Engaging, modern retelling of the Norse myths.
I massively enjoyed Norse Mythology. Neil Gaiman gently eases you into this rich pantheon of Norse madness, but with his usual flair, coupled with his ability to tell a story that simply resonates. It’s approachable and made engaging and accessible, and perfect to newbies to the world of the Norse Gods .
Gaiman has largely selected the 'best bits' from the Norse tales (and why not?). We have the beginning with the Norse creation myth and the climatic ending with Ragnarok, the immense battle between the gods and their enemies to end the mythical cycle. In between we get all the glorious best bits plucked from the Prose Edda. It’s fun, tragic and compelling all at the same time.
The chapters are sometimes short and snappy, sometimes a little longer, but they never drag. There is no lull in pace as the action and intrigue is on every page and imbued with Gaiman’s very natural humour and charm. It’s a perfect novel to dip in and dip out of and read at ones leisure. But you won’t want to though; with Gaiman’s natural care and dreamy story telling applied, it’s a total page turner and can be read it one delicious sitting.
Unsurprisingly for a book so rich with characters it is massively character-driven, and there are not many characters bigger than Thor and Loki. It is obvious that he enjoys writing about his favourites and Thor and Loki dominate the book - and so they should. The supporting cast are tremendous and everyone will have their favourite.
There is some criticism that this is just a simplistic rehash of well known Norse tales. In some ways it is, but told in a style that reinvigorates it for the modern reader. If you want a more in-depth, slower paced tome, off you go, there’s plenty out there. For me, it was perfect. After reading the book I read it aloud to my 8 year old who always wanted 'one more page, Daddy?' He laughed so much at the behaviour of Thor. What about Loki and the goat? Hilarious. Cracking good job Neil Gaiman.
Big 5 stars from me.