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Myths of the Norsemen: Retold from the Old Norse Poems and Tales

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews

From the page preceding the title page;

“The myths of the Northmen, from the ice and snow of the Scandinavian countries, tell how in the beginning there was only the Yawning Void, which they called Ginnungagap, but deep in the Void lay the Well of Life. In course of time ice piled over the Well, and out of it grew something they called Ymir, the father of the terrib
Paperback, 262 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Puffin Books (first published 1960)
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The Prose Edda by Snorri SturlusonRunemarks by Joanne HarrisThe Poetic Edda by AnonymousEaters of the Dead by Michael CrichtonOdd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
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45th out of 158 books — 296 voters
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Top Books on Germanic Paganism
39th out of 106 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 31, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing
I was raised on myths rather than fairytales. No telling of the Norse tales I've since read has affected me half as strongly as this, my first. I would've been about 9 or 10, and Yggsdrasil the World Tree and the various realms were described so beautifully that I dreamed of them in full colour. I was inconsolable at the death of Baldur - on his blind brother Hodur's behalf, tricked by Loki into killing the person he loved most in the world. I felt the momentum pick up as Ragnarok hurtled closer ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Potatowast3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Marvel Comics, like Loki, you almost tricked me.
Jan 06, 2016 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good series of Norse myth stories. Green has attempted to resolve some discrepancies, bridge some gaps, and present these stories as a single consistent narrative series of incidents. Having read Green's work on myths and stories before, I can tell that he works hard to "get out of the way" of the story so you hear the voice and tone of the story. Green's writing itself focuses on being clear and readable, which I strongly appreciate.

The stories themselves are very interesting, and come f
I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. The only other Norse tale I've read before was Beowulf, but I'm happy to have delved a little deeper into Norse mythology. This book has everything, from the creation of Yggdrasill (the world tree) and Midgard (Middle Earth) to Ragnarok (the Norse apocalypse) and everything in between. Overall, this is an excellent introduction to Norse mythology. The stories are retold in a very clear, concise way which makes it perfect for young and ...more
Matilda Rose
Jan 26, 2016 Matilda Rose rated it really liked it
My favourite myth was about Thor's Hammer. His hammer is stolen by a giant who will only give it back if he can marry the beautiful goddess Freya. Luckily, the gods manage to devise a plan to free Freya from the giant's evil clutches, which involves Thor dressing up as a girl! I also liked some of the other stories, including the making of the Earth, which was made from Ymir the frost giant. I think the Norse myths are very detailed!

I enjoyed this retelling of the Norsemen myths. I really like
Feb 27, 2015 Meg rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, february-2015
This was a fairly concise, narrative of the Norse legends. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it been laid out with more information and a clearer storyline. The style of writing danced between lyric and abrupt.
Sep 24, 2015 Jude rated it really liked it
In Myths of the Norsemen, Roger Lancelyn Green has taken the surviving Norse myths, collected from Old Norse poems and tales, and retold them as a single, continuous narrative. The entire Norse timeline is covered, offering a complete and concise history of the Aesir and their dealings with the Giants of Utgard, from the planting of The World Tree, Yggdrasill, right up to the last great battle Ragnarok.

This book is serves as more than just a story; it is a journey through the Norse lands, from b
Miranda the Gayvenger
I picked this up on a whim at the library even though I know not to look at books on Norse myths, because my experiences with the deities and everyone's interpretations of them tend to, shall we say, differ slightly.

I really should have kept to that rule.

"To find fetters to hold him the Aesir turned Loki's evil son Vali into a wolf[...]"

Excuse the fuck out of you, author. There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that Loki's sons with Sigyn were anything but good. Most modern practitioners agree that the
Jan 27, 2015 ^ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ^ by: Anyone with imagination & who loves a good story
A riveting read, and wonderful to read aloud / listen to, especially on a cold, dark, winter’s night.

