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Penguin Book Of Norse Myths: Gods Of The Vikings

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  3,465 ratings  ·  160 reviews
The Scandinavian myths form a linked chain of stories, creating a mighty, fantastical world teeming with gods and goddesses, master-smiths and magicians. This book reveals a dynamic culture in which is reflected the Norseman's spirit and confidence, his ruthlessness and cruelty, arrogance and generosity.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published January 7th 1997 by Penguin UK (first published July 12th 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brandi



What We Learned from "Thor" (skip if you remember the movie)
- The universe consists of nine realms.
- The gods live in Asgard, humans live in Midgard, and the Ice Giants live in Jotunheim.
- The nine realms are connected by the roots/branches of a tree called Yggdrasill.
- Odin is the Allfather, or most powerful.
- Thor is Odin's son and the god of thunder.
- Sif is one of the warriors from the movie.
- Loki is... well, you know who he is. The most cunning villain of all time.

This is what Marvel sh
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John
When it comes to myths and folktales, I'm something of a purist. The cultural aspects are often as interesting to me as the stories themselves, so I like to feel like I'm getting something relatively authentic. Unfortunately, this usually means wading through painfully academic translations, skipping back and forth between sterile prose and dry footnotes, salvaging what entertainment is left in the stories.

Rather than simply translate-and-annotate, Crossley-Holland has compiled these stories fro
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John Campbell
May 17, 2007 John Campbell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially nordic folk
Crossley-Holland turns the myths into a cultural event with an informative introduction and copious endnotes, which compose about a fourth of the book.
The stories themselves, though, come across as short folk tales for children (no offense intended to old Snorri Sturulson and company). The one exception, the prophecy of Ragnarok, which packs an entire mythical apocalypse of universal darkness and destruction into four pages. It's worth reading, re-reading, and a little memorizing. Start with:
Ax
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Sarah
Aug 10, 2007 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nerds, members of Led Zeppelin
I bought this at a tiny occult bookshop near the British Museum in June and have been stretching it out ever since. The dork in me really, really enjoys Norse myths. And I liked the notes at the end of each tale, where Crossley-Holland explained which parts came from Snorri Sturluson and which came from Saxo Grammaticus and hi I am single.
Don Lloyd
I knew a bit about the Norse Myths before reading this book, but then I read several novels that make extensive use of them (Gaiman, American Gods; Chabon, Summerland) and realized I wanted to learn more. I liked this retelling because Crossley-Holland takes and integrates the six primary literary sources (who knew?) and creates story cycle. When I was reading, I had strong contradictory feelings of familiarity and strangeness. Some of the character motivations are ones we're all familiar with, ...more
Betsy
Jul 17, 2007 Betsy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pagans and vikings
I love reading the Norse myths, and this one doesn't disappoint, with plenty of detailed stories. The very long introduction provides a welcome list of the pantheon, along with a map of the Norse 'world,' which makes it easier to keep track of these things. I revisit this book now and again for a good story; my favorites are probably the stories of Creation and Ragnarok (apocalypse).
Read with a flagon of ale and a roaring fire (preferably seated a reindeer pelt) to truly get into the mood.
Andrew
Very nice introduction to the major Norse gods & myths. Crossley-Holland combines serious scholarship with a strong prose style to make the myths accessible to a cross-section of readers, the curious and serious alike. I found the extensive "Notes" section just as enjoyable as the myths themselves.
Allie B
I had always meant to read the Norse myths but had never got around to it until recently. I'm so glad that I chose Kevin Crossley-Holland's retelling of these fascinating myths. He has skilfully drawn on multiple sources from pre-Christian and Christian Iceland and other Nordic countries; however most of all he draws from Snorri Sturluson's 'Prose Edda' (written in approx 1220). If you're not familiar with the myths, I would advise reading the 'introduction' beforehand; it contains a map of the ...more
Kayleigh
As interesting and informative as this collection was, it also left me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness that so many of the myths (mentioned, but not included in this text for obvious reasons) exist only in a very fragmented form or have been lost altogether. So many figures were only mentioned once, so many stories alluded to in other myths but never told. Of the stories that have survived, many exist in more than one form with no way of to determine which is the original. These circumst ...more
Abi
A good compilation from a variety of sources. Sometimes the bits added in by Crossley-Holland annoyed me, as there was no basis for them in the myths, such as the fact that Loki's eyes kept changing colour... that was just weird. Generally the dialogue was OK, though, and Crossley-Holland does a good job of translating the humour and mood. When all's said and done, the stories are very entertaining so it would be difficult to ruin them. The introduction and the notes are excellent, lending a mor ...more
Barb Middleton
This is quite the scholarly feat. Kevin Crossley-Holland takes different sources with conflicting versions of Norse myths and creates a medley of 32 stories that are interesting and confusing. His copious notes at the end clarify the contradictory elements and he captures the flavor of the unique poems from that period of time. Kennings are a form of Anglo-Saxon poetry that are very difficult to decipher and understand. The author presents scaldic poetry in a rich manner that's oral background b ...more
Jens
What can I say its the norse myths probably the most intersting of world mytholgy that ive read. This has become a bit of a hobby of mine adn I recommend this book to anyone. Unlike most mythology books the author has re-writen the myths in a more readable light. This book reads more like a novel than a history book but still covers all aspects of the myhs and great notes at the end. Valhalla when I die!
Kirsten
This is a really excellent collection. The myths are retold with humor and enthusiasm, and Crossley-Holland's notes are excellent. A lot of times it's hard to find collections of myths that are well-documented and scholarly (rather than simply being retellings that don't list the source material) but are still readable as complete stories rather than being fragmentary. This collection lands right on the money.
Patrick
Mar 19, 2009 Patrick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, fantasy readers
Awesome, awesome book, and certainly a must-read for fans of Tolkien or fans of fantasy literature in general. Kevin Crossley-Holland draws from several primary and secondary sources to deliver a complete and academic study of the Norse myths.
Tom
Well Mickey, since you nagged me - this is my first entry.

