My Thoughts on “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman

Would you like to find out more about the adventures of Thor & Loki? Would you like to discover how Tyr, the Norse God of War lost his arm? How about wanting to learn more about Kvasir, the wisest of all beings, or of Idunn and her apples of immortality? Well if you answered yes to any of those questions, then this will be the book for you!

Last week, I finished reading “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman. Mythology is a topic, of which I personally love, and have explored a couple of times on the blog in the past. Today’s blog is going to take a look at my thoughts surrounding the book!

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Norse Mythology has been a subject which has always fascinated me. Tales of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, around which everything exists, including the Nine Worlds, the many adventures and battles of Thor & Loki, Odin and his quest for knowledge and so many other stories make the mythos that much more exciting to learn more about. When I found that the one and only Neil Gaiman had written a book on the topic, I just had to buy it.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at my thoughts surrounding “Norse Mythology”, by Neil Gaiman.

The book starts off with introducing the 3 main characters which frequently appear throughout the book, these being Odin, Thor and Loki. Odin is the oldest and highest of the Gods. He only has one eye, as he sacrificed the other for knowledge at Mimir’s Well. Odin goes by many different names, including the all-father, Grimnir and Blindr, to name but a few.

A statue of Odin in Hannover

Odin is often seen with two ravens on his shoulders, Huginn (from the Old Norse word for “Thought”) and Muninn (from the Old Norse word for “memory” or “mind”). These ravens fly all around Midgard (Earth) and bring information back to Odin. Odin also has two wolves which are commonly with him, which go by the name of Geri and Freki.

Thor is the son of Odin, and is the God of Thunder, the Sky and of Agriculture. He uses a hammer called Mjölnir and has a belt called megingjörð, which when he wears it, it doubles his strength. Thor is regarded as the strongest of the Gods, and is often the one to deal with any threats. Although he isn’t the smartest of his fellows Gods and Goddesses, he more than makes up for it with his strength.

A Statue of Thor

Loki is the son of a Giant in Norse Myth, and is the God of Mischief. Loki is the father of Hel, Fenris Wolf and of Jörmungandr. Loki’s schemes are often the forefront of the stories in the Norse Cosmology, and his children are said to bring about Ragnarok, which is seen as ‘doomsday’ or the ‘end of the world’.

I could go into a lot more detail about each of the Gods, and the stories which surround them, but for the sake of today’s blog, let’s take a look at my thoughts for the rest of the book!

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Throughout the book, Gaiman shares with us his take on a number of the different stories which exist within Norse Mythology, including:

  • The Treasures of the Gods – this story takes a look at how the Gods received their treasures. We learn the origins of Odin’s staff Gungnir, Thor’s Hammer, a Golden Wig for Lady Sif, the Golden Ring Draupnir, and many more. This tale is found close to the start of the book, as a lot of the treasures created, are used throughout many of the other stories.
  • The Mead of Poets – this story follows Kvasir, the wisest of all beings, who was born from the saliva of the Æsir & the Vanir, both sides of the Gods in Norse Mythology. We follow Kvasir up until he is killed, by the dwarfs Fjalar and Galar, who go onto to drain his blood to make the Mead of Poetry. We then go on to follow the Mead of Poetry, as it passes hands from owner to owner, until it eventually returns to the Gods in Asgard.
  • Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants – this tale follows Thor, Loki & Thialfi as they enter Utgard and meet the Giant Utgarda-Loki. Utgarda-Loki informs the trio that in order to stay at Utgard, they need to complete a challenge. Loki had to consume a trencher full of meats against an opponent, Thor was challenged to a drinking contest and Thialfi was challenged to a race.

    Each of the three lost their challenges, and later on Utgarda-Loki reveals that he tricked them all using illusions. Loki was competing against wildfire itself, Thialfi had been racing against the speed of thought and Thor was drinking the whole of Earth’s seas.

    Thor was also challenged to lift up a cat, which was , as you can imagine, an illusion and was really Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, whose body stretches over 24,901 miles.

Gaiman does write about a lot more tales than just the ones I wrote above, but to keep the blog from getting too long, let’s move on to some of my other thoughts surrounding the book, before finishing off.

One thing I loved about this book was just how easy it was to read. Gaiman writes in such a way that is so addicting and easy to read, that I must have gotten through the book in only a couple of nights. Each story is written in a very short and easy to understand way, and time just flies by when you start reading it.

The way in which Gaiman talks about the Gods of Norse Mythology is so engaging, and when you start reading, you just will not want to put the book down, I know I certainly didn’t. I really enjoyed the way that he wrote this, and found that I learnt quite a bit more about the Norse Cosmology, which is always an added bonus!

Neil Gaiman

A lot of the reviews that I have seen for the book describe it as if each chapter is like a story at a campfire, and I can really see why. It’s written in a very light-hearted and fun way, which helps your imagination run wild, and helps you fully immerse yourself into the storytelling!

If you are interested in finding out more about Norse Mythology, or just want to read a really good book, I highly recommend this one! It’s not the longest of books, but is one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the same!

Thank you all for reading today’s blog! What do you think? Do you know much about Norse Mythology? Are you interested in giving this book a read? Would you like to see more mythology style posts up on the page? What books do you enjoy reading?

Be sure to let me know your answers to the above questions, and any other thoughts and queries that you may have, either in the comments below, or through our Facebook page!

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great day!

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James Sweeney

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