It should come as no surprise whatsoever that Neil Gaiman’s latest, Norse Mythology, delivers exactly what the front cover promises: Neil Gaiman retelling Norse Myths. Starting at the very beginning with the creation myth, he leads us through the gods’ exploits to Ragnarök, the very end of all things. As with anything Gaiman touches, it is intensely readable, and funny, and touching and you know the drill.
My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty basic, and is mostly picked up from other novels, like Gaiman’s own American Gods and Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, a Dutch translation of issue 200 of The Mighty Thor about Ragnarok, and an occasional song by some metal band here and there.
Quite quickly, I came to the realization that these stories had little to do with what I thought to know about Norse myths. To my surprise, the mighty Thor was nowhere near the blonde god (the trailers for) those Marvel movies make him out to be: in fact, he came across as a bit of a doofus. I’ve seen several different depictions of Odin, and again, this one was nothing like those as well.
And with all my prior knowledge out of the window, it was all about the stories themselves. What you’re left with then, are the tales of imperfect, fallible gods, who are not per se people you’d look up too, people who take delight in tricking each other, aren’t all that concerned with the collateral damage they cause, and are more human than most of their non-Nordic counterparts.
- Book read
- Neil Gaiman — Norse Mythology
- First line
- Before the beginning there was nothing—no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.