The closest knowledge I had about Norse mythology before reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology was from the TV show Vikings and the hero Thor in The Avengers and Thor movies. The portrayal of the various gods and goddesses provides each significance and makes her/him stand out among the diverse family of heroes and heroines. Some of these gods and goddesses are Odin, Loki, Thor, Njord Frey, Freya, Frigg, Balder, Tyr, Heimdall, the frost giants, Hel, the goddess of the dead, and the many others…In a way, it is easy to connect each god to reality, as Gaiman gives each a colorful personality that mirrors people and distinguishes each from one another. He makes it a thought-provoking read.
My intrigue with Norse Mythology has me looking forward to the game, God of War, releasing later this year. I have high hopes the game accurately portrays Norse mythology as it did Greek mythology and the gods and goddesses.
Gaiman does not take long before describing probably the most essential element in the Norse world – the Tree of Life or Yggdrasil – the place where the gods and goddesses live; this is also considered their sacred and eternal tree. Branches stretch out, representing the nine worlds of Norse mythology. Interestingly, one of the roots, called Asgard, represents the home of the gods and goddesses. Urd’s well is the root next door and where they hold meetings. I recall many meetings from reading Gaiman’s book. He paints vivid pictures of the gods and goddesses and their personalities through their dialogue and the other interactions they have. If you are curious about the frost giants (one of, if not the main enemy of the Norse Gods), they have many discussions about these creatures in the book.
Though the book does not dive deep into details of each of the nine worlds, Gaiman manages to describe and provide enough details to understand the importance and place each world has, and how the gods and goddesses are impacted by the other worlds and the creatures and beings who inhabit them. I would like to have known more about the Elves and even the underworld, but I left satisfied with the insights and description provided for the nine worlds. Norse mythology is a huge world and would require multiple books to cover each world. The Rainbow bridge, also known as Bifrost, is guarded by the God of Foresight, Heimdall.
Neil Gaiman does not merely inform readers about Norse mythology but carves a story through the mythical world with rich detail and characterization. It is as if he is writing his own fiction of the Norse Gods; however, his description of the Norse gods and the stories are accurate. Loki and Thor actually drive much of the story, along with the gods’ issues with the frost and mountain giants. To stay spoiler free, I will not go into details, but if you are looking for an introduction to Norse Mythology, I would recommend this book. I would also recommend this book for those familiar with Norse Mythology; one who has examined the world of Norse mythology may not learn much new, but she/he should enjoy the enthusiasm Gaiman puts into the story-telling and imagery in this book.
Who can finish my list of Norse gods and goddesses below: