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Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs Paperback – October 17, 2002
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"This book has a very good and thorough dictionary of names.... Its essays on time in Norse mythology and its summary of the historical background are extremely helpful and enlightening."--Nicholas D. Humez, Montclair State University
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Top Customer Reviews
Lindow's coverage, which is well-described in the subtitle, is not as complete in some areas. He does not try to match Simek on, say, Roman-era inscriptions, or Orchard on individual Icelandic sagas. In what he does cover, he is generally more comprehensive, and sometimes, I think, clearer (as on, say, the limited evidence for Norse religious practices). Lindow's discussions of methodologies and theories are informative, useful, and at times even entertaining. On this basis, it might well be a better book than the other two for beginners, although it should appeal to a more advanced readership as well. There is, of course, a trade-off, and some will prefer Orchard's more extensive coverage. (Where beginners in Norse mythology are concerned, Simek might be left to those approaching from a fairly advanced linguistic-oriented background, anyway.)
The black and white illustrations are well-chosen, and most of them are clearly reproduced. Bibliographic notes to the articles are supplemented by a section of bibliographic essays (including Internet resources). Again, he provides less raw information than Simek and Orchard, but his presentation is better, and, once again, probably much more useful to a novice.Read more ›
I own three of these dictionary-style books on Norse mythology, probably THE three such books: Lindow (this book), Rudolf Simek's "Dictionary of Northern Mythology" and Andy Orchard's "Dictionary of Norse Myth & Legend" (or whatever the current publisher's calling it these days).
Of the three, Lindow is by far the most accessible and user-friendly to the layperson. There's a wealth of information here, and it's written and presented very well and with a healthy amount of humor (one doesn't often see the poem "Thrymskvida" described as featuring "Thor in drag").
That said, it's also true that this book doesn't contain the hoard of detailed, otherwise obscure information that Simek and Orchard have to offer. On more than one occasion I went to look up something in Lindow and was surprised that it wasn't there. For example, I find it odd that there's an entry for Ratatosk (a squirrel that inhabits the world tree Yggdrasil, a relatively minor character), but not one for, say, Svartalfaheim (in some accounts, one of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, realm of the "black elfs", or dwarfs).
The bottom line is, if you have a casual interest in Norse mythology and want a well-written, simple reference, then Lindow's your man. If you want practically everything there is to know about Norse mythology that's available in English, well, Simek or Orchard are probably your best bet.
But even if you're going whole hog and decide to get Simek or Orchard, get Lindow too, if for no other reason than that he's an absolute blast to read.
The writer is well-versed in the subject, and his comments are interesting and reliable, but somehow the pleasure of narrative in the mythical stories is lost. One example is the entry on "Berserks: Furious warriors, in mythology associatd with Odin." The author quotes one line about them from the old stories, then dismisses them: "Other than this passage, berserks seem to have belonged more to the world of men than of gods, which agrees with the project of euhemerism Snorri had adopted with 'Ynglinga saga'...the connection between wolf-skins and berserks supports one of the suggested etymologies for medieval Icelandic "berserkr, namely, 'bear-shirt'..."
As you can see, the vocabulary of the book is aimed at scholars. The book seems to be a conversation about Scandinavian myths for scholars, clarifying the sources of the myths.
The author dismisses my favorite book on Scandinavian myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, "The Norse Myths," as "not recommended." However, Crossley-Holland's book is just the sort of work to engage the interest of the general reader in the subject--which this book, unfortunately, doesn't.
Still, the book is well-written and interesting as an additional source on the Scandinavian myths. The book's dryness is alleviated by good photo illustrations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great guide enjoy reading about different gods that i like and i am glad it is so organized and alphabetical so i dont have to go searching for stories and facts about the ones i... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hank Charleston
A good descriptive history and well-written telling of the topic. Scholary, for a change.Published 4 months ago by Harold O.
You can't tell the players without a scorecard! Fun reading if this is the kind of information you need. Read morePublished 8 months ago by George Cleveland
My go-to book when any questions come up involving norse mythology. I love just flipping through the pages as well. Very helpful and a great reference book!Published 10 months ago by Sophie
Great book, kind of hard to follow for me at times. I'm not very scholarly but aside from that I am enjoying learning about the ancient norse world through this book.Published 14 months ago by josh