What better way to come back to book reviewing than with a revamp by Neil Gaiman? I have to be honest and tell you right now: I adore him. He is my writer goals. His style is unique and frank and has a hint of humor even its darkness. He is a master of what I think of as literary fantasy. He elevates the fantasy genre, and that’s what makes him great.
Here’s part of the blurb from Goodreads:
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
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.
I have to admit all that I knew about Norse mythology came from Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, which I highly recommend. Actually, I would say you should start with Norse Mythology, then read it, as it goes in a little deeper.
My first impression of Norse Mythology was “Yasss, a new Neil Gaiman book!!” But after I had calmed down enough to open it, I was a bit underwhelmed. Not to say it wasn’t excellent, because it was. But because I felt like there could be more. After reading Riordan’s books, I know there is more lore out there, and I would have liked to have seen it utilized by Gaiman.
He made the gods very believable, fallible, and essentially human. But if you know anything of Norse lore, you’ve heard of Ragnorak, and know they like humans, eventually have to die. I think that that sense of mortality did come through in his writing style. Odin was a bad ass, truly. And another God I would like to have read more of. But he did make mistakes, as you will see if you read the book. The main focus was Thor and Loki.
Thor was asks my husband would say, a “dude-man-bro.” He was that one likable frat boy, that’s a bit dumb, but you can’t help but like him a bit even if he disrupts your class with his nonsense. And Loki was pretty much his opposite. You wanted to like him, and likely would admire his smarts, but he’s such a jerk. The rest of the cast are similarly written, with that breath of relatability that Gaiman seems to give all his characters.
Overall, though it is traditionally broken down into stories/subject, there is still the feel of a novel. You follow the story, mainly composed of the brothers, but other components and charactees that are important to Ragnorak. Everything ties up in this philosophical bow. Leaving you wondering whether the old gods are gone, or if they were there to begin with.
Overall, it was a great read, and I would consider it a light read. But it’s a good jumping off point for Norse mythology newbies of all ages.