Norse Mythology

Write on: Fri, 05 Jan 2018 by  in Kat's Reviews 1 comment Read 2297

Genre: Mythology, Fantasy, Short Stories

Rating: 4/5 stars

In the beginning, there was nothing but mist and flames.

At least, that's what the Edda claims.

I've always been fascinated with Norse Mythology (and with everything ancient in general). With its strong impact on Marvel's movies, metal music and J.R.R. Tolkien, the AllFather of high fantasy, references to the mighty Gods of Asgard, and the impending twilight thereof, are a part of daily life. Neil Gaiman did not invent a story from the start. He had the material, the facts, the descriptions ready. Yet Norse Mythology is the stellar proof of his tremendous talent and ingenuity, because like a new Odin, he instilled breath in myths existing for thousands of years, he commanded to life frost giants, demons, dwarfs, elves, Æsir and Vanir alike, and crafted a marvelous collection of stories, ideal to read them in a cold winter's night, next to a grinding fire, holding a cup of warm content, while your mind travels in wild landscapes and flies in the form of a raven, spying the creation of the world and its destruction, only to be reborn again. For in Norse Mythology, it is obvious that rebirth always follows death.

“Behind the depth, before the height

Surrounded by the serpent Jörmundgand

World of man in the middle

Of heat and ice built by the Ymer brow”

One of the most astonishing things you realise while reading Norse Mythology, is that human minds work in a similar manner all over the world. You can't help but notice the similarities with other mythologies, the traditions of people who thrived miles away. Take the creation of the Nine Worlds for example: there was a flood, one created by Ymer's blood, that destroyed all life only to start it anew. You will notice the same pattern in Greek Mythology, with Deucalion and Pyrrha, in Genesis, with Noah's ark, and many other cultures, like the Aboriginal tribes and the Mayas. You will also discover the origins of the Middle Earth's creation, and the races inhabiting it, and you'll marvel at the parallels between Gjallerhorn, which will be blown by Heimdall at the end of all things to wake the Gods, and the Horn of Valere which will summon the Heroes to battle in Tarmon Gai'don, the Final Battle, in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. It's chilling, and strangely satisfying.

Odin, Thor and Loki are the main dramatis personae, followed by Freyr and Freya, Baldr and Týr. Through Neil Gaiman's eyes, his witty narration infused with humour, subtle comments and foreboding, you witness Odin's quest for wisdom, and the price he had to pay to acquire it; you will find out how Loki made Sif go bald, and thus the greatest treasures came to the possesion of the Gods; you will follow a strange man's efforts to create the walls of Asgard, demanding to be paid with the sun, the moon and beautiful Freya.


Blue her eyes

Gold of hair

A maiden so fair”

You will shiver before the children of Loki, the serpent of Midgard, the lady of the realm of the Dead, and wolf Fenrir, the demise of the Gods.

“I watched as he shouted

To the giants who died that day

He held up his hammer high

And called to Odin for a sign”

You will laugh at Thor's disguise in order to take back Mjolnir, and taste the heavenly mead of Poetry and Widsom, which was made of blood; you'll visit the land of the giants alongside Thor and Loki and you'll be tricked by illusions; you'll search for the apples of Iðunn which grant eternal youth (apples of Hesperides anyone?) after the Gods lost them thanks to Loki; you'll see Freyr finding his missing part; you will steal the cauldron that brews the greatest beer; and you will mourn the death of the Sun.

“Honour your brother's name, unarmed or blind

Let me aid you in your aim, don't stay behind 

Let's maim immortality and death to a deity”

You will find out how the first fishing net was created and why, and finally, you will freeze in the Coldest Winter, the prelude to the extinction of mankind, and the Twilight of the Gods.



See the earth go up in flames


The great serpent writhes in rage

The doom of gods now hath come

The fall of the sun

The gates of Hel devour the dead

At the twilight of the gods”

Neil Gaiman's pantheon is ruled by the same passions, desires and ambitions with the mortals. His Gods are naive and cruel, spontaneous and bloodthirsty; Thor is not particularly bright (nor as hot as Chris Hemsworth), and Loki is a spiteful creature, a puppeteer, a troublemaker and by the end, you'll crave his suffering.

“Asgard's always been my home

But I'm of different blood

I will overthrow the throne


Deceiver of the gods!”

Norse Mythology may not be original in its content, but it is innovative and deeply inspiring in its prose, and the blessed talent of the hand that wrote it. It is a quick and relaxing read I highly recommend if you're searching for your next epic adventure!

“Thor! Odin's son

Protector of mankind

Ride to meet your fate

Your destiny awaits”

Playlist (in order of lyrics' appearance)

Midgard - Therion

Frøya's Theme - Leave's Eyes

Thor - Manowar

Brother's Bane - Týr

Ragnarök - Stormwarrior

Deceiver of the Gods - Amon Amarth

Twilight of the Thunder God - Sabaton (Amon Amarth cover)

Last modified on Friday, 05 January 2018 08:27

There are two things Katerina can't live without; books and chocolate. And since she needs money to acquire them, she decided to become a lawyer (and she still wonders whether this was a good idea). When she's not reading, she keeps wishing she was reading, about wars, wizards, dark princes and great romances. Her favorite genres are Fantasy (both YA and Adult) and Contemporary Romance.

1 comment

  • [email protected] commented on Feb 22, 2019 Comment Link

    I have seen this book floating around a few times and I've always walked past it, I think I was afraid it would feel a little bit text-booky. But your review has convinced me otherwise and I'm excited to buy this book next time I'm at the store.
    Thanks for the great review!

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