Norse mythology

Neil Gaiman

Book - 2017

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he presents his fashioning of the primeval Norse myths into a novel, which 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 recreating the characters--the gods with their fiercely co...mpetitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendencey to let passion ignite their actions--and making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.--

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Subjects
Genres
Myths
Published
New York : W.W. Norton & Company [2017]
Edition
First Edition
Language
English
Physical Description
299 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780393609097
039360909X
Main Author
Neil Gaiman (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Gaiman yields to no one else writing modern-day-set dark fantasy in his use of classic mythologies, not just European but even West African Caribbean in the waggish, wonderful Anansi Boys (2005). His favorite body of myths is—and those who've read enough of him don't need him to tell them so—the Norse batch, the matter of Odin and Thor and Loki, of Valhalla and Midgard and Hel, of giants and (J. R. R. Tolkien's favorites) elves and dwarfs. It's fairly unsurprising, then, that he'd want to tell northwestern Europe's grandest old stories in his own idiom. Nor, really, is it surprising that he does a bang-up job of it. His simple, Anglo-Saxon-canted diction, which in his original fiction sometimes gets a little pinched and dry-throated, couldn't sound better to modern ears used to the clipped, the droll, the laconic that a century of hard-boiled literary patter has made normal. All common English speakers should easily hear this prose in their own voices (though they should also hear it in Gaiman's reading of the audiobook). From nothing, the counter-biblical original condition of Norse cosmology, to the total destruction of Ragnarok and a glimpse beyond it, Gaiman's retelling of these ever-striking and strange stories should be every reader's first book of Norse mythology. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Gaiman's immense audience and all lovers of myths and the classic fantasy novels they inspire will be seeking this key volume. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Fantasy phenomenon Gaiman, who draws on the tales of the North Germanic people in his work, now combines them into a single novelistic arc. See also Carolyne Larrington's heavily illustrated The Norse Myths: A Guide to Viking and Scandinavian Gods and Heroes (Thames & Hudson. 208p. ISBN 9780500251966. $24.95), also in February.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In his fiction, Gaiman (American Gods; Sandman) frequently explores the themes and tropes of mythology from around the world. Here, he operates within narrower confines, retelling the classic stories of Norse mythology but with no less humor, sense of adventure, and imagination than when he's playing in worlds of his own making. Here the adventures and misadventures of the Norse gods and goddesses function as short stories that, together, build an arc that leads the reader onward to Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods. Giants, ogres, dwarves, fantastical beasts, and the occasional human freely mingle with Thor, Odin, Loki, Freya, and other, less well-known gods and goddesses, all of whom are passionate, flawed, weird, and divinely entertaining. VERDICT A spectacularly entertaining and elucidating collection of stories with wide crossover appeal. Essential for all collections.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Having already appropriated Odin and Loki for his novel American Gods, Gaiman turns his restless imagination to a retelling of Norse folklore (a youthful interest of his). He begins by introducing us to the three main mythological figures: Odin, the highest and oldest of the gods; his son, Thor, who makes up in brawn what he lacks in brains; and Loki, offspring of giants and a wily trickster. In a series of stories, we learn how Thor acquired his famous hammer, Mjollnir, how Odin tricked a giant into building a wall around Asgard, the home of the gods, how Loki helped Thor retrieve his hammer from the ogre that had stolen it, and how a visit to the land of the giants resulted in the humbling of Thor and Loki. In most of the stories, a consistent dynamic rules as one god tries to get something over on another god, but novelist that he is, Gaiman also provides a dramatic continuity to these stories that takes us from the birth of the gods to their blood-soaked twilight. Employing dialogue that is anachronistically current in nature, Gaiman has great fun in bringing these gods down to a human level. Like John Gardner in Grendel, a classic retelling of Beowulf, and Philip Pullman in his rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen stories, Gaiman takes a well-worn subject and makes it his own. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The New York Times best-selling author of A View From the Cheap Seats presents a bravura rendering of the major Norse pantheon that traces the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and the exploits of its characters, illuminating the characters and natures of iconic figures Odin, Thor and Loki.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Presents a rendering of the major Norse pantheon that traces the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and the exploits of its characters, illuminating the characters and natures of iconic figures Odin, Thor, and Loki.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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 stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.Norse MythologyGaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Introducing an instant classic—master storytellerNeil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of thegreat Norse myths.