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“Before the beginning there was nothing – no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.” Published by Bloomsbury, and written by the award winning Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology takes us on an adventure from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok, the final downfall of the Norse gods. This novel provides us with a vital re-emergence of the myths that were once forgotten  focusing on three key gods; Odin, Thor and Loki.

The Norse Gods are not as grand as the Greek gods, they are not as unique as the Egyptian Pantheons, but they are a fountain of wonder. Gaiman’s collection of Norse Mythology shows the gods to have various human qualities and motives behind every adventure. They make mistakes, they fall in love with the wrong people and they succumb to jealousy. Gaiman arguably gives these gods a humanity. He has been widely recognised and congratulated for creating a world where these gods can once again bloom, flourish and battle.

This quirky text engages with the reader through its humorous and delightful adventures. The gods’ complicated and very human like relationships makes us want to read on. Like a highly dysfunctional family the gods must overcome challenges and forgive to survive. None of them would exist without the wonderfully intriguing Odin, commonly known as the “all father”. Gaiman’s “Odin knows many secrets. He gave an eye for wisdom. More than that, for knowledge of runes, and for power, he sacrificed himself for himself.” The god has the final say over them all and it only takes one word of his to lead every god to their end. His relationship with Loki is full of friction and disagreement: Loki, “is more cunning, subtler, trickier than any god or giant. Not even Odin is as cunning. […] Loki is Odin’s blood brother. The other gods do not know when Loki came to Asgard, or how. He is Thor’s friend and Thor’s betrayer. He is tolerated by the gods, perhaps because his stratagems and plans save them as often as they get them in to trouble.” From the moment Thor received his precious hammer, Mjollnir, he becomes a god of great power. He is the “defender of Asgard and of Midgard.” Among the trolls and giants he is feared for his bravery and strength. His massive hubris drives all his adventures, some leading to more trouble than others.

Gaiman’s admiration and love for these myths is evident on every page and shines through every devoted word. Instead of his imagination being the driving force, this novel tells the tales of stories that have already been told. This text acts as a personal reference to his other works with a crisp and direct narrative that mingles an adults insight and a child’s curious imagination of magic and adventure. I only wish that it had more in depth reference to the female gods. Despite this minor absence, it has giants, a Midgard serpent, runes,  love triangles and the final downfall. Gaiman’s Norse mythology comes with high recommendation.

Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology. Bloomsbury, 2017.

Kirsty Gardiner

Kirsty Gardiner

Kirsty Gardiner was born and raised in Essex and has a keen passion for writing Flash Fiction. Some of her favourite writers consist of F.Scott Fitzgerald and China Miéville. Throughout her work, Kirsty uses her personal experiences as inspiration. For this writer, writing is an emotional release. After finishing her B.A Degree in English with Creative Writing, Kirsty plans to complete her PGCE English course at the Institute Of Education (IOE.)