Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales, and some of us do not?
It is a long story, and it does no credit to anyone: there is murder in it, and trickery, lies, foolishness seduction and pursuit. Listen.
No, do not listen. Read. Read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and you will learn the answers to these questions. You will learn about the Aesir and the Vanir, about giants and dwarves and elves. Names like Odin, Loki, and Thor, familiar to most of us, fill the pages of Mr. Gaiman’s latest book. Odin, the all-father and leader of the Aesir; Thor, god of thunder and son of Odin; and last, but not least, Loki, god of mischief.
How many of us really know about the gods of Asgard, the giants of Jötunheim and the light elves of Alfheim, aside from the Marvel films and comics? I, for one, knew very little because I was more enamored with the gods of Rome and Greece. As a kid, I read the comics, but I was more into Loki than Thor or Odin (the same with the films). But I knew nothing about Vanaheim, Hel, or Ragnarok. Especially Ragnarok. But now I do, and, thanks to Mr. Gaiman’s mastery as a storyteller, I want to know more and more.
Mr. Gaiman, a lover of Norse mythology himself, took the stories of the often temperamental gods and turned them into novel form, creating an immersive work that would make even the most seasoned Norse historian feel like he or she is discovering these tales for the first time. Stories like the creation of the gods, Thor’s hammer Mjollnir, how he came to acquire it and why so many bad things happened because of it, the long-standing feud between Asgard and the Frost Giants, and three of Loki’s children, Hel, Fenrir Wolf and the world serpent, Jörmungandr. Yes, you read that right. The world serpent.
I borrowed Norse Mythology from my local library, as the library is one of my favorite places to visit (shameless plug: support your local library). If I come across a book that I know I will read more than once, I usually go to my local bookstore to purchase and add it to my personal library (shameless plug: support your local bookstore). Add Norse Mythology to that growing list of books I’ve purchased, sitting alongside some of Mr. Gaiman’s other works. And you should do the same. I highly recommend it.
Norse Mythology is published by W.W. Norton & Company and available where all books are sold and at your local library.