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Norse Mythology
Cover of Norse Mythology
Norse Mythology
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Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

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.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor's hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman's deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

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.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor's hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman's deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

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About the Author-
  • Neil Gaiman is the author of the New York Times best-selling A View from the Cheap Seats, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Neverwhere, and the Sandman series of graphic novels, among other works. His fiction has received Newbery, Carnegie, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner Awards. His novel American Gods will be a TV series airing in 2017. Originally from England, he lives in the United States, where he is a professor at Bard College.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 12, 2016
    Having already appropriated Odin and Loki for his novel American Gods, Gaiman turns his restless imagination to a retelling of Norse folklore (a youthful interest of his). He begins by introducing us to the three main mythological figures: Odin, the highest and oldest of the gods; his son, Thor, who makes up in brawn what he lacks in brains; and Loki, offspring of giants and a wily trickster. In a series of stories, we learn how Thor acquired his famous hammer, Mjollnir, how Odin tricked a giant into building a wall around Asgard, the home of the gods, how Loki helped Thor retrieve his hammer from the ogre that had stolen it, and how a visit to the land of the giants resulted in the humbling of Thor and Loki. In most of the stories, a consistent dynamic rules as one god tries to get something over on another god, but novelist that he is, Gaiman also provides a dramatic continuity to these stories that takes us from the birth of the gods to their blood-soaked twilight. Employing dialogue that is anachronistically current in nature, Gaiman has great fun in bringing these gods down to a human level. Like John Gardner in Grendel, a classic retelling of Beowulf, and Philip Pullman in his rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen stories, Gaiman takes a well-worn subject and makes it his own.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 24, 2017
    Gaiman is a talented storyteller, as both writer and a narrator. In his latest audiobook, he turns both talents to an imaginative retelling of old Norse folklore. The figures in these myths are well-known to most people: Odin, the highest and oldest of the gods; his son Thor the Thunderer; and Loki, his conniving and treacherous blood brother. They, along with the other gods who inhabit Asgard, live in a universe of giants, elves, dwarves, and men. Gaiman chronicles the history of these gods and their varied adventures from the beginning of their creation to their ending at the final battle of Ragnarok, and on to their eventual renewal. Gaiman’s affection for these myths is evident throughout the audiobook. His gods bellow and rage and whine and battle and plot, but his reading is never over the top. His mellow British-accented voice keeps the pace consistent, hits all the right dramatic notes, and brings new life, for a new generation to discover, to these ancient stories. A Norton hardcover.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2016
    Fire and ice to begin, fire and ice to end. And it's not going to end well, friends: first come the giants, then the all-ravening wolf, and then....The ancient Norse had a cheerless view of the world: the gods are jealous, the elements fierce, the enemies--trolls and giants among them--many, and if you're lucky you'll be killed in battle and gathered up to Valhalla, "and there you will drink and fight and feast and battle, with Odin as your leader." So writes Gaiman (The View from the Cheap Seats, 2016, etc.), famed for his intelligent fantasy novels but long under the spell of that great body of myth. As an English schoolboy, he reveled in Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen, a somewhat stodgy but valuable collection (as he notes, as a creature of his time, he was introduced to the Norse by way of the Mighty Thor comic books); now, as an adult, he gets to retell the tales, drawing from Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, sagas in verse, and other sources. As he notes, rightly, that body of work is incomplete and perhaps corrupted by later Christian intrusions, so that it has to be viewed with some degree of suspicion; by the same token, he writes, so many of the goddesses in particular have been "lost, or buried, or forgotten," overshadowed by the better-known likes of Thor, Odin, and Loki and all their busy kinfolk. Gaiman writes assuredly and evocatively and with a precise eye for the atmospheric detail: "Niflheim was colder than cold, and the murky mist that cloaked everything hung heavily," he intones, catching the ancient alliteration. There's plenty of mayhem and gore, and once the gods have had their fun, everything comes "crashing down and crumbling into ash and devastation." But before that happens and Ragnarok descends, we have this lively book to cheer us along. Superb. Just the thing for the literate fantasy lover and the student of comparative religion and mythology alike.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2016
    Fantasy phenomenon Gaiman, who draws on the tales of the North Germanic people in his work, now combines them into a single novelistic arc. See also Carolyne Larrington's heavily illustrated The Norse Myths: A Guide to Viking and Scandinavian Gods and Heroes (Thames & Hudson. 208p. ISBN 9780500251966. $24.95), also in February.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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