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Ragnarok

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  3,856 Ratings  ·  705 Reviews
Tells the story of a young girl evacuated to the British countryside during the Second World War. Struggling to make sense of her life, she is given a book of Norse myths, and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.
Paperback, 179 pages
Published 2012 by Canongate Books (first published October 1st 2011)
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Jaidee
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars-books

5 "Byatt speaks to me like nobody else" stars.

5th Favorite Read of 2015

Quite simply...Byatt is the reason I read.

She has written the unbelievable novel "Possession" who along with Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" are my two favorite novels and I have read each of them several times throughout my life and I feel nostalgic, like I've come home after being exiled and I can sit and commune with the wonderful characters and plots that lie therein.

Ragnarok was the only Byatt I had left to read. I was trepi
...more
Riku Sayuj

Ragnarok: The End of The Gods – A Re-view
or
Ragnarok: The Twilight of the Reader

While the others in the Cannongate series re-imagined the stories, Byatt reread it. And then told the tale of reading it. Underwhelming? To an extent, yes. But, the Norse myths are magnificent enough to come alive of themselves even when the author decides to color them distant.

Byatt gives her reasoning for this approach in the end - saying that she believes myths should not be humanized and the experience of imbibin
...more
Cecily
This is a remarkably good book, that I somehow failed to enjoy as much as I wanted or expected, but I think the failing is mine, rather than Byatt's, and reading my notes below, I'm puzzled that I liked and admired, rather than loved it (all-too familiar in my relationship with Byatt).

"The thin child in wartime"

The child is a semi-autobiographical version of Byatt herself. She is given a book of Norse legends, that she treasures. Those stories are retold through her eyes and thoughts, intersper
...more
Richard Derus
Apr 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 1* of five (p41)

"...Airmen were the Wild Hunt. They were dangerous. If any hunter dismounted, he crumbled to dust, the child read. It was a good story, a story with meaning, fear and danger were in it, and things out of control."

I have Byatted for the last time. I love the Norse myths, and this precious twitzy-twee retelling of them through "the child"'s horrible little beady eyes made me want to Dickens up all over the place.

I tried. I really tried. I read some of Possession. It was lik
...more
Davide
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, 2011-2018
Da un certo punto in poi, in tutti i libri di Antonia c'è sempre qualcuno (o più di uno) che racconta una qualche forma di fiaba crudele.
In tutti i libri di Antonia ci sono sempre dei momenti di straordinaria minuziosa capacità descrittiva.
In questo libro ci sono entrambi questi caratteri così suoi, ma non avviluppati con le vicende di personaggi intriganti: va da sé che la lettura ne risente.

L’aggancio con Asgard è autobiografico: «C’era una bambina magra, che aveva tre anni quando scoppiò la g
...more
Terence
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: LRB advert
Update (8/15/12): A week or so ago I listened to the Audio CD and was impressed - again - with just how good this book is. The reader (whose name I've forgotten) does an excellent job, and I gained a better understanding of what I had read from listening to it.

Update (6/6/12): I found the short story I mentioned in my review below. It's from an anthology titled Starlight 3 and called "Wolves Till the World Goes Down," by Greg Van Eekhout. (view spoiler)
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Ajeje Brazov
Qualche giorno fa passavo in biblioteca, per restituire dei libri e poi per girovagare tra gli scaffali in cerca di qualcosa che mi colpisse, non che avessi problemi di libri da leggere, ne ho centinaia in attesa di lettura da me.
Però ci sono momenti in cui ti perdi tra gli scaffali ed incominci a tirare su libri, quasi a caso, ed inizi a sfogliarli, magari per il titolo o la copertina, o l'autore che hai sentito tanto parlare e che non hai ancora letto niente. Ecco Ragnarok fa parte di questa u
...more
Teresa
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book would probably be more interesting to those who know nothing, or not much, of Nordic mythology. Since I, as Byatt, read stories from this mythology as a child, I found myself looking for more, perhaps a retelling or an allegory (or more of the story of the 'thin child,' which is Byatt herself), which is exactly what Byatt says in her "Thoughts on Myths" (at the end) she didn't want to write.

More than anything else, this novella is Byatt's love-letter to Asgard and the Gods, and shows h
...more
Nikki
I was hoping, when I read this Canongate retelling, for something more along the lines of a reinterpretation. A.S. Byatt's retelling is a fairly straight one, drawing together various different strands of the myth, through the eyes of a child during the war reading the myths and relating them to her life.

