Top positive review
Great Story Telling and Fabulous For Reading Out Loud!
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2017
This is genuine storytelling in the oral tradition. It is deliberately written as if you were listening to a grandmother telling the tale around the fire. Picture her waving her arms and leaning forward to emphasize a point, her voice going gutteral and silken interchangeably as she voices a giant or the Trickster Loki.
A prime example is the story of how poetry was born. "It is a long story, and it does no credit to anyone: there is murder in it, and trickery, lies and foolishness, seduction and pursuit. Listen.
It began not long after the dawn of time, in a war between the gods: the Aesir fought the Vanir. The Aesir were warlike gods of battle and conquest; the Vanir were softer, brother and sister gods and goddesses who made the soils fertile and the plants grow, but none the less powerful for that."
It is a great story, with a perfect comedic last line.
I had this idea that Norse mythology was dire and bleak. A mythology that ends with Ragnorök, the death of the gods and the end of the world doesn't sound entertaining. I couldn't be more wrong. For one thing, Ragnorök is the end of one cycle of the world. Like Wagner's Ring, the world will start over again, just as it once did to usher in the time of the gods.
I have read other books by Neil Gaiman, and so far, this is my favorite. I thought the writing exceptionally evocative. Obviously, Gaiman had some amazing original material to work with, but this was great fun to read. It brings fabulous images to mind, such as this from "Hymir and Thor's Fishing Expedition": "The grandmother with nine hundred heads killed each ox, skinned it, and tossed it into her enormous cooking pot. The pot boiled and bubbled over a fire which hissed and spat, and she stirred it with a spoon as big as an oak tree. She sang quietly to herself as she cooked, in a voice like a thousand old women all singing at the tops of their voices at once."
I usually buy paperbacks, but I got "Norse Mythology" in hardback, because the cover of the hardback is beautiful. The details of Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, are raised and the hammer glimmers. The story of why Thor's hammer is short-handled is included in this collection. Most of the depictions of the hammer in Viking jewelry and carvings show the handle even shorter than on the book cover.
5 stars and a book to re-read with great pleasure!