Review Blog

Feb 03 2020

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781526619211.
This collection of Norse Myths translated and adapted from original texts by Neil Gaiman examines some of what has become the source material for countless books, films and TV series. A mythology is clearly articulated with an introduction to the gods and their worlds before launching into stories of powerful players, strong women, great trials of strength, betrayal and brutal retribution. Stories of gods who shape men's lives; fickle, vain and unpredictable beings who fight giants and sea monsters using magic and cunning in stories which have been told and retold for centuries. We learn that Odin is prepared to sacrifice a great deal in his quest for wisdom and that he transformed himself several times to steal the Mead of Poets. Great storytellers are said to have tasted "Odin's gift" and the bad ones the wet fart he let out as he escaped. In Freya's Unusual Wedding Thrym, lord of the ogres has stolen the hammer of the gods, Mjollinir wanting to marry the beautiful Freya as ransom. Mighty Thor is persuaded to disguises himself as the bride to steal his beloved hammer back. Always in the background is the devious Loki, never far away when things go awry.
This is storytelling at its best, clear, accessible, funny and engaging. It is a surprise when we read a text so rhythmic and immediate that it cries out to be read aloud. In this era of high definition video and amazing special effects we sometimes miss the power of the spoken word to waken our own imagination and activate memories that go back to the scary fairy tales we heard as children. This is just scary enough to be loved by all.
Themes; Myths, fantasy, magic.
Sue Speck

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