learned that they were my heritage. (My mother is full-blooded Norwegian and my father is German – the lands where these tales were originally spun.)

In Gaiman’s telling (I listened to the audiobook) of these legendary stories he adds drama, flair, passion and humor. He tackles everything from the beginning of it all to the most little-known stories of the struggles, triumphs, cunning, bravery, and trickery that was rampant among the gods, demigods, giants, dwarves and humans.

This book has it all. Great tales of the building of Asgard’s Wall. Thor battling the Midgard serpent. Loki’s spawn, the giant wolf Fenrir. The loss of Tyre’s hand. The role Balder played in the final battle of the gods known as Ragnarök.

Yes, Loki is at the heart of most of the mischief but Gaiman makes a strong case for his importance in the timeline, history and outcomes visited upon the players. Try as I might, I still can’t stand him. While I prefer my gods to be more aligned with the good, even heroes like Thor were not without their major flaws.

If all you know of Norse mythology is the Thor movies by Marvel, then get ready for a whole new world (and maybe even prepare yourself to understand Thor: Ragnarok a bit more when it comes out.) I expect it won’t follow the myths very closely however.

If you love Norse mythology, you will love this book. If you love Neil Gaiman, you will love this book. If you love a good telling, you will love this book. If none of these appeal to you – you must be dead.

by Chris Doelle