For those of you that know me, or maybe have only looked in a time or two on Twitter? You will more than likely know that Mr. Gaiman is a personal hero of mine. I have enjoyed his stories and books immensely, having been turned onto him with the first book of his that I found 'American Gods'. I then went on to devour as much of his writings as I possibly could. So it should come to no surprise that I went out and purchased his newest book 'Norse Mythology' and decided to review it here.
As an aside there is a bit of humor, well at least to me, in the review of the book. I had complained/whined on Twitter that I had 9368 books or so on my shelves here at home and that was stopping me from going out and purchasing any new books. I had mentioned in that post that it was even stopping me from purchasing this book, 'Norse Mythology' and in the Twitter post I included a shameless attempt at getting noticed by Mr. Gaiman by directly linking him to it. I was much surprised and delighted that he did indeed post back and with two little words, I did as I was told. Oh, in case you were curious what those words were? They were "buuyyyy ittttttt" or something close enough, meaning there might have been more 'i's and less 't's but you get the point. I mean when a hero suggests strongly that you do something you would have to be something of an idiot not to do that thing, so I did.
OK, that all being said, the book review. Yes Spoiler Alert, I'm going to mention things in the book. Go Figure!
First and foremost I liked and I can even say I enjoyed the way the book was set up. There was an overview of the Gods; Odin, Thor, Loki, etc. What I would call the major players and for me there weren't any surprises which I can say I liked. Odin had one eye, Thor had his hammer, Loki was mischievous and on the wrong side of everyone but himself..
I had not heard the Norse Creation story before and I rather enjoyed it. I'm not going to go into it but it makes as much sense to me as pretty much any other creation story that I have read. I am not saying I believe it anymore than I believe any of the others. I mean that it was an interesting story.
I had not heard the story about "Mimir;s Head and Odin's Eye" before and I admit it was again an enjoyable, a delight to read. The pacing was good and artful. It is a little bit difficult to not say things throughout that don't include the simple words "I enjoyed it" Because, candidly I did.
The majority of the stories are two or three pages in length so that makes it a perfect read before bed, well at least for me. Enough to whet the appetite but long enough that you feel that you got a good stories worth before turning off the light to fall asleep.
I was amused? I suppose that is the word, of how many of the stories that I had probably heard in the same way that Mr. Gaiman had heard them, via the comic books. I remember as a kid reading the Thor comics, and how cool it was that Thor and a normal guy more or less inhabited the same body. It made it simple to want to be a guy who had Thor living inside of him too. When Dungeons and Dragons came out in the late 70's, yes shush, I am that old, one of the first things I turned too was the 'Deities and Demigods' book to see if the Norse gods were in there, and they were. This teenager was not disappointed.
I had read a very similar story line in L Sprague de Camp's 'The Incomplete Enchanter' which was made up of three books, the one on Norse Mythology was 'The Roaring Trumpet' where Harold Shea, the main character in the book, went with Thor and company and competed in the games that Thor did in Mr. Gaiman's retelling in 'Thor's Journey to the Land of the Giants.' Do not get me wrong, they are NOT the same story but they draw on the same themes. It is more that Mr. Gaiman told the tale and then Mr. de Camp used that tale to write his fantasy story. I hope I explained that correctly.
I had not heard the full story of Ragnarok. I mean I did know that it was the end of the world. I knew that the gods lost, but that they fight anyway. Odin goes after the Wolf, Thor after the Midgard Serpent, Loki switches sides and fights for the bad guys etc. If you haven't read it I am not going to spoil it for you. The world dies and the world is reborn and there is even a chess set included. How can you go wrong with a chess set? In my opinion, you can't.
So, I like it, I liked it a lot, and it is going to be one of those books that I will read more than a few times, especially in Winter to remind myself that when it is cold outside, the snow is blowing around that I should probably take a peek outside and see if I see a Frost Giant outside and if I do? Hope that Thor is around with his hammer.
Thank you Mr. Gaiman for this book and for the 'suggestion' that I should pick it up no matter how many other books I have on my shelves.