Norse Mythology is the most recent book by Neil Gaiman, published February 7, 2017. The book is a compilation of short Norse tales that chronicle some of the events in the Norse mythology. Gaiman bases the stories on various songs and other collections that is explained in detail in the foreword by the author himself.
The first few chapters encompass the backstory of the Norse gods; it begins with the story of the story of the world and goes on to map the relations between the different gods. For example, in contrast to popular belief, Loki shares a mother with Odin and is Thor’s uncle but they have a very leisure relationship. The reviews for the first few chapters can be read here, here, and here.
The following chapters are about how the different gods acquired their powers; how Odin popped his eye out to be able to see more, how Loki’s mischief plans win the gods their different special gifts like Thor’s hammer, and how the great wall surrounding Asgard was built.
The last chapters of the book are made of stories where the gods show their strength. The stories are about how mischievous Loki really is, how strong Thor really is, how power-hungry Odin really is, and how independent Freya really is. And the absolute last chapter is about Ragnarok and how the world will crumble and Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn to wake the sleeping gods and prepare them for one last war at Vigrid, the final battle field. Noble warriors, lead by Odin, will clash in the loudest clang of sword against sword with the evil dead of Loki.
In the end, Yggradsil will be the only remain of the Norse world and within it are Life and Life’s Yearning that will begin the world anew.
The stories were interesting and incredibly easy to follow and the chapters were set in a logical concession of each other. They were written in short parts that was incredibly smart since the stories were very dense with information and action. This “info-dump” is possibly Gaiman’s best talent especially with the different accounts and translations he was trying to incorporate into one story. Despite this, I do not necessarily think Gaiman’s writing fit the narration the stories deserved. Although the information was distributed evenly, the writing felt choppy and didn’t flow smoothly. I was expecting a narration closer to my kindergarten teacher when I was a child and she told me some of these stories. The lack of classical story-telling techniques almost took the magic and mystery out of the stories.
I hesitantly give it a 3-star writing; it is a great collection for new people interested in Norse Mythology but it lacked in being anything more than a future source of information.