Author – Neil Gaiman
Pages – 301
Format – Audiobook
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Anyone wanting to learn about Norse Mythology needs to read this book.
Anybody familiar with, or an expert on Norse Mythology, needs to read this book.
And by read I’d encourage you to listen to the audiobook if you can. And I’ll explain why.
Most readers can probably say their passion for books started at a young age. Not for books; for stories. Neil Gaiman narrates his own book here and his storytelling charisma and obvious passion for retelling the Norse Myths shines through. In a way it’s hypnotic and I found myself hanging off every word.
If there were tickets for a campfire story with Neil Gaiman, I’d be at the front of the queue with my week’s wages ready as a deposit; he’s recreated the wonder and delight of being read a story I haven’t had since my Dad used to read to me at bedtime – one of my favourite parts of the day. Audiobooks in the past that I’ve read – my review score on Goodreads has never been influenced by the narrator; only by the words themselves, and it will be the case here too – but I always start my reviews with what stands out most and I am just so passionate and delighted with how good the narration is for this book.
So, onto the book itself. It’s not a novel. It’s not a creation from scratch as such either – it’s Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Norse Myths. By that I don’t mean he’s changed the stories, but he’s told them with the embellishment and pinache of his own fantastic imagination. And despite not being a novel, he excels in painting a picture that feels like it follows on and links with the others to create an overarching story rather than isolated shorts, which the book essentially is.
So bear this in mind if you’re expecting a new work of fiction in the form of a novel.
I knew vaguely of the Norse Myths and did know some of the Gods, but I learnt so much listening to this book which, combined with further reading, puts me in good stead to speak with a little more confidence in my upcoming Norsevember event. In addition to keeping you transfixed on these stories, Gaiman brings emotion, touching moments, a good dose of humour, excitement and fun.
I particularly enjoyed Gaiman’s interpretation of Thor, and his portrayal of Fenriswolf was spine chilling.
This book is magic and I’m confident you’ll love it whether it’s on audiobook, ebook or a physical copy (though I do love the Audiobook a lot)
If you’re excited about/taking part in the Norsevember event too, it’s pretty much essential reading and you won’t regret it.
Thanks for reading!