Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Unlike the myths of Greece, I don’t know much about the gods of the vikings. What I do know I mainly got from Marvel’s Thor comics. In his introduction to this book, Neil Gaiman explains that these served as his own introduction too.

Gaiman would go on to delve deeper into the mythology and in this book he tells some of the tales of Asgard and its residents. A couple of the myths were vaguely familiar to me, while others are completely new to me.

What they all share is that they are retold here with plenty of wit, with Gaiman capturing the characters brilliantly and adding humour to proceedings. It’s this that makes the legends come alive, Gaiman’s knack for making the gods flawed and believable. There’s the heroic, if dim and rather arrogant, Thor and Loki, a sly trickster who is often very pleased with himself.

Like many myths there are stories that explain natural phenomena as well as some which just recount the misadventures of the Asgardians. The stories are short but reveal a whole world of gods and monsters, a landscape dominated by giants and magic. They’re magnificently entertaining and you can see their influence on writings which would follow (hello, Tolkien).

Gaiman is a writer I’ve long admired and here his skills breathe fresh life into old, half forgotten tales. I’d love to see him tackle more myths and recommend this as an introduction to the gods of the vikings.

Verdict: A witty and charming read, Gaiman’s clever writing makes the legends fresh and fun. A gem of a book. 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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