It’s only really possible to fully appreciate Roger Lancelyn Green’s skill AFTER reading other collections of surviving Old Norse Legends. I can but suppose that either much was lost over the centuries, or perhaps the geography of Scandinavia acted to discourage storytellers from travelljng and recounting the legends they knew, to new audiences? The pace of the heroic narrative in this book neve
Luke Hatherton
Mar 22, 2015 Luke Hatherton rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was about 10 or 11 and was captivated by it. Green does an excellent job translating the stories into a form modern readers of even quite a young age can appreciate. The story is powerful and moving and contains tales of courage, pathos, wisdom, tragedy, and even humour.

The Norse gods are of course featured, but also their mortal enemies the Giants, as well as the humans of Midgard (in English: Middle-Earth), dwarves, and dark elves. The creation of the world, the gods ve
Jun 29, 2015 Bekka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy these myths as I had hoped I would. First, I have read that Green has changed certain elements of the myths therefore I wonder if I would enjoy other versions. But what I read seemed to be full of romanticizing the making of demons from difference and a pervasive sexism which I did not enjoy. I realize that these reflect upon olden times but I find that the Greek myths seem to hold more rounded characters/ gods (both female and male). I might look into Norse Mythology but just fr ...more
Anne Holly
Aug 02, 2015 Anne Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read, and a wonderful way to dip one's toes in Norse mythology. I can't say "if you only read one book on Norse myth, this would be it," because I don't know enough on the subject to make recommendations like that (and would never advocate just reading one book on anything, really), but its prose style makes this a strongly recommended read for those interested in folklore and mythology. It's concise and entertaining, and will likely stick with the reader a lot better than more d ...more
Caleb Walsh
Jul 30, 2015 Caleb Walsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Myths of the Norsemen is like the coolest book ever. I loved all the other books of this author, and this was definitely so exception. I loved everything about it. Yes, some of the things were a tad silly and unrealistic (as usual... it IS mythology!), but man, was it epic! The adventures were really interesting and exciting, the characters were realistically flawed and diverse, and the writing was beautifully detailed yet simply told.

My conclusion (as I already knew thanks to the Marvel franchi
Aug 08, 2015 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: library, 2015
I don't know much about Norse mythology, so I can't say much as to the accuracy of the book. I thought it was an easy read, though, that covers a lot of the basic myths. I enjoyed it and found I knew more Norse myths than I thought. (It's also clear that Tolkien drew heavily from places and people in Norse mythology (which is part of the reason I read the book). For instance, at one point "these Dwarfs, with Durin as their king, made rings and swords and priceless treasures, and mined gold out o ...more
Laurel Narizny
Jul 29, 2013 Laurel Narizny rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology-norse
I read this to my nine-year-old niece and nephew, who loved it. This version of the classic myths is good for children, since it elides the vast majority of the sex and the blood and guts, while still containing a great deal of action and adventure. The kids also liked the fact that it was presented as a chapter book, with one story (per chapter) flowing naturally into the next.

Personally, I prefer the original versions of the myths, such as the Edda--but for teens or adults looking for an easie
Jan 03, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
So here I am, once again, wondering how Roger Lancelyn Green can make these myths so incredibly dry, and yet my child is still interested in them.

This book was the latest of the bedtime story books for Jefferson, and pronouncing all the names was definitely its own form of torture. (A little help? A pronunciation guide somewhere? PLEASE?)

Yet, still, it was interesting (but dry!), adding to the little bit I already knew about Norse mythology. But I was definitely relieved when it was over.
Brent Roberts
May 08, 2015 Brent Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of myths and storie
Recommended to Brent by: mr. burby
Its rare to see a book on the gods of the norsemen and though I'm an fan of greek and read one or two egyptian I've never read an book on the norsemen. myths of the norsemen is a wonderful story well told of course and very comprehensive. 256 pages is not a lot of space to tell the story of an entire religion, and roger does a wonderful job of condensing that much knowledge in the space. The complaint I have is about the source material The names are well distinct but easily confused.
Abigail Pankau
Nov 11, 2015 Abigail Pankau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good compilation of the stories that nicely puts them together as one long narrative. Makes it much more readable overall

