I’d been wanting to pick this book up since I’d seen it for the first time in Waterstones. I have been a Gaiman fan for a long time and, co-incidently, I happened to be teaching about the Norse Gods in my class’ Viking topic at the time. Seemed like a match made in heaven! However, I’m not a big hardback book fan. They are too heavy and stiff and so very expensive. My friend came to the rescue, however, when she finally brought me round to the idea of finally signing up to Audible. I love a good audiobook – and when it’s narrated by the author themselves, how can you really resist? So my first Audible credit was spent on Norse Mythology. I’m so glad that it was!
Spoiler Free Review
Title: Norse Mythology
Authors: Neil Gaiman
Published: W W Norton & Company, 2017
(from GR) In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
I must admit, I’ve not always been the biggest history fan. I definitely did not have enough of my own knowledge before I went into teaching the Viking topic, so I had to do my own. I tell you something – reading books makes history fun! Gaiman did a great job of bringing the historical aspects of Viking Gods to the forefront, whilst adding a lovely dollop of their personality that we know and love from those Marvel movies. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read!
As Gaiman acknowledges at the beginning of this book, this novel could have been written by almost everyone. These are not stories created by Gaiman himself, rather stories crafted from the things we already know about norse mythology, and given the Gaiman treatment. You couldn’t really pick a better author to do this – his style of prose suited these types of stories so well. Adding in the fact that through the audiobook, Gaiman tells the story himself, it was truly great reading experience.
The stories tell the lives and trials of many Norse Gods – those we know well, like Odin, Thor and Loki and also those that are not always told. I particularly enjoyed stories where the lives of the female Gods were explored more, and this was a place where Gaiman could flesh out his characters in his own way, because the knowledge of the female Gods is generally slight.
They are told simply, without much flourish – which I’d say is an artistic choice. It made it seem like these stories were being told, word of mouth, as they would have been in Viking times. It was made more authentic by doing this, and the use of the audiobook played aside this nicely. Each chapter held an exciting adventure, in glorious and gory detail, which added to the authentic feel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this read. Although we cannot truly take this as fact – this particular book is a work of fiction after all – it held true to many historical facts and those stories handed down from generation to generation. Gaiman has managed to add his unusual, fantastical touch to these stories and in my reading experience, using the audiobook, managed to tell these stories in a really exciting way.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
A great way to venture into this type of history. Not a full 5 stars because there were some parts of the stories that felt quite slow, but overall a really good read. I’m so glad I finally caved and got Audible, and also that I picked up this book!
Have you read any other stories based on mythology? This novel has made me interested in other types of mythology, and I can’t wait to dive in. Happy reading, all!