Title: Norse Mythology.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman.
Narrator(s): Neil Gaiman.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling.
Release Date: February 7th, 2017.
Length: 6 Hours and 29 Minute.
My Overall Rating:
Mythologies give us a framework to understand the origin of the world, the fundamental lessons of life, or the faith of humanity. Through these narratives centered around gods, we find our place, our purpose, and our passion as common mortals at the mercy of stronger forces in the grand scheme of things. Norse mythology is one of those foundational bodies of myths that have shaped countless tales of fiction and influenced mankind’s understanding of their greatest vices and virtues. Albeit partially lost and forgotten with time, writer Neil Gaiman, author of countless tales likened to beloved mythologies, retells some of these great northern tales in an effort to capture his love for this influential material and allow his readers to indulge these myths in all of their splendid candor and gentle savagery.
What is Norse Mythology about? This ancient Norse mythology collection presents readers with a curated selection of long-ago tales from the genesis of the legendary nine worlds to the arrival of the twilight of gods and the beginning of a New Age. It mostly puts forth in front and center Odin, the god of gods, his son Thor, a powerful yet naive deity, and Loki, the son of a giant and the greatest tricker of all time. Through these stories, author Neil Gaiman highlights the cunningness, ruthlessness, and silliness of gods, while depicting a complex and rich world filled with dwarves and giants, ploys and pleasantries, and powerful items that should not fall into the hands of mischievous beings.
“Of course it was Loki. It’s always Loki.”— Neil Gaiman
Eloquently narrated by the author himself, the stories are written in a wonderfully accessible style, superficially simple yet frighteningly vivid. Strategically and naturally ordered in a fashion that captures a certain chronology to the unfolding of these other-worldly events, he also depicts this world with plentiful detail, never indulging in over-exposition and losing his readers in the nitty-gritty. With each story, the world is further expanded, showing the strangely treacherous ecosystem in which revels gods, frost giants, and talking creatures. Through his warm and welcoming writing style, he also highlights some iconic items and their origins, giving readers an opportunity to understand the power they behold but also the raison d’être of these divine objects in the exploits of these gods.
Where author Neil Gaiman’s writing skills further contribute to the quality of this retelling is through his depiction of these characters, taking the time to give some of the lesser-known figures more leeway to leave a lasting impression on the reader. However, his portrayal of traditional gods as well as their candid interactions with one another, often accompanied by dry humour revives a much more authentic facet in these godly entities, at times ridiculous, and others, truly bleak and callous, clashing with popular beliefs. While stories like the marriage implicating Thor do quickly lighten up the atmosphere and establish a brief moment of fun and entertainment, later stories dive headfirst into sordid and cold-blooded stories where passion triumphs over reason. Nonetheless, author Neil Gaiman does a lavish job in capturing a convincing vision of the Norse pantheon, their love for competitions and dupery, and their reckless nature with inevitable consequences.
Norse Mythology is a masterfully crafted yet partial retelling of a foundational body of myths that explores a mischievous, whimsical, and capricious realm of gods until the beginning of the end.