Howdy, howdy! I recently finished reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and thought I would share some of my feelings about it. Let me start by explaining that it’s the first book I’ve really sat down and read in a long time. I’ve started others, but nothing has held my attention beyond the first few pages lately (not that they were bad, I just haven’t been in a mood that’s good for reading). So, I thought maybe a book of short stories by one of my favorite authors would get me back into a reading rhythm. It worked and here we are.
If I’m being honest, I can’t think of a single Neil Gaiman book I’ve read that I don’t have mixed feelings about. Norse Mythology is no exception. Yet his stories hold a special place in my heart despite everything I question (or even hate) about them. Why? Usually because there’s something memorable about the worlds or because I can relate to the characters. Not to mention that I simply enjoy his writing style, which is clear and simple and easy to get lost in.
But Norse Mythology is different, because this isn’t one of Gaiman’s worlds and these aren’t his characters. These stories have been around for centuries. This collection is just those stories written with his voice. These are the tales of the gods of Asgard. We start with a brief introduction to the main players, then get into the creation myth and work our way through a number of notable moments until we get all the way to Ragnarok. These are tales many of us have heard before in one form or another. It makes it really difficult for me to figure out if I liked the stories because I’m familiar with a lot of them already or because of the way Gaiman tells them. I like to think it’s a little bit of both.
As I mentioned, though, I had some mixed feelings about Norse Mythology. While I loved the stories, I kept running across moments that I wanted to see better, rather than just being told about. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this collection was written more in the vein of oral storytelling, which is vastly different from the written story in that it needs to be quick and easy to understand and entertaining, whereas you could spend ten pages of a written story describing a flower (you shouldn’t, but you could). I get that, but one of the golden rules of writing is to show, not tell. It’s really hard for me to ignore that rule. There were just a few parts that I thought would’ve benefited from a little more action.
Ultimately, I enjoyed Norse Mythology. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to people, especially if they’re new to the mythology and want to get a quick, but fairly in depth introduction to it. What about you? If you’ve read the collection, feel free to share your thoughts here or on my social media pages!
3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Gaiman’s Norse Mythology”
Great review! I’m also someone who will pick up anything with Gaiman’s name on it because I love his writing style. I didn’t know much about Norse mythology when I picked up this book, so I thought it was a good “primer” on the intricacies of Asgaard for beginners. But I also agree that I missed the level of detail and world building that I have come to know and love in Gaiman’s work. I guess if I want grittier gods, I’ll have to reread American Gods!
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Yes! I should probably reread that one too.