Book Review – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

After enjoying both The Twisted Tree and The Crooked Mask by Rachel Burge, I wanted to know some more about Norse mythology. As I mentioned in my review, the second book delves far more into the mythological side of things than The Twisted Tree, and it made me curious. Before these books, I must admit that most of what I’ve gathered of Norse myths is rooted in my reading and watching of Marvel. But that’s probably not the best of ways to gain more than the odd fact. My husband pointed out to me that he only knows that name of the Egyptian god of the moon because of a Marvel storyline…. but that was just to irritate me, I think.

I’d also decided that I wanted to read more audiobooks this year, and placing the two together gives us the perfect conclusion that is Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. Narrated by the author, it is an engaging collection of the Norse stories, told with enthusiasm and energy. Having read other mythologies over the years, I know how biased these tales can be, in that every translation is open to interpretation, and every retelling is open to more. So it takes a clever author to puts together an engaging collection of stories that have been told thousands of times before, even if they haven’t been told to the same one person that many times.

In this collection, Gaiman manages to turn his wry nature and the natural wit that underlines so many of the stories to make a wonderful listen that is as educating as it is relaxing. Many of these myths are doing what myths have always done, and searching for explanations to questions that have bothered peoples. Finding out these little answers are always things that make me smile, and I gather little nuggets of international historical facts-as-taught-by-myths that, honestly, they just really make me smile.

One of the things these retellings do manage to do is skirt around some of the somewhat more dodgy aspects of ancient myths, and finding the humour in what could otherwise be uncomfortable listening, which is a clever way of approaching difficult subject matters. I was certainly grateful for the playful attitude as it did make it more relaxing to listen to than some other mythological tales I’ve read over the years.

This was my third finished book of the year, and I really enjoyed listening to it. I’d really recommend it to anyone who has any interest in Norse mythology, or is just a bit curious about learning more about something new. There’s also a comic book series that started being released at the end of last year that is an adaption of the book, and may be another really good way of accessing these stories.

3 Comments

  1. I have read Stardust and The Graveyard book by Gaiman and both of them left me quite underwhelmed. People say such good things about this one but I’ve not been able to bring myself to get it so far.

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  2. I do know quite a lot about the Norse myths (I was VERY annoying when watching the Marvel films!!) and this is a really good re-telling of them. I’d love to do the audio book actually – should recommend it to my husband!

    Liked by 1 person

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