Many cultures developed their own pantheons and mythologies to explain the world around them. Stories of mighty gods and capricious forces at work, monstrous villains and magical items that altered the landscape. At first glance, Norse mythology is no different…until it falls into the hands of a proper storyteller.
Norse Mythology picks and chooses narratives from the epic tapestry of Odin, Loki, Thor, Freya, and more, weaving together overlapping tales that all feel like pieces of something grander. Some of those pieces are funny, riotously so, while others are classic trickster tales (as you’d expect, with Loki about), while still others are heartfelt and disturbing in equal measure.
But unlike many myths, these stories feel like steps, the slow build of a narrative arc that rises and rises, cultivating a sense of inevitability as you hurtle toward the climax — Ragnarok. Gaiman carefully shepherds the reader along this path through his choice of tales, practicing a fair amount of restraint while allowing the stories themselves to shine. (This is a wonderful change of pace for Gaiman, whose last few efforts have felt a bit heavyhanded.)
Norse Mythology evokes the feeling of whimsical stories told at a grandfather’s knee. This is wonderful stuff.