I've read the myths myself -- studied them -- so reading about a child reading about them didn't really work as a way to experience them for myself. There is some beautiful language here, but th
...more
Marica
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
La sfera di pietra sfrecciava nel vuoto
Antonia Byatt ci racconta i miti norreni, che culminano col Ragnarök, la caduta degli dei. Si tratta di miti di origine danese, norvegese e islandese: mi è venuto spontaneo confrontarli con i miti olimpici della tradizione greca e romana e non potrebbero essere più diversi: alla solarità degli dei olimpici, belli, gaudenti ed eterni si contrappone un Valhalla di guerrieri che si uccidono reciprocamente e valorosamente tutti i giorni in battaglia e che la se
...more
Gary
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book as an impromptu present (the best sort really) and hence I dislike being churlish about it, but... this is not a real story in the sense that I was expecting anyway. It's a re-telling of the Norse Myths - Odin, Thor, Loki etc. loosely set within the confines of the 'thin' girl's reflections on her own experience of the second world war. It's a very loose narrative setting at that and much of this comes from AS Byatt's own childhood I think. I have enjoyed her books previous ...more
Steven Walle
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A. S. Byaat is an awesome linguist. The words of this book captivate you and you just can't put it down.
It is a book about a young thin girl, in war time Great Brittan. She finds a book about the Norse fables of the Gods and giants and allows her to escape her own very scarey reality. I recommend this book to all ages.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Diamond
Chris
I have been waiting years for this book, ever since I got my first book in the Canongate series.

There is something about a well loved book. Not only can you remmeber the plot, but you can also, quite easily, remember the first time you read the book. The train, the room, the seat, the feeling. It's not every book, but those well loved books. For me they number books such as The Hero and the Crown, Wyrd Sisters, and Duncton Tales.

Of course Possession is one those books.

This book by Byatt starts s
...more
Arun Divakar
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot put a finger on what is the one factor that attracts me to Nordic mythology. When I tend to give it some thought, I feel it is the character of Odin that I find to be the most noteworthy. There is to me a certain enigma associated with this characterization of ultimate power. Wandering the world as a one eyed old man in a long & billowing cloak with a hat pulled down covering most of his face is this king of gods. I draw parallels with the hindu god Shiva here for he is shown as an ...more
Jonathan Terrington
The stories of the Norse gods have always fascinated me for a variety of different reasons. Here in this short novella, A.S. Byatt captures the spirit of these myths with short and poetic prose. She tells these stories through the point of view of a 'thin girl' who escapes to this mythology during WWII.

The events of WWII are cleverly contrasted against the horrific events of the mythology of Ragnarok and the death of the gods. At the end A.S. Byatt clarifies that she chose to use particular tran
...more
Cynthia
I found this book uninteresting in the beginning. It took at least 20 pages or so to spark my imagination. Byatt is a writer I love though so I persisted and it paid off. The nominal narrator is referred to as the thin girl. She loves to read the old Norse tales from her mother’s many books. She’s reading them in the country where she and her mom have gone to escape the London Blitz. Her dad has been away for many years bombing the enemy’s towns. She knows he won’t come back. She reads late into ...more
Derek
Bravo! This was a marvel in every sense of the word. It's a simple tale--a thin girl relates Asgard And The Gods plus Pilgrim's Progress to the wartime life she's inhabited. That's what's on the surface. Beneath that, this is a clever book about the end of our own world, but the beauty of it is it's not written as an allegory nor is it a sermon or full of eschatological leaning. It's a story about the power of myths, and how myths can unify a culture. In its deepest honesty this a book about hum ...more
Audrey
I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.

When I saw this title, I immediately requested it because it combines two of my favorite things: Norse mythology and A.S. Byatt. After doing a little research, I discovered that this is part of Canongate's series of retold world myths by famous novelists. I'm glad I had that little bit of guidance, because I don't know that I would've known what Byatt was trying to do, otherwise.

Don't get me wrong. This novella is full of
...more
EditorialEyes
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For this review and others, visit the EditorialEyes Blog.
~*~
5 out of 5

This is not exactly a novel. Not exactly fiction, not exactly autobiography, not exactly allegory. Ragnarök: The End of the Gods, A.S. Byatt’s reweaving of the Norse cycle of myths is, for such a short book, epic. Ragnarök is part of the Canongate Myth Series, which since 1999 has published retellings of famous myths by accomplished authors the world over (you might recognize Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad or Philip Pull
...more
Tom
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More complete and profound a retelling of Norse myths and their power than other less accomplished authors have recently published. Framed by the story of 'a thin child in wartime', Byatt's work illuminates both myth and the tottering world in which we now dwell.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This skinny book is really a novella, closed with a brief essay. And in that way Byatt does so well, this small book on Norse mythology also tells a story of marriage and motherhood, war, loss, escapism, violence. Insidious, along the edges of the larger story, what seems to be a straight-forward retelling of some aspects of Norse mythology actually tells us a story of World War II, Byatt-as-a-child, and the way a good story can help us escape our reality.

