Eddie Black's Reviews > Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
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Apr 16, 2017

really liked it
bookshelves: mythology, pagan, religion

Finished off Gaiman's "Norse Mythology" last night before bed. It was a good intro. I already knew the stories and Gaiman's telling added little to them. Since I have already read the stories in various forms, the book wasn't a joy to read over all. If you've read "The Children of Odin" then this book will ring pretty similar.

A few times there was a point in the book where it seemed like Gaiman really started to stretch his legs. Again, I'm pretty biased and familiar here, so what seemed to me like tired writing, where he was phoning it in, is likely my familiarity with the subject matter and it not holding my attention. But a few times, say three or four, the character came to life. They were more than just tropes. The telling of the death of Balder was among the best I've seen written. How things transitioned from Frigg throwing a rock at Balder to show he will be okay, into a game where the gods all tried to harm him, to Loki's treachery, was wonderful. Ragnarock, too, was told wonderfully. It felt heroic, futile, necessary, generative.

This was really a book about Thor and Loki. Thor is impestuous and temperamental and dense as a rock. Loki is selfish and manipulative. Very narrow tellings of the gods and followers of either will be disappointed in the lampoonish nature they are portrayed. Odin, though said to be one of the main subjects in the book, isn't. He rarely appears in the book save for his story about getting the mead and Mimir's well. We don't get a full grasp of the ruthlessness of Odin in the pursuit of victory.

This book, while enjoyable, was not much different than "the Children of Odin". I'd recommend them both for one not familiar with the subject. But these are, again, introductory stories to tell around a fire. They are something you can tell your kids while you are camping. But they are missing depth and that diamond of serious study. I would not expect to see this in any classroom above high school. Certainly not at college level.
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Reading Progress

February 28, 2017 – Started Reading
February 28, 2017 – Shelved
February 28, 2017 – Shelved as: pagan
February 28, 2017 – Shelved as: mythology
February 28, 2017 – Shelved as: religion
February 28, 2017 –
24.0%
February 28, 2017 –
24.0% "So far I like it. I've read some of various sagas, the Eddas, and others, so this is all very familiar to me. Since it is so familiar to me might explain my letdown. I've never read any Gaiman before and was expecting my mind to be blown.

This is, however, a wonderfully approachable set of tales for the person new to this rich realm of gods and magic."
April 6, 2017 –
40.0% "Still enjoying this book.

It must be stated, however, that the level of stories here is akin to what I'd hear while tending bar. It isn't literature in any great sense. But it is approachable stories that you can tell to your squad while out in the field or around a fire."
April 6, 2017 –
40.0% "Still enjoying this book.

It must be stated, however, that the level of stories here is akin to what I'd hear while tending bar. It isn't literature in any great sense. But it is approachable stories that you can tell to your squad while out in the field or around a fire."
April 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Eddie (last edited Apr 16, 2017 12:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eddie Black Finished off Gaiman's "Norse Mythology" last night before bed. It was a good intro. I already knew the stories and Gaiman's telling added little to them. Since I have already read the stories in various forms, the book wasn't a joy to read over all. If you've read "The Children of Odin" then this book will ring pretty similar.

A few times there was a point in the book where it seemed like Gaiman really started to stretch his legs. Again, I'm pretty biased and familiar here, so what seemed to me like tired writing, where he was phoning it in, is likely my familiarity with the subject matter and it not holding my attention. But a few times, say three or four, the character came to life. They were more than just tropes. The telling of the death of Balder was among the best I've seen written. How things transitioned from Frigg throwing a rock at Balder to show he will be okay, into a game where the gods all tried to harm him, to Loki's treachery, was wonderful. Ragnarock, too, was told wonderfully. It felt heroic, futile, necessary, generative.

This was really a book about Thor and Loki. Thor is impestuous and temperamental and dense as a rock. Loki is selfish and manipulative. Very narrow tellings of the gods and followers of either will be disappointed in the lampoonish nature they are portrayed. Odin, though said to be one of the main subjects in the book, isn't. He rarely appears in the book save for his story about getting the mead and Mimir's well. We don't get a full grasp of the ruthlessness of Odin in the pursuit of victory.

This book, while enjoyable, was not much different than "the Children of Odin". I'd recommend them both for one not familiar with the subject. But these are, again, introductory stories to tell around a fire. They are something you can tell your kids while you are camping. But they are missing depth and that diamond of serious study. I would not expect to see this in any classroom above high school. Certainly not at college level.


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