Book Review

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythology by neil gaimanRating: 5/5 owl hoots

Published: February 7 2017

Number of pages: 283

Format: hardcover

Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company

Genre: fantasy, retellng, mystery, romance,  comedy

Audience: older adult

Get it at: Chapters Indigo

Shelve it at: Goodreads


Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology and here, he stays true to the myths on envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin the All-Father, wise, daring and father to Thor, incredibly strong but not the wisest of gods. Loki, son of the giant and blood brother to Odin and a trickster and manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the legend of the nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman to steal it back. But can he succeed without his beard and immense appetite to give him away? More poignant is the tale of Kvasir in which his blood is turned into mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s witty prose emerge these gods with their fierce competitive natures and their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making theses ancient myths breathe life again.

My Review:

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors sitting close to Victoria Schwab. Never have I ever been disappointed by any of his books, well there are some of his short stories that didn’t appeal to me but his novels did. So when Neil Gaiman comes out with a new book based on mythology, I immediately buy it. As a fan of Norse mythology (myself included) it didn’t surprise me that he decided to come out with this collection; he did write American Gods (now turned into a TV series) and is still one of the most weird and bizarre story I’ve read.

But here’s the problem, how do you write a review for his new book that you love so much and have praised the author countless times with his storytelling abilities without sounding like a broken record? I could say that Norse Mythology is one of my favourite book of the year and that his collection of short stories about the great Norse gods were amazing, original, and for some of them laugh out loud funny. But I feel like I’ve said those words before and none of the these words give justice to how wonderful this is. This is why I’m frustrated for writing a review because any comments I say might have been said already, so I’m going to do my very best not to sound too repetitive, or you could stop reading this review and just buy, borrow, download, and read for your pleasure. Because guys, this book is fucking amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

So as I was reading this I had to keep reminding myself that none of these stories are the real Norse myths; these are a reedition of those stories adding his own wit and humour into them. But here’s another problem: the way he wrote these stories and the characters themselves seemed so original that it felt like I was reading the origin stories! He does a damn good job of staying true to the myths and reimagining the Norse pantheon while introducing the players of the game. Odin, king of all gods and father to Thor, the legendary god of thunder who wields the almighty hammer and is widely known for his short temper and strength. Then there is Loki, son of a giant and a trickster who prides himself in his cleverness and magic. These characters are the big players that lay the foundation of this world with giants and dwarfs who learn to coexist but that doesn’t mean they have to like each other. Even the gods are competitive to outwit each other but no one does it better than Loki. Loki is a very complex character because he plays by his own rules and whatever he lacks he makes up for with his cunning ability to trick and deceive others into doing his bidding. As much as I hate him for his crimes there were times when Loki has proved to be very helpful for getting the gods out of tight situations.

There was not one story that I didn’t enjoy better than the rest. But if I did have to choose just one it would be The Mead of Poets which had the best fart jokes I’ve read! I really didn’t expect that ending how one tells from a bad poet and a good poet; it is indelicate and shameful but too funny. Speaking of shame, Loki has had to undergo plenty of public humiliation that it was hard not to feel bad for him. On one hand, he deserves it for tricking the gods to get what he wants, but on the other, the gods underestimate his prowess and manipulation. Loki even manages to survive up to the Ragnorok, the end of everything only to have won the battle but not the war. I enjoyed every single one of these stories. I felt like there was a moral lesson to be learned but more then that, reading each story was a pure enjoyment and I loved how Gaiman adds his own interpretation of the characters making them much more interesting.

You don’t need a background in Norse mythology before reading this either; I didn’t and I thought it was informative and a fun read, addictive too. Neil Gaiman continues to impress us with his reedition of the Norse pantheon but if he ever came out with a collection of say Egyptian and Greek myths, my life would be complete!


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