The myths are pretty good, the start and end notes take a certain amount of plowing through - perhaps more for the full on anthropologist or someone really into the historical background. I enjoyed the myths, however they could do with being a bit lengthier (more story like) although I think that is a general issue with reading all sorts (Greek / Roman etc) unless you are studying them. Still some note reading to do - he certainly has a
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Mark Adderley
I don't normally like re-tellings of mythology. I'd rather read the original sources, wherever possible. This is the exception to that rule--Crossley-Holland makes the myths accessible with a beautiful style that invites the reader to walk with the characters (itself a skill, since these are gods).

So, after reading this (for the second time), what strikes me is the innate sadness of the Norse view of the universe. The Ragnarok story seems to indicate that all creation is cyclical--the universe w
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Don
Like so many of the folk tales and myths of a particular culture, the problem one encounters in wanting to read "the Norse myths" consists at least in part in figuring out just what tales to read, and in what order; so many of them interrelate that it can be a dizzying prospect to even know where to start. In this, then, Kevin Crossley-Holland's excellent book is nothing short of stellar. Exhaustively researched, this collection retells a series of thirty-two Norse myths - some rightly famed, ot ...more
David Gullen
I hugely enjoyed this re-telling of the myths. The tales are by turns strange, bizarre, outrageous, bloodthirsty and poignant. Crossley-Holland is a gifted writer and poet and brings emotional intensity and vivid realism to these intense and at times enigmatic stories. The detailed explanations and analysis of each tale at the back of the book are a useful and interesting resource.

There are two types of story in these myths - the wildly implausible adventures, including drinking bouts, seduction
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Phoebe
Embarrassing to admit this -- since I dated (for 4 years) a wonderful man who eventually went on to get a PhD focusing on Viking burials -- but... I've never really been able to get excited about the grim dude-fest that is Norse Mythology. Until this book. Told by Kevin Crossley-Holland, the stories actually feel exciting now! I read one every night, and when I'm done I'm even motivated to go to the notes section to read its background. A great first book on Norse mythology. P.S. I still roll my ...more
Jeffrey Russom
An excellent read I highly recommend for anyone. Crossley creates a fine, readable catalog of the surviving Norse myths in an approachable style that is both entertaining and educational. Myths are presented in a sensical chronological order such that later myths are easier to understand (e.g. the myth detailing the origin of Thor's hammer is presented before myths telling of tales in which Thor's hammer is stolen or lost). This makes the presentation very episodic and easy to read.

