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Norse Mythology Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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The Amazon Book Review
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An Amazon Best Book of February 2017: Neil Gaiman putting his own fingerprints on the Norse myths? Cue the hyperventilation of delighted readers. That reaction is genuinely earned in this tight retelling, as Gaiman darts between a Tolkienesque tone in the epic origin stories and his own bright wit in the tales centering on the adventures of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Those new to Norse mythology might be astonished by how bizarre some details are. (For example, the ship made of the fingernails and toenails of the dead might make you wonder how much the Vikings genuinely enjoying sailing.) The doomsday of Ragnarok will cause a jolt of disquiet among those who are used to Hollywood endings, and Thor himself will be a surprise for those who are familiar with Hollywood Thor—but those surprises are often where the fun lies. Fans more well-versed in Norse myths should still appreciate the humor and spark that Gaiman infuses into the stories he has selected to retell, adding to the existing rich literature. Many who read Norse Mythology will make this volume their joyful leaping-off point into a strange and mesmerizing world of gods, giants, undead goats, betrayals, a slanderous squirrel, elves, dwarves, and Valkyries. And don't forget that ship made of the finger- and toenails of the dead. —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
“Taking a few modern liberties with the stories, Gaiman’s Norse Mythology delights in the gods’ petty machinations as much as their heroics. In these accessible, retold tales, fantasy is odd, and real, and dire.”
- Ethan Gilsdorf, The Boston Globe
“No contemporary fiction writer gets more of his power from the mythological tradition than Neil Gaiman. . . . As always, Gaiman’s a charming raconteur . . . [and he] recognizes a ripping yarn when he sees one.”
- Douglas Wolk, Los Angeles Times
“A gripping, suspenseful and quite wonderful reworking of these famous tales. Once you fall into the rhythm of its glinting prose, you will happily read on and on, in thrall to Gaiman’s skillful storytelling.”
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Weaving together ancient Norse mythology with 21st-century sensibility, Gaiman's storytelling once again recreates an entire genre for the modern reader.”
“In reinterpreting the tales so faithfully and with such abundant joy, Gaiman assumes the role of fireside bard, inviting us to sit close on a chilly winter’s night and chuckle and wonder along with him.”
- James Lovegrove, Financial Times
“Gaiman’s masterful storytelling transcends our most vivid dreams, exploring ancient territory from a fantastically fresh perspective. . . . [and inviting us] to listen to stories in the same way we would as children: engrossed and enraptured by the magic of myth. . . . [Norse Mythology] will breathe new life into these old gods, reminding us of the power that great storytelling still holds over us all.”
- Dani Hedlund, F(r)iction
“Mr. Gaiman milks [the Norse gods’ hijinks] for all their humor and incongruity, very much in the spirit of the originals. . . . [He] has produced . . . a clear, continuous narrative, with big scenes the same as they always were but with emotional pointers added.”
- Tom Shippey, The Wall Street Journal
“Remarkable. . . . Gaiman has provided an enchanting contemporary interpretation of the Viking ethos.”
- Lisa L. Hannett, The Atlantic
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Coming into the book, I only knew the basics of Norse Mythology so I was excited to learn more about it. It is clear Gaiman has a great interest in the subject and he put a lot of care into it. These are stories that have been told over and over again and this is another retelling to pass through the countless generations these stories have survived.
He retells the stories as chronologically as you can, and keeps the story flowing as it jumps around each chapter telling a new story and each story just as interesting as the last. The stories he chose were all fascinating, there wasn't a single one that was boring.
If you want to find out more about Norse Mythology this is definitely a fantastic read and a good place to start.
These stories capture the riddle of our species. That riddle is completely entangled in our ability to engage in reflective thought and self reference and when coupled with our ability to share our most convoluted thought patterns with each other what emerges is our sense of self and species.
They also capture our evolutionary baggage that we constantly struggle to understand and overcome as our civilization evolves.
I was disappointed that this wasn't a retelling of the myths with a master writer's creative flare in novel form. It belongs on the shelf that fits other myth retellings. This is a good rendition and it is a quick and pleasant read. It reads easy enough to be used as a bed time story book.
I loved it and would recommend it but it isn't exactly ground breaking. It isn't even a new and improved version. It is exactly what it says it is: Norse Mythology as interpreted and retold by Neil. I am proud to add it to my collection of Norse and Anglo-saxon books.