Traditional stories and myths are essential reading because they enrich your reading experience. I know my Greek myths fairly well. My husband’s college Greek mythology book has survived multiple purges of old college textbooks. However, I am less familiar with Norse mythology. I knew Odin, Loki, and Thor to some extent, but I couldn’t tell you a specific story about any of them. As I was reading American Gods, a book that features Odin as a main character, I regularly looked details up online or asked my husband (he likes Norse and Egyptian myths) what he remembered about certain gods. I was excited to hear about the release of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman because these tales have clearly inspired him for a long time, creeping regularly into work.
The stories are beautifully done, with the gods coming to life. Despite all of their godly feats, they seem very human. One of my favorite themes in classic tales is the self-fulfilling prophecy. Even with all of Odin’s wisdom, he doesn’t see how his actions towards Loki’s children are going to lead Ragnarok. And Loki, for all his cleverness, frequently causes his own problems that he is forced to solve. There is also Thor. A character of simple motivations, he chooses to solve his problems with his trusty hammer.
I knew I would eventually read this book, but it happened a little sooner than planned since I bought on an impulse in the Atlanta airport. I’m glad I did. It was a quick read, prefect for the short snatches of time I had to read for a week. I know I will reread stories from this book, and I definitely enjoyed it. However, I gave it four out of five stars out of greed. I wanted more. I felt like it was just starting . . . and then the world ends. It was a surprisingly satisfying ending, but I still wanted to read more. There must be more stories about Kvasir, Freya, and Balder. If anyone has suggestions for other mythological tales I should read, I will happily take them.