(4 / 5)
Neil Gaiman revises the ancient sagas in Norse Mythology and refashions them into an enjoyable retelling of the exploits of the gods, while staying true to the original stories. From the creation of the nine worlds through to the end of time, Gaiman includes the creation stories, and the births of the gods, including Odin, Thor, and mischievous Loki. These versions are not like the movie portrayal perhaps, but there is a depth to the characters that is both subtle and courageous.
Using the threat of Ragnarok as the narrative arc, Gaiman shows both the humor and misfortune that permeates the sagas. Ragnarok—the end of time for the gods who will ultimately die—also offers a time of hope for mankind. The stories are infused with an emotion lacking in earlier translations, as well as motivations for actions and events, also lacking in earlier translations. Plus, Gaiman adds interesting and colorful dialogue that helps to bring these characters to life. Clearly Gaiman has loved these stories since childhood, and his treatment of them shows on every page.
Norse Mythology presents a worldview that is very different from our everyday life, but it can still help us to learn about humanity as a whole, especially since some of the tales feel particularly relevant to today.