Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman

How obtained: Libby- library app.

Riding on the back of the recent Thor movies, Neil Gaiman’s latest book takes us on a whirlwind journey through some of the common Norse Mythology stories and characters. Loki, Thor, Odin and Freya make frequent appearances, along with giants and dwarves, several other less talked about God’s and the occasional human.

It starts at the beginning, with the birth of the giants and the gods, who actually came from the giants/ are very closely related to them. It ends with Ragnarok- the end of days- the battle where (nearly) all the Gods die. But then life begins again, as it always does.

I found that the first few stories- of creation and the beginning of Gods etc were a bit confusing- how could people believe this as their religion? I wondered. Did they really believe it or was it more just a story? They didn’t really make much sense as far as origin stories go, but that’s ok- a lot of myths are a bit odd. The bulk of the stories are more like epic tales and morality tales, with plenty of drinking killing and eating, and lots of tricking, particularly from Loki, but also from lots of other characters.

Loki is of course the most fascinating character. He frequently does things to harm or spite others for no reason at all, but half the time ends up actually improving things. I think he is best thought of as both Chaos, and a catalyst. He gets people to do things they wouldn’t have wanted to do otherwise, and then that often leads to a grand adventure, or a reward. Or to death and life being worse off. But either way, life is more interesting if Loki has played a part.

I haven’t seen the movie Ragnarok yet. I suspect it will have little to do with how the original myth played out. I would be rather surprised if the end of the movie was actually the end of everything!

I get the feeling that there is so much more going on in the worlds outlined, than what we get to see in the stories. There are hints of vast cities full of activity, and countries traversed and wars fought with unknown other forces, when we hear about just a few people and happenings. Was the rest ever known? Or did the God’s only ever allow a glimpse to the human bards who passed on their stories so many years ago.


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