Neil Gaiman gathers together tales from Norse mythology and tells them in a way that makes sense to him. He attempts to pull together a cohesive narrative from what few myths have survived which is not many. All of the standards are here: the creation of the nine realms and the World Tree, Loki’s children, Thor’s visit with Hymir, Balder’s death, and Ragnarok. There are a few myths included that I had not read before such as The Mead of the Poets and Freya’s Unusual Wedding. All together, this collection of myths at the very least is entertaining as any story of impressive feats and devilish tricks would be. I am not sure how successful Gaiman is at either weaving anything cohesive together or updating and revitalizing any of the stories.
The overall narration and dialogue in Gaiman’s retelling is lacking. Everything is so very simple: descriptions of people, of events, and of conversations. Gaiman woodenly jumps from one description to the next or from one line of dialogue to the next without any flow. I’ve read elsewhere that one theory is that Thor himself is the narrator which explains the simple point of view. This would be interesting if there was any indication that this were true. This could have been one way that Gaiman breathes new life into the stories and would add an interesting layer of an untrustworthy narrator. However as it stands, this feels like an excuse.
Gaiman, in his introduction, laments the loss of so many myths to time and appropriation. He states that he cannot tell the myths of these lost gods and their stories. And that is true. He cannot tell the myths that were once told, but what is there to stop him from creating them? Gaiman has clearly done his research and understands the context in which these myths were created. Why not create a few stories (with a disclaimer that they are his own creation and not myths of history) of the gods and goddesses who were lost? That would have been interesting.
BINGO – READER’S CHOICE – MUSIC