Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


As I mentioned in my Ocean at the End of the Lane review, I am a fan of Neil Gaiman. The man is a fine writer, and creative beyond most authors currently writing. Tackling the Norse myths seemed like a match made in heaven for him.

This was a fun book to read. I enjoyed the entire thing, and especially appreciated the way he told the tales of old with new language. Don’t expect him to use modern slang or euphemisms; Gaiman is solidly in the old ways in this story.

I think that’s what I love and hate about it.

There’s a lot that just felt like a direct translation of old tales. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it sort of stands out when Loki tells Thor to “shut up” twice in a row. Also I felt like we never truly understood Loki’s motivations, but that seems to be the fault of the source material rather than any fault of Gaiman’s.

Honestly, I would recommend this version to anyone unfamiliar with the old tales. It’s a perfect introduction to Loki, Thor, Odin, Baldur, Frey, and the others. I think it should be used in middle school to introduce these old stories. There isn’t much in the tales that could be too obscene (apart from a mention of Loki’s privates being tied to a rope).

I think he’s done a great job, but would have liked a little more of the environment present; maybe more that is distinctly Scandinavian? The salty scent of the sea, or the coastal cut of the fjord? I’m not sure.

I don’t give grades in my review, but I expect that Gaiman’s stories in this book will be recognized for the skill they were crafted with. This is definitely a book worth picking up.

If you liked this review check out some of my others:

Book Review: Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin

Book Review: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Or maybe you’d like some of my posts about writing?

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Write What You Like

Please make sure to follow me on Twitter: @FrankOrmond

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

  1. “Honestly, I would recommend this version to anyone unfamiliar with the old tales. It’s a perfect introduction to Loki, Thor, Odin, Baldur, Frey, and the others.” I wholeheartedly agree; this isn’t the last word in books about Norse mythology but it is definitely a great place to start and build a foundation for people who might be intimidated by all of the scholarly works and poetics. Not Gaiman’s best work but a wonderful entry into the collective body of work about Norse myths; great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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