Unlike some of the other Canongate Myth
...more
Nick
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Norse tales have always seemed to me the most powerful of the old mythologies that have come down to us in anything approaching a coherent body of work. Unlike the Graeco-Roman corpus, we have not been overexposed to them through Hollywood and cliche (with the exception of Thor, who is relatively uninteresting). The figure of Odin seems to me particularly compelling, the wandering riddler and seeker of wisdom; the Voluspo, the ancient poem in which he resurrects and questions a dead witch ab ...more
Sookie
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, mythology
Byatt re-read this book as a part of Canongate myth series and managed to make Norse mythology boring - which I thought wasn't possible. A semi-biographical narration goes only so far when the repetitive "that thin child" description becomes irritating. For most part of non-mythological story, I kept thinking, "Why is Byatt referencing to her childhood self as "thin child". Why not the child? Why not anything else?" There isn't a reason unless it was a giant metaphor for war ridden, alienated, l ...more
Jane
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5. Limpid, flowing telling of Norse myths, using as a frame story "the thin child in wartime", who is reading Asgard and the Gods, periodically relating her experiences and thoughts to the book, e.g., the wolves pursuing the chariots of sun and moon and that of Baldur's death suggest to her that her father won't be coming back from the war. The author's analysis of myth, comparison of the Norse gods to us in their stupidity and greed, and how we are hurtling towards a Ragnarok of our own [wi ...more
Charly
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
My first read of anything by Byatt and I was impressed by the telling of the story using her child-self as a foil for reviewing the rise and eventual fall of the gods. Her discussion of myth was also very interesting.

The gods in this book are vengeful, some nasty, and bring about their own demise. Not exactly fairy tale, which is a point she makes. that in some cultures the myths of the gods have been brought down to fairy tale level to make the hard lessons and actions more palatable, such is
...more
Ana Rînceanu
The writing was beautiful, but it would have impacted me more had I known more about Norse mythology before reading this book. There are simply too many gods to care about and it's a testament to the writer that I became invested in the outcome of the girl as much as the outcome of Ragnarok itself.
Noelia Alonso
Jun 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I picked it up believing this was going to be Byatt's take on Ragnarok but the blurb had nothing to do with what was within the pages. Basically, this is more a textbook than anything else. And yes, I do love Norse mythology but it wasn't even written in an engaging manner. All in all, a dull and unsubstantial book.
Dvd (polemologico e pantoclastico)
Soddisfatto a metà da questo romanzo.

La prosa è molto raffinata e immaginifica, certamente non banale e si vede la mano d'una grande scrittrice.

Sull'ambientazione il giudizio è duplice: lo sfondo è quello dell'Inghilterra avvolta nell'incubo della II guerra mondiale, raccontata con gli occhi di una bambina magra in tempo di guerra , che altri non è se non l'autrice stessa durante la sua infanzia da sfollata nella campagna inglese. La bambina vive quegli anni difficili accompagnandosi con un libr
...more
Steffi
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ich bin dankbar, dass ich mich an dem Tisch mit herabgesetzten Büchern letztlich doch für dieses Werk entschieden habe. Ich kannte Byatt schon (Besessen habe ich sehr gemocht. Die The Matisse Stories auch, Morpho Eugenia hat mich leider gelangweilt, Das Buch Der Kinder wartet im Regal noch darauf gelesen zu werden) und war überwiegend positiv gestimmt, aber Ragnarök? Ich habe keine Ahnung von nordischer Mythologie und jeder Versuch mich dieser zu nähern (wie bei so ziemlich jedem Mythenkreis) wa ...more
Mike
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always felt that the majority of people tend to gravitate towards classical mythology as there stories of choice. The place of the classical epics has been firmly cemented in our educational system for so long now that this shouldn’t really surpise anyone. While I certainly have respected and enjoyed stories grounded in classical myth my heart has always been more firmly entrenched in the cold, harsh world of Norse myth. Where the threat of annihilation weighs heavy on the hearts of the god ...more
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A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize winner Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Ey ...more
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“He was beautiful, that was always affirmed, but his beauty was hard to fix or to see, for he was always glimmering, flickering, melting, mixing, he was the shape of a shapeless flame, he was the eddying thread of needle-shapes in the shapeless mass of the waterfall. He was the invisible wind that hurried the clouds in billows and ribbons. You could see a bare tree on the skyline bent by the wind, holding up twisted branches and bent twigs, and suddenly its formless form would resolve itself into that of the trickster.” 32 likes
“The reading eye must do the work to make them live, and so it did, again and again, never the same life twice, as the artist had intended.” 11 likes
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