I’m not even going to pretend that I was well-versed with Norse mythology before reading this. Sure, I have heard of Odin, Thor, and Loki. I’ve also read series that pay major homage, and I’ve listened to this song, I mean, a lot:
But I probably could not recite the basic story of 99% of what was in this book, before reading this book. The hierarchy of “Mythology People Have Heard of” has got to be the Greeks and Romans at the top, right? That’s already more than enough for my pea brain, as a casual consumer of such things.
Honestly, I didn’t even really know what this book was going to be like when I decided to read it. I just started seeing reviews from people who liked it, and I saw the name “Neil Gaiman,” and I thought, “Well, why not.” Henceforth, for no good reason, I assumed this was going to be kind of a story based on Norse Mythology that wasn’t actually the myths themselves. Like the show Vikings maybe? Sigh, don’t worry about it; I don’t know anything and this review is useless.
But here we are. Neil Gaiman, an author I like very much, has written a quite short, easily digestible volume that gets neatly to the essence of some of the more popular myths and parables. He definitely sticks to his own writing style and rhythm, which particularly comes off matter-of-factly witty, here. It works especially well in (the oft-quoted) moments where Thor plainly incriminates Loki in whatever misdeed has recently been misdone: “…when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”
Beyond responding just as well as I usually do to Gaiman’s style, this book is really quite the perfect primer for the Norse myths. It’s by no means comprehensive, but I actually think I’m going to have a worthwhile frame of understanding when I go see Thor: Ragnarok. So there’s that. Scandis: you have some awesome, terrible gods and a lovely collection of stories, and thank you to Neil Gaiman for finally motivating me to educate myself.