When I initially heard that Neil Gaiman was putting out a book composed of stories taken from Norse mythology, I considered not reading it. I thought, why bother with it if the stories weren’t his, but just his retelling of the myths? But I’ve never regretted reading anything by Gaiman, whether it’s a novel (graphic or otherwise), poem, short story, or children’s picture book, so I gave it a try. And I’m glad I did.
The book is not long, containing 15 stories, most featuring Odin, Thor, and Loki. It begins with a story about the beginning of the world and ends with its destruction. In between are the myths Gaiman probably selected because of their importance within the mythology. He wanted to write a book Norse scholars could appreciate as well as those completely new to the characters and the mythology. This isn’t another American Gods, where Gaiman took another ancient mythology and used it to form a modern-day novel. If you’re hoping for that, you may be disappointed. With Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays as true to the stories as he felt he possibly could, and simply lends them his own voice.
The stories are all entertaining and oftentimes funny. We learn how Odin, the high one, sacrificed his eye for knowledge, how Thor, the not-so-bright god, acquired his hammer, and how Loki, the shape shifter and trickster, was either assisting the gods or causing them headaches.
Gaiman does a wonderful job presenting these stories. He tells each one at a moderately fast pace and tells them in such a way that quickly hooks you and makes you want to continue reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