Norse Mythology was a book I had on my radar the minute I heard about it. I’m extremely interested in all things mythology and history, as you should know by now, and Norse mythology has interested me since I was a teenager.
Greek and Roman myth are shoved down our throats time after time, but Norse myth has sort of taken a step back from stories and movies, until Thor became popular in the MCU.
I would argue that Marvel is one of the biggest reasons Norse myth and stories are still alive. Scholars and academics have been fascinated with them for a long time, but a big reason we don’t get to learn these stories as much as Greek or Roman is because there isn’t much to learn.
Not a lot of the stories and poems survived the test of time, which is unfortunate to those who want to know more.
Gaiman, in my opinion, does a wonderful job of taking these stories, written hundreds of years ago in a language few of us can understand, and turned them into something that modern audiences can enjoy.
I’d read one other book by Gaiman before this, but as most of us probably have heard, his reputation as an outstanding author precedes him.
Not only were the stories funny, interesting, and informative, I thought they were very thought provoking because they told the story in a way that allowed me to understand how some of these stories would have come about.
Most mythology books are a bit tough to get through, at best. If they’re written well, they are written as a story that is easy to follow, and not as a historical retelling.
At worst, they’re basically a translation from ancient Greek/Latin that put you to sleep more than they entertain you.
Norse Mythology was the best myth-related book I’ve read because it was like reading a bunch of short stories that really didn’t overlap at all, other than the characters involved.
If you know any of Norse myth stories, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in this book, along with all your favourite, or least favourite characters.
Thor, Loki, Odin, Baldur, Freya, they’re all there and more. You’ll learn about some gods you’ve never heard of, and even get to read about how a baby killed a blind man, and I’m not joking.
There are two things about Norse Mythology that I found kind of funny and that are also commonplace with most stories involving a “god” of some kind.
The first is that gods are assholes. No need for anything but being blunt, they’re assholes, and to them it’s always normal.
Bet a man he can’t build a wall in a month? Kill him because he is close to doing it. Jealous of Thor’s wife? Rip out her hair. Guy doesn’t want you coming into his home and drinking his mead? Kill him.
There are very few actual “good” gods in mythology. Yes some come across as good and all, but when it comes down to it, they’re usually assholes, and I kinda love it. I love that they are so clearly seeing themselves above everyone else.
The second thing that I love about a lot of mythological stories of gods is how “smart” they are.
Gods are so clever. They can outsmart any mere mortal. Except most of the time, they really aren’t that smart. Most of their problems they just solve by making themselves look like something else, or smashing them with a really big hammer.
Now to me, that doesn’t really seem that clever, but I like how the world and the gods think it is.
There’s one more thing I wanted to mention about Norse Mythology, and that’s how quickly I got through it.
Being used to taking a month or so to finish an 800 ish page fantasy book, I found that I flew through Norse Mythology extremely fast.
I started it on a Monday morning and had it done by Saturday afternoon, and most of the reading was done on the 20ish minute bus ride to and from work each day.
It wasn’t that the book was that short even, more so that it was that easy to read, which I think is a compliment to Gaiman’s abilities to write a book based off of established stories.