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The Norse Myths

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  5,613 ratings  ·  276 reviews
Here are thirty-two classic myths that bring the Viking world vividly to life. The mythic legacy of the Scandinavians includes a cycle of stories filled with magnificent images from pre-Christian Europe. Gods, humans, and monstrous beasts engage in prodigious drinking bouts, contests of strength, greedy schemes for gold, and lusty encounters. The Norse pantheon includes Od ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 24th 2000 by Pantheon Books (first published July 1980)
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Ash Rogers The thing about Norse Mythology is that we don't have the original material and we never will. The ACTUAL stories have been lost to history. So Snorri…moreThe thing about Norse Mythology is that we don't have the original material and we never will. The ACTUAL stories have been lost to history. So Snorri Sturluson came along and wrote a few down, changed them up a bit, weaved in some Christian bits, and voila.
This is probably the closest you'll get to the actual tales without reading the Prose Edda.(less)
a.g.e. montagner Absolutely.
The stories are perfectly approachable for the non-specialist and sequenced according to internal logic as much as possibile, so it reads …more
The stories are perfectly approachable for the non-specialist and sequenced according to internal logic as much as possibile, so it reads like a cycle, from creation all through Ragnarök.
At the same time the extensive notes delve deeper into history, bibliography, anthropology, and point out the source text(s) for each of the myths, allowing the interested reader to move to primary texts.
I found this book more comprehensive and enjoyable than Norse Mythology by Gaiman, to name one. (less)

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 ·  5,613 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference

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
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, in-storage
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
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
Just finished my latest book of what I call bedtime stories. I read one a night. Now I get to pick another one. Now I know lots about Odin, Loki and the Giants!
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
John Campbell
May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
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:
Peter Martuneac
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic collection of stories, great selections made. My favorite was probably the telling of how Thor received Mjolnir in the first place, and why it's such a short hammer. A great read for any fan of the history of that region of the world.
Charles Bronson
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
The introduction and notes really made this book shine.
Don Lloyd
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
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
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Ieva Gr
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why I read it: I’m fascinated by Nordic countries and culture. Had a trip to Norway planned for right about now that I cancelled due to covid. Decided to at least read some Norse Myths to make up for it.

What I liked about it: That there was additional information provided, not only the myths. The old Norse world was first introduced as a text and only then through myths. And each myth had dedicated notes that helped to put it in context – where did it come from, how it relates to myths of other
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I will admit, I have been fascinated by the norse mythology for years. My introduction (and to Greek and Egyptian mythology) came from a game i played when 12; age of Mythology. In that game one plays as an atlantean admiral on a quest to stop demons and titans from returning to earth going from Greece to the nile and all the way to Scandinavia. Each mission one had to take a patron god and worship minor gods to gain favor, godly interventions and mythological creatures such as minotaurs, mummie ...more
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
Technically I didn't finish this as I decided to skip the notes, but I figure they are optional and as I actually read the introduction and all the myths, I'm counting this book as read.

They call Loki* the trickster God but really they all could have had this title. And not just the Gods, all of the creatures in this universe seemed hell bent on tricking each other at any opportunity. Yet Loki seems to be blamed the most, I think this is because he likes to trick other Gods and the others just s
Mark Adderley
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
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
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
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
Jul 17, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
J.M. Briggs
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
This is a very strong book of mythology. While it certainly doesn't cover every story it presents some of the most notable ones and is a good read. In addition to writing the stories in a way that makes them seem more like short stories Crossley-Holland also has some great discussion insights and notes on the different elements of the myths.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Reda El bardai
The book entitled The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland contains multiple series of myths throughout it. The Norsemen thought that there were 9 realms. Each realm contained different creatures. Asgard (home of the Aesir), Midgard (home of humans), Alfheim (home of the elves), Vanaheim (home of the Vanir), Jotunheim (home of the giants), Niflheim (home of the frost giants), Helheim (home of the dead), Nidavellir (home of the dwarves), and finally Muspelheim (home of demons). These realms were ...more
I greatly preferred this to Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. Kevin Crossley-Holland's retellings of the myths were lively. He provided history, cultural context, and insight that was written in an engaging manner. You can tell he's passionate about this subject, his excitement for the topic shined through the writing. I'd love to sit in on one of his lectures. Onto Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R Ellis Davidson next. A great companion read to either Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology or The N ...more
Jared McDonald
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Many of the Norse Myths are fragmented or lost and Kevin Crossley-Holland does a good job assembling their various pieces into a linear narrative that makes sense. The mythologies of the Germanic/Nordic people have always been interesting to me so it was fun to read through these tales and also see the connections between other cultures and religions. From the story of creation to Ragnarok this book will not disappoint.
Leonard Kim
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although Gaiman in his Norse Mythology writes of not daring to “go back to the tellers of Norse myth whose work I had loved, to people like. . . Crossley-Holland, and reread their stories”, he ended up producing something rather similar. If a student reads Gaiman in middle school, this would be a good follow-up for high school.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'They will sit down in the sunlight and begin to talk. Turn by turn, they will call up such memories, memories such as are known to them alone. They will talk over many things that happened in the past, and the evil of Jormungand and the wolf Fenrir. And then, amongst the waving grass, they will find golden chessboards, treasures owned once by the Aesir, and gaze at them in wonder.'
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great storytelling
Apr 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Barb Middleton
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, mythology
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
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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

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