In Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman takes readers to the worlds of Asgard, Midgard, and Jotunheim. It’s a fun romp with gods, giants, and dwarves. If you’ve watched the recent Marvel Comics movies, you’re familiar with the names Odin, Thor, and Loki. And Freya’s name has also been used by many an author and screenwriter.
But have you heard of Balder, Odin’s son and “The Beautiful.” Or Idunn, the goddess and keeper of the apples of immortality? Gaiman introduces many characters from the Scandinavian and Icelandic legends. He draws from the Edda, both Prose and Poetic, which were written in the Middle Ages. I, for one, am glad to read the stories in modern rather than Middle English.
Gaiman explains in his notes that Edda means “great grandmother” in Old Norse. And these tales seem like the kind of stories an ancient grandmother creates to entertain her young charges on a winter’s night. Remember that Scandinavia has some very long winters with very long nights. A grandchild or three have certainly giggled with delight or gasped in horror when listening. Just like I might have done.
Some of these tales connected directly with mythologies created in other fantasy novels. For example, there were some references to times of fire and times of ice. Naturally, I thought of George R.R. Martin. Since Gaiman took the original source and then wrote these tales, it’s interesting that he makes such a direct connection to another author. I assume that’s because they both drew from the same original mythology source, although I can’t be sure.
I listened to the audiobook with the author narrating. His voice is melodious, and he tells a story with all the right inflections and drama. However, I was glad to have the Kindle version for reference. All the people names are unique, plus the Norse named their swords, cooking pots, and just about everything else. The ebook helped me see the correct spellings. Plus, it had Gaiman’s interesting notes at the end. I’d recommend reading either or both versions!