Side thought: it's interesting that much of the conflicts from the Norse gods is their bragging & easy tendancy to fight. As a contrast to the Greek gods who usually got into trouble with their philandering. I wonder how much of a reflection on these different cultures this is.
Anthony Skuce
Jan 17, 2014 Anthony Skuce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this to my kids, having read it first almost forty years ago as a child. I've always loved the fallible mortal Norse gods. And I love the way this version of their tale ends, with a vision of redemption in the face of destruction still to come. It's tragic and humane. My girls loved this book, as I did when I was young.
Aug 04, 2012 Kara rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-this-year
Not a great book. I was hoping for a good refresher on Norse mythology, but Green changes the stories a lot in order to create more of a good vs. evil situation than truly exists in the myths. The story-telling is alright, and very exciting in spots, but it shouldn't be taken as an actual depiction of the spirit of the myths.
Jun 10, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only recently discovered Roger Lancelyn Green and his fine narrative retellings of the great myths and legends of western literature. I'd only ever read Norse myths piecemeal and quite enjoyed them, but this filled in all the blanks and told a cogent myth from beginning to end. Really, really good.
May 29, 2013 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
This would be a great introductory book for younger readers who are interested in the Norse myths. The tales are told as part of a linked narrative, rather than stand-alone myths; they are rather simplified, but that makes sense when considering the target audience. Green's prose is accessible and detailed without becoming too wordy.
See "Myths of the Norsemen" for my review.

“Myths of the Norsemen” is a retitle of "The Saga of Asgard". The difference in page numbering can be accounted for by the different printers (C. Nicholls & Co. Ltd, Great Britain, and Western Printing Services, Bristol) use of different size typefaces.
Dec 18, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is wonderful - a complex set of myths and legends carefully woven together into a clear narrative with an unforgettable set of stories at its heart. I read it as a child and was fascinated by it then. I was equally fascinated after this latest re-read. Just brilliant.
Zoey Nealon
Nov 07, 2013 Zoey Nealon rated it liked it
Nice quick read. Made me realise how much I enjoy reading and hearing about norse myths as a whole. More of a children's/teen read, but definitely one that adults can enjoy too. Loved it! 3 out of 5 stars!
Nov 26, 2011 Georgina rated it really liked it
Much more readable than a lot of the books I've read recently and the gods very human. It seems they must have had a different defininition of wise in though days because I found Odin to be anything but. Very useful if you want to find out more about old norse legends.

Ends of a positive note.
Dave Maddock
Emmy wants to know why Baldur and Hodur go to Helheim when they die and are able to survive Ragnarok, but all the gods who die during Ragnarok do not enjoy the same. It's a fair question to which I'd also like to hear a satisfying explanation...
Barb Middleton
Apr 10, 2016 Barb Middleton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, mythology, vikings
Normally when I read Norse mythology the stories jump around and are episodic. This one tries to put them under an umbrella and gives the feeling of a narration as it follows Odin. It is one that I would have students read because of the clarity of the stories and excellent writing.
Jul 22, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Norse mythology is great fun, and this book did a fantastic job weaving the tales into a continuous narrative. A couple of the stories really revealed how much Tolkien "borrowed" for his Lord of the Rings series...
Jeremy Rios
Jun 11, 2013 Jeremy Rios rated it it was amazing
Wonderful and readable account of the Norse myths. Captures the heart and spirit of the literature nicely. If you like Norse myths you should enjoy this. If you've never read them, you should find this a pleasant introduction.
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Roger (Gilbert) Lancelyn Green was a British biographer and children's writer. He was an Oxford academic who formed part of the Inklings literary discussion group along with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Born in 1918 in Norwich, England, Green studied under C. S. Lewis at Merton College, Oxford, where he obtained a B.Litt. degree. He delivered the 1968 Andrew Lang lecture. Green lived in Cheshire ...more
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