Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Title: Norse Mythology
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: None
Published: February 2017
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company
Pages: 299
From: Christmas gift
Rating: 7/10

Alright. Here is a book that started out very different than what I was expecting, but ended on the most amazing note ever! Norse Mythology, a collection of short stories compiled by the legend Neil Gaiman, is essentially a book of the myths and legends from Norse history. They center around Loki, Thor and Odin, the three most popular Norse deities, and a slew of lesser known gods and goddesses and immortal creatures in the myths, and how their histories lead to the end, and therefore the beginning, of the world.

I’ve read several other Gaiman books in the past, but they were years ago. Diving into this book, which I received as a Christmas gift last winter from my parents, was a decision I’d wanted to make sooner, but just never did. And since I have been obsessing over the Norse culture and mythology even more recently, I decided now was the best time to do it. And I did, but had a hard time with it.

The beginning is just an introduction by Gaiman, explaining how the book came into being. It was an essay, and I was not in the mood for an essay. But, once I got past that and started reading the stories, my opinion changed slightly. I read this book at a decent pace, but the beginning felt a bit disconnected to me. It was almost as if the stories and characters were a bit two-dimensional, very flat. The stories were alright in the beginning, but the further into the book I got, the more invested I became, until the very end.

The story at the end is the most widely known story in Norse mythology, I think, and it was a necessary story to include. And that is why I gave this book a higher rating than I originally planned: because the ending was the most amazing ending for a story like this. It was so well written, the prose just spoke to me. The language was beautiful, the images horrifying and epic, the character development just perfect for that moment in the story. It was the best ending for such an epic journey for the reader, and I was glad for it.

Aside from the ending, my favorite moments were learning how some famous creatures and deities came or left existence. It was super neat seeing the births of Jormungandr the Midgard serpent, Sleipnir the eight-legged horse, and Hel the ruler of the Nordic underworld. I also really liked Thor as a character, and Freya’s treatment by the other gods and creatures of the mythological universe.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and think if I read it again at a later date, I will enjoy it even more because I will have a better understanding of what to expect and how the characters’ stories play out. And now, I cannot wait to find more Norse-inspired fiction out in the world!

Norse Mythology can be purchased online and in brick and mortar bookstores everywhere. For another review of the book, check out a review of the book on Annie Walls here.

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