Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


Growing up, I had a pretty substantial obsession with Greek Mythology. I owned several books on the gods and goddesses, including The Idiot’s Guide to Classical Mythology, and read every adaptation that I found in the library. I picked a favorite goddess (Artemis, goddess of the wilderness & fertility) and knew which gods would be complete sleaze balls if they existed in the real world. For whatever reason, my interest in mythology never really extended past the Greeks. Even Roman mythology, with all its similarities to Greek mythology, didn’t capture me the same way.

That may have changed now that I’ve listened to the audiobook Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is one of my favorite authors so I was pretty intrigued when I saw his newest book was a retelling of ancient myths. Up until now, my understanding of Norse myths was confined to what stood out to me the most in the Marvel movies (i.e. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston).

In Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman tells the stories of the gods and goddesses, beginning with the creation of the world and ending with Ragnarök, a.k.a. apocalypse. In between, there are about 15 stand alone myths that Gaiman weaves into a relaxed single narrative. However, the book still feels like a collection of short stories that you can pick up and set down as often as you like. I doubt you’ll want to set it down that often, but the option is there.

Most of the chapters star the Big Three of the Asgardian crew: Odin, the Allfather, Thor, the god of thunder, and Loki, the clever and treacherous giant who lives with the gods. Gaiman also mixes in plenty of new gods and goddesses that Norse Mythology rookies such as myself will likely know nothing about. There’s Tyr, who lets his own hand be bitten off by Loki’s monstrous wolf-son; Freya, a sassy goddess who I wish had more time to shine; Hod, the blind and ill-fated god who is cruelly tricked by Loki into killing his own brother; and many more.

Treachery, tongue-in-cheek humor, action, cunning, betrayal, a legendary hammer called Mjollnir. All of it is here, and all of it together makes for an incredibly entertaining 6 hours and 30 minutes. Neil Gaiman narrates the book himself, and he is as fantastic at storytelling as he is at writing.  If you’re looking for an audiobook to occupy a long road trip (or as in my case several small road trips) I highly recommend Norse Mythology.


While searching for gifs of Thor and Loki I came across this one:

Marvel franchise Thor smashes a coffee cup. Norse Mythology Thor smashes a seemingly unbreakable cup against the side of a giant’s head to win a massive ale-brewing cauldron and to escape with his own head intact. Coincidence? I prefer to think not.


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