Audible version, narrated by Neil Gaiman.
Those of you who have been following my blog/reviews will know that I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman, and also having a love of mythology this was a no-brainer. Additionally, any fans of Gaiman will know that he’s drawn a lot of inspiration from mythology in his past works, so this kind of seems like a natural progression.
I will admit that I don’t remember much from Norse mythology in school, though I do remember playing Hel in a performance of Baldur’s Death in class four (and being terrified because I also had to play the harp by myself in front of hundreds of students). So this was a nice refresher. If you already know all the myths and stories this may not be for you, as although it’s entertaining it doesn’t bring much in the way of new insights or deep delving discoveries to the myths.
I love Gaiman’s storytelling though, and he builds this up nicely starting with the creation of the world, retelling some of the more important myths like Thor’s hammer being stolen and the death of Baldur, and ends with Ragnarok. Even though it’s well built and nicely balanced I do find it on the short side and I wish there was more. But on the other hand it fits together very well as is. There’s a reason each myth in particular is chosen for this collection.
He tells the stories and does the voices in a way that makes the gods, giants and other creatures come to life. I laughed at their wit and stupidity (Loki and Thor, respectively) and was saddened at their deaths. It helps that I now also envision Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth when I hear Loki and Thor speaking (well, for me that’s a plus, as a bit of a Marvel movie fan), and Gaiman does also mention how the Marvel comics were his first introduction to Norse mythology. Though of course the stories are changed quite a bit in the Marvel universe, so this book was also a helpful in setting the record straight regarding the original myths. And it’s interesting also to be reminded of how these myths still pervade our culture today – maybe particularly in Scandinavia, and particularly in naming of places, products and people.
It’s entertaining, and well told and it’s a very quick read/listen, so for a quick introduction to Norse mythology and some great storytelling I would recommend picking this up.