Originally posted May 2017
If you’re looking for a read that’ll help you ramp up to the next Game of Thrones season, here’s your book.
Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman, has all the creatures, craven behavior and crazy-ass names to whet the palate heading into another visit to the Seven Kingdoms. I’m just glad I didn’t have to try to read this out loud. Can you pronounce Megingjord? Jormungundr? Svartalfheim? Audhumla? Skrymir? I didn’t think so.
Gaiman does these old-school myths proud, taking what today’s younger set recognize only as movie characters (Looking at you, Thor) and putting it back into its proper context. This would make a fabulous pic for the adventurous high school British Lit teacher to insert into the class syllabus, over another round of Beowulf.
Giants! Serpents! Magic! Gods! From bad boy Loki to hammer-carrying Thor to the one-eyed wiz Odin, these stories are designed both to inform and entertain. (My take on the birth of poetry is forever altered.)
The book is broken into smaller stories which makes it something easy to pick up and put back down, without feeling like you need to complete it in a single sitting. But you could if you wanted to. And despite the occasional darkness of the settings and the seemingly gratuitous amounts of death and destruction, readers are left with a message of hope — or continuity, at the very least. For when the world ends, it can begin again. A good message for these times — if only if we can find the Yggdrasil in which to hide.