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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 399

The characters in Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman are the Germanic gods and goddesses that form the basis of Norse mythology as set down in Iceland's Poetic and Prose Edda. Gaiman believes Norse mythology derives from Germanic tribal religion.

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There are two main groups of gods and goddesses: the Aesir and the Vanir. They may represent the religious traditions of two different tribes, according to Gaiman. The Aesir and the Vanir are rival families of divinities.

Ask and Embla are the Adam and Eve of Norse mythology. Odin and his brothers (Vili and Ve) are the first Aesir gods and create Ask and Embla from trees.

Bestia is Odin’s mother and the wife of Bor. Buri emerges from a salt rock licked by Audhumbla. As the father of Bor and grandfather of Odin, Vili, and Ve, Buri is the progenitor of the Aesir gods.

Hugin and Munin are the two raven spies of Odin that fly all over the world and return to inform the god. Sleipnir is Odin’s eight-legged horse.

Fenrir is a giant wolf begat of Loki that will remain bound until Ragnarok. Loki is a trickster god. Thor is the thunder-god. He wields a hammer that returns like a boomerang and rides a chariot pulled by rams.

Audhumbla is an icy cow created along with the Jotun Ymir when the hot blast of Muspelheim (the South) met the ice of Niflheim (the North). Ymir is the first giant and ancestor of the giant race. He was nursed from the milk of Audhumbla. Begelmir and his wife are also giants. He survives a massacre of the giants and is an ancestor to the future giant race.

Freyr is the son of Njordr and the brother of Freyja. He is the Vanir god of weather, sun, rain, crops, and fertility. His sister Freyja is the goddess of fertility and love. Njordr is a Vanir god of the wind and oceans. He is the father of Freyr and Freyja.

Gylfi is the earliest Scandinavian king. He speaks with the Aesir about the afterlife.

Heidrun is a goat that lives in Valhalla eating leaves and producing mead. Jormungandr is the giant serpent that lives in the water surrounding Midgard or Middle Earth. Saehriminir is an immortal boar that regenerates after being consumed so there is always food in Valhalla.

Valkyries are lovely girls that bring dead to Valhalla.

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