Mar 01, 10
Read from February 28 to March 01, 2010
Neil Gaiman plies his writing skills to superb effect in this short, straightforwardly directed miniature novel that introduces a fine protagonist in the person of Odd, whom I hope to see more of in Neil Gaiman's future material.
Odd is a Scandinavian boy on whom fate has not always kindly smiled. His strong, creative father is dead, his mother has made a connection to an indifferent man who treats Odd as if he wishes that the boy did not exist, Odd's leg has been severely broken by his own lack of carefulness with his father's axe, and the throes of winter seem unwilling to recede into spring as always happens normally. Early on in the book, Odd strikes out on his own, but with little idea of the crazy adventure that awaits him.
Odd is soon grafted in by a fox, an eagle and a bear who clearly are more than they appear to be; after all, they can speak in human language. Odd finds out that he is in the company of three of the greatest Norse gods of them all—Odin, Thor and Loki—who have been tricked by the duplicitous Frost Giants people into giving up their power, and then altered to the animal forms in which they currently find themselves. These three gods now have little choice but to turn to young Odd, hoping that the boy with the shattered leg will be brave enough and intelligent enough to find a way to free the land from the icy rule of the Frost Giants.
This story is smart and nicely written all the way through. It goes to the point so directly that it doesn't take a large book to tell the story, but I like it that way. Kudos to Neil Gaiman on yet another enjoyable literary effort.