The book cata
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Duncan
Crossley-Holland seems to think he knows the Norse myths, which he apparently learned at the knee (or upon the knees) of a particularly strict and perhaps licentious Catholic priest. He mixes up Mimir and Kvaser, misspells the Teutonic Tiw as Tiwaz, seems obsessed with 'proving' a relationship between the Norse Gods and the Indian pantheon, and worse, seems to revel in self-glorifying "notes" which often take up more space than his pathetic and limited retellings of the myths themselves. If, in ...more
Matt
I knew very little about Norse mythology when starting this book, and I'm very glad I sat down to read it. The Norse Myths are fascinating and the themes and influences are so different from the typical Greek and Roman stuff that I've read in the past. This book was refreshing fiction.

In addition, the author provided excellent context for the myths by giving readers loads of background history and notes. The extra depth made for a much richer experience.
Paul Haspel
The Norse myths loom up through the winter mists, cold and grim and wondrous. They are bleak, fatalistic tales of gods who not only are doomed but know their doom: they know exactly how they will die, and the only question is when Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, will occur. Perhaps that is part of why the Norse myths have such power: the Norse gods live in the constant knowledge and contemplation of their frailty and mortality, just as we do.

In The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley-Holland, an Eng
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Old Man Scaps
The best collection of Norse Myths I've ever read. For me, it's because all of Crossley-Holland's translation decisions-- sources, syntax, vocabulary-- are made in the name of preserving the uniquely comic/tragic character of the gods. A delight to read.
Jeremy
Finally finished! I would highly recommend this as a primer on Norse Mythology. The retellings are extremely approachable, and the author goes into each one explaining the sources and where he's made changes from them and why.
Nadine
This is the first book I have ever read about Norse myths so I can’t really judge how good the book is content-wise. The introduction was informative, but a bit dry. Then 32 myths were presented, differing in lengths and style. Some of the myths were familiar to me, others I had never heard of. Most of them were interesting, but a couple I found boring. Also the writing was inconsistent. Some myths were written better than others, and although the author explains his reasons for this in the intr ...more
Tim
I bought this collection of myths to expand my (small) collection of books about the Vikings. Having read a few books on the subject (incl. the The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson), I thought it would be fun reading again about the myths and what not of this era.

Kevin Crossley-Holland made a selection of myths, basing himself on various sagas and books written by various authors. In the large introduction he gives a detailed explanation of the Norse pantheon, the cosmology, the nine worlds, and s
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Anika
This review was originally posted on my blog: Saturday Night's Alright for Writing

I came to The Penguin Book of Norse Myths as a fan of The Avengers. I thought Thor and Loki were fascinating in the movies, both as individuals and in their dynamic with each other. I picked up this book to get a better understanding of where the characters came from and how they were adapted for Marvel's universe. The answer: they're very different.

The Norse gods are not necessarily likeable characters. Thor is a
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Corina
A culture finds the gods it needs ... and the Norse world needed a god to justify the violence that is one of its hallmarks.

These gods, they are reflections of extremes, impulsive children with adult-like appearance that constantly organize new feats to kill boredom. After-life can only happen in Hel, and there is nothing one can do not to reach there because destiny is determined ("No man can deny Urd, even though her gifts are unearned.").
‘Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for an
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Adastra
I've been looking for suggestions for a good book about Norse Mythology for some time, and I found this in the Bibliography of American Gods (and the Sandman) on Neil Gaiman's homepage. This book is exactly what I wanted - a retelling of the Eddaic Poems in normal text / story form, easy to understand. Kevin Crossley-Holland has retold 32 Myths from collected sources, and always used the most likely source for the main story, sometimes embellishing small details from other sources.

There are all
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Kevin Crossley-Holland is a well-known poet and prize-winning author for children. His books include Waterslain Angels, a detective story set in north Norfolk in 1955, and Moored Man: A Cycle of North Norfolk Poems; Gatty's Tale, a medieval pilgrimage novel; and the Arthur trilogy (The Seeing Stone, At the Crossing-Places and King of the Middle March), which combines historical fiction with the re ...more
More about Kevin Crossley-Holland...
The Seeing Stone (Arthur Trilogy, #1) At the Crossing Places (Arthur Trilogy, #2) King of the Middle March (Arthur Trilogy, #3) The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology Crossing to Paradise

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“Lif and Lifthrasir will have children. Their children will have children.
There will be life and new life, life everywhere on earth. That was the end; and this is the beginning.”
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“The three sons of Bor had no liking for Ymir... At last they attacked Ymir and killed him. His wounds were like springs; so much blood streamed from them and so fast, that the flood drowned all the frost giants except Bergelmir and his wife. They embarked in their boat and rode out on a tide of gore” 2 likes
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