Introducing an instant classicmaster storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Lokison of a giantblood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a womandifficult with his beard and huge appetiteto steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasirthe most sagacious of godsis turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Neil Gaiman is the author of the New York Times best-selling A View from the Cheap Seats, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Neverwhere, and the Sandman series of graphic novels, among other works. His fiction has received Newbery, Carnegie, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner Awards. His novel American Gods will be a TV series airing in 2017. Originally from England, he lives in the United States, where he is a professor at Bard College.
Date of Birth:November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:Portchester, England
Education:Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
Having already appropriated Odin and Loki for his novel American Gods, Gaiman turns his restless imagination to a retelling of Norse folklore (a youthful interest of his). He begins by introducing us to the three main mythological figures: Odin, the highest and oldest of the gods; his son, Thor, who makes up in brawn what he lacks in brains; and Loki, offspring of giants and a wily trickster. In a series of stories, we learn how Thor acquired his famous hammer, Mjollnir, how Odin tricked a giant into building a wall around Asgard, the home of the gods, how Loki helped Thor retrieve his hammer from the ogre that had stolen it, and how a visit to the land of the giants resulted in the humbling of Thor and Loki. In most of the stories, a consistent dynamic rules as one god tries to get something over on another god, but novelist that he is, Gaiman also provides a dramatic continuity to these stories that takes us from the birth of the gods to their blood-soaked twilight. Employing dialogue that is anachronistically current in nature, Gaiman has great fun in bringing these gods down to a human level. Like John Gardner in Grendel, a classic retelling of Beowulf, and Philip Pullman in his rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen stories, Gaiman takes a well-worn subject and makes it his own. (Feb.)
“Taking a few modern liberties with the stories, Gaiman’s Norse Mythology delights in the gods’ petty machinations as much as their heroics. In these accessible, retold tales, fantasy is odd, and real, and dire.”Ethan Gilsdorf - The Boston Globe
“No contemporary fiction writer gets more of his power from the mythological tradition than Neil Gaiman. . . . As always, Gaiman’s a charming raconteur . . . [and he] recognizes a ripping yarn when he sees one.”Douglas Wolk - Los Angeles Times
“A gripping, suspenseful and quite wonderful reworking of these famous tales. Once you fall into the rhythm of its glinting prose, you will happily read on and on, in thrall to Gaiman’s skillful storytelling.”Michael Dirda - Washington Post
“Weaving together ancient Norse mythology with 21st-century sensibility, Gaiman's storytelling once again recreates an entire genre for the modern reader.”Newsweek
“In reinterpreting the tales so faithfully and with such abundant joy, Gaiman assumes the role of fireside bard, inviting us to sit close on a chilly winter’s night and chuckle and wonder along with him.”James Lovegrove - Financial Times
“Gaiman’s masterful storytelling transcends our most vivid dreams, exploring ancient territory from a fantastically fresh perspective. . . . [and inviting us] to listen to stories in the same way we would as children: engrossed and enraptured by the magic of myth. . . . [Norse Mythology] will breathe new life into these old gods, reminding us of the power that great storytelling still holds over us all.”Dani Hedlund - F(r)iction
“Mr. Gaiman milks [the Norse gods’ hijinks] for all their humor and incongruity, very much in the spirit of the originals. . . . [He] has produced . . . a clear, continuous narrative, with big scenes the same as they always were but with emotional pointers added.”Tom Shippey - The Wall Street Journal
“Remarkable. . . . Gaiman has provided an enchanting contemporary interpretation of the Viking ethos.”Lisa L. Hannett - The Atlantic
“Who else but Neil Gaiman could become an accomplice of the gods, using the sorcery of words to make their stories new? The author of American Gods transforms Norse myths into addictive reading for young and old, with high-wattage retellings that preserve the monumental grandeur of the Nordic universe but also turn it into a world that is up close and personal, full of antic wit and dark intrigue.”Maria Tatar
“The fascinating ancient tales in the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda have always needed gifted storytellers to breathe new life into them from century to century, and who better now than Neil Gailman to retell the tantalizing Norse myths with great gusto. Gaiman has such a profound understanding of the conflicts of Odin, Thor, Loki, and other gods that he revitalizes them through his imaginative depictions. His interpretation of major Norse myths will draw readers into a strange realm that will dazzle and baffle and lead to a new appreciation of Norse mythology.”Jack Zipes
★ 02/15/2017Library Journal
In his fiction, Gaiman (American Gods; Sandman) frequently explores the themes and tropes of mythology from around the world. Here, he operates within narrower confines, retelling the classic stories of Norse mythology but with no less humor, sense of adventure, and imagination than when he's playing in worlds of his own making. Here the adventures and misadventures of the Norse gods and goddesses function as short stories that, together, build an arc that leads the reader onward to Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods. Giants, ogres, dwarves, fantastical beasts, and the occasional human freely mingle with Thor, Odin, Loki, Freya, and other, less well-known gods and goddesses, all of whom are passionate, flawed, weird, and divinely entertaining. VERDICT A spectacularly entertaining and elucidating collection of stories with wide crossover appeal. Essential for all collections.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
★ 2016-11-22Kirkus Reviews
Fire and ice to begin, fire and ice to end. And it's not going to end well, friends: first come the giants, then the all-ravening wolf, and then….The ancient Norse had a cheerless view of the world: the gods are jealous, the elements fierce, the enemies—trolls and giants among them—many, and if you're lucky you'll be killed in battle and gathered up to Valhalla, "and there you will drink and fight and feast and battle, with Odin as your leader." So writes Gaiman (The View from the Cheap Seats, 2016, etc.), famed for his intelligent fantasy novels but long under the spell of that great body of myth. As an English schoolboy, he reveled in Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen, a somewhat stodgy but valuable collection (as he notes, as a creature of his time, he was introduced to the Norse by way of the Mighty Thor comic books); now, as an adult, he gets to retell the tales, drawing from Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, sagas in verse, and other sources. As he notes, rightly, that body of work is incomplete and perhaps corrupted by later Christian intrusions, so that it has to be viewed with some degree of suspicion; by the same token, he writes, so many of the goddesses in particular have been "lost, or buried, or forgotten," overshadowed by the better-known likes of Thor, Odin, and Loki and all their busy kinfolk. Gaiman writes assuredly and evocatively and with a precise eye for the atmospheric detail: "Niflheim was colder than cold, and the murky mist that cloaked everything hung heavily," he intones, catching the ancient alliteration. There's plenty of mayhem and gore, and once the gods have had their fun, everything comes "crashing down and crumbling into ash and devastation." But before that happens and Ragnarok descends, we have this lively book to cheer us along. Superb. Just the thing for the literate fantasy lover and the student of comparative religion and mythology alike.