When it was announced that Neil Gaiman was doing a book of Norse myths, I was, not to put to fine a point on it, giddy with excitement. I’ve always been a mythology fangirl. I love the Greek and Roman myths, the Egyptians, but as I am Scandinavian, the Norse myths are obviously among the ones I grew up reading, even as a young child. I had several books of the Danish comic book Valhalla, so I knew several of the stories before I even knew they were the ancient myths of my people.
In the introduction to this book, Neil Gaiman says that his first encounter with the Norse gods were through the works of Jack Kirby in the Marvel universe. Mr. Gaiman has of course featured several members of the Norse pantheon in several of his own works, like the epic Sandman series or his very popular American Gods. He also says that the Norse myths are probably the ones that we know the least about and where many of the stories have gotten lost, as no one felt they were worth keeping alive. I appreciate him commenting on the fact that the goddesses of Norse mythology have gotten the shortest shrift of all. There are not all that many stories that survive about the Norse gods at all, and history being what it is, clearly no one felt that the goddesses were all that important (except of course that everyone seems to want to marry Freya – she is clearly the greatest prize to be won).
I got the audio book, because Neil Gaiman’s a wonderful narrator whose voice I find incredibly soothing. Having him tell me the myths of my people, vaguely fictionalised to work better as stories was lovely, and I kept forcing myself to stop between stories, as I didn’t want the book to end. While I was familiar with a lot of these tales from my childhood and mythology obsessed teenage years, there were also stories I hadn’t heard or read before. The one where Loki steals the hair of the Lady Sif, Thor’s wife, and has to figure out a clever way to replace it, ending up with the Norse gods getting possession of their greatest treasures, while Loki nearly loses his head in the bargain was a new one. As was the one about Kvasir and the mead of poetry.
Full review here.