Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


Title: Norse Mythology
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Short Story, Fantasy
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people.

Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again. (Goodreads)


I picked this book up immediately after I saw Thor: Ragnarok because I left the theater in the mood for everything and anything related to Norse mythology. Norse Mythology was not what I expected at all. I expected a narrative and plot, but this was a collection of short stories that I really ended up enjoying. Some of the stories were interesting and some weren’t. Very similar to the movies, Loki was the most intriguing and complex character in this world. He was witty, clever, and cunning. The stories with Thor as the main character didn’t stand out quite as much as the ones that involved lesser known Norse gods.

Some of my favorite myths in this book were: The Treasures of The Gods, The Children of Loki, Freya’s Unusual Wedding, Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants, and the Death of Balder. I liked that Gaiman introduced the major players in Norse myth and provided background on Thor and Odin. Prior to reading this book, I didn’t have much interest in Odin’s background; however, this book made me want more. I am not familiar with original Norse mythology, but I loved that even though Freya operated in a patriarchal and misogynist world, she had agency and was empowering. I don’t know how much of that was Neil Gaiman or how much of that was part of the original myths. Either way, I loved it.

I loved that a glossary was included the back because there were so many characters, places, and names that I was unfamiliar with. Overall, I enjoyed Norse Mythology tremendously and would like to see a narrative format about Freya and the other lesser-known gods of Asgard.

Have you read Norse Mythology? If so, what are you thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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