Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 485
Norse Mythology is a 2017 book written by English author Neil Gaiman. It is a collection of several myths and legends from Norse mythology, and it depicts the author’s own accounts of stories about Norse gods and goddesses, dwarfs, elves and giants. It is considered to be a retelling of...
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Norse Mythology is a 2017 book written by English author Neil Gaiman. It is a collection of several myths and legends from Norse mythology, and it depicts the author’s own accounts of stories about Norse gods and goddesses, dwarfs, elves and giants. It is considered to be a retelling of the Poetic Edda or the Elder Edda (a collection of Old Norse folk tales and poems), and it received a lot of positive reviews, mainly because of its captivating, genuine, and imaginative storytelling. The stories, although they are short, have been described as very entertaining and informative.
The book opens with explanations of the creation of Valhalla, Asgard, and the nine realms. It tells the stories of Odin, the wise and all-mighty All-father and the god of wisdom, war, death and divination, who sees and knows everything; his son, Thor, the powerful god of thunder (who isn’t the brightest among the Norse gods) and his prized possession, Mjölnir; and Loki, the god of mischief, who is an intelligent, manipulative trickster and prankster. Although Loki isn’t exclusively good by nature, he usually helps Thor and his friends in a lot of adventures. It is mentioned that Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir) has a short handle as a result of one of Loki’s pranks. In fact, many readers have commented that Loki is actually a literary portrait of Gaiman himself, because, much like the author, Loki is a witty and masterful storyteller.
Naturally, the book ends with the arrival of Ragnarök—the Norse equivalent of the apocalypse, when, instead of the world ending total destruction, everything just starts over. All of the gods and goddesses fight in one grand, final battle, and many of them die. Their legacy, however, will live on through their sons and daughters. Thus, the universe will start anew.
Aside from being a fast-paced adventure, Norse Mythology is packed with action and comedy as well. It shows a very interesting side of all the gods and goddesses, portraying them as very bold, daring, passionate, quick-witted, stubborn, and sometimes even violent beings. Because of this, we realize that even though they are very powerful, supernatural entities, they also have a tendency to act very human, showing their emotions and their complicated personalities without shame or fear of the consequences of such behavior.
It is noteworthy to mention that Norse mythology bears a lot of similarities to other mythologies as well, such as Greek and Roman mythologies and even the Bible. For instance, Odin and Thor (because of the latter's power to control lighting) are the Norse equivalents of Zeus in Greek mythology and Jupiter in Roman mythology. Another example would be the creation of the nine realms, which begins with a flood that destroys all life, similar to biblical Great Flood. This suggests that all of the world mythologies and theologies follow and share similar patterns, themes, and characters.