My Rating: 4/5
I have always been fascinated by myths and legends. Whether it was the Ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddesses or Celtic folklore, there is just something so brilliant about reading and exploring these fantasy stories.
I have read the Poetic Edda, so I had an awareness of the stories already, but Norse Mythology was a fantastic read. If you know little to nothing of these myths, this book is a fantastic place to begin.
Accessible Writing Style
The only other book written by Neil Gaiman that I have read is American Gods. In my review of that book I talk about how easy the writing style makes it to read.
Learning Norse mythology from scratch by beginning with the Prose Edda or Poetic Edda can put some people off. This book, however picks some of the most important, relevant and entertains takes from those older texts and makes them accessible to a wide audience.
Whether it is Loki tying his testicles which are then yanked by an animal to make someone laugh, or Thor dressing as a bride to recover his hammer from a thief, the stories are brought to life and often very funny.
Rather than reading like a dry encyclopaedia, Norse Mythology is written as a collection of fantastic story stories. Neil Gaiman really brings the characters and tales to life.
Yes, the overall stories are the same as those from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, but they are rewritten almost to be quirky fantasy short stories. Adding dialogue, travelogue and extra scenes enhances the characterisation of the gods, goddesses and other beings and creatures.
Although from older texts it is clear that Thor is a little… slow, Neil Gaiman’s depiction of the god of thunder through dialogue makes that aspect of this character funnier. It also adds a little nuance as Thor also has other aspect to his personality that are essential to understanding him.
Overall, I would certainly recommend Norse Mythology to anyone with an interest in these deities and accompanying stories. Additionally, if you like fantasy in general this is a fantastic read, as well as a quick and easy one too.