Paul Eckert's Reviews > Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Sep 20, 2010

really liked it
Read from September 16 to 20, 2010

Nobody does a quest story like Neil Gaiman, and over the years it has proven to be his bread and butter. The reason why it always works so well is that he gives us strange characters that we can relate to, characters that want something and must strive and suffer to get it.

The premise in a nutshell: In Norway during the time of the Vikings, a young boy named Odd runs away from home and encounters three gods who have been displaced from their home by the Frost Giants and transformed into animals. The longer the Frost Giants control the gods’ home, the longer Odd’s village will be stuck in perpetual winter. For the sake of his village, Odd travels with the gods to displace the Frost Giants.

Odd and the Frost Giants is a typical Gaiman quest story, but this time with children as the target audience. And it’s a nice change of pace from his typical quest story. Normally his protagonists are ‘normal’ (i.e., non-magical, un-supernatural) people trying to navigate a supernatural world in order to accomplish something for themselves and the inhabitants of the supernatural world, often times with the supernatural characters as their tour guides and helping hands. Odd and the Frost Giants is no different in this regard, but for once the main character, Odd, seems to be more clever and cunning than his supernatural counterparts. In a sense, I think this reveals a flaw in the supernatural characters, that maybe they were just straw men in order to make Odd look good. But I think it could also be that, because the gods were kicked out of their home and forced to live in the bodies of animals, they became increasingly animal-like and less god-like.

At any rate, I wish the supernatural characters had been given a bit more backstory to really show who they were before they were transformed in order to contrast their present state with their true state. However, the story is short, and it works well with the short amount of backstory that’s provided.

This was a quick, fun story with some interesting themes about beauty and what it means to man and to the gods. I think children will get a kick out of the story as well, as there is constantly something fascinating to capture the attention, especially those with a bend toward the fantastical. There is a lot for them to consider in this story, and I think they will enjoy reading it multiple times.

I listened to the audiobook version of this story, and it was a treat to hear Mr. Gaiman read his story. He is almost as good at performing his stories as he is writing them.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Colin (new)

Colin McKay Miller Nice analysis on this one.

Paul Eckert Colin wrote: "Nice analysis on this one."

Thank you, sir!

message 3: by Richard (new)

Richard Thomas would you call this YA or straight Gaiman?

Paul Eckert It's definitely YA, but not in a bad way. It reminded me of a really cool fairy tale.

Here's a snippet of why this book came about (taken from a review from Amazon):

"Gaiman wrote Odd and the Frost Giants as his personal contribution to World Book Day in the United Kingdom, which exists purely to inspire children to read. It's an annual event where a group of authors write books for nothing and publishers publish them for nothing. These books are then sold for £1 each to children who have been given £1 Book Tokens. On its website, the World Book Day organization ( describes it as "the biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading."

message 5: by Richard (new)

Richard Thomas wow, for that alone, i'd buy it - i enjoy some YA, The Harry Potter series, some Sherman Alexie, and i've read a lot of Gaiman, was just asking :-)

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