This is the first Neil Gaiman book I have ever read. My husband owns American Gods so I’ll probably add that to my TBR list with the TV series upcoming, and I caught peeks and glances at the Sandman graphic novel series as he was reading it. Gaiman seems to be his own flavor, the kind of author that you can sense when you get close to his work. When I saw that his new release was about Norse gods and myths, I was excited to pick it up and get a taste.
Have you ever sat down to read the Bible? Don’t worry, I’m not getting religious on you, but I’m just asking – have you ever read a book or section of the Bible like you are reading a normal book? It has a rhythm – people are related to other people, they do something, we learn a lesson or see a foreshadowing. I am not familiar with other religious texts, but I would assume they follow a similar formula just based on my education with history and how religions progressed.
When I opened this book I expected a dark, intricate, compelling story weaving through these familiar characters to create a new vision that is more than what we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe. It wasn’t deep fantasy; what it was was an assortment of complex parables that echoed Biblical rhythms and moved toward the end of the world a la Revelations. Gaiman has created a Norse New Testament, and I am here for it.
Of course there are Thor, Loki, and Odin. There are enough familiar tendrils of this mythology there that even if your only exposure to Norse mythology is through the Marvel movies, you’ve got a foundation for enjoyment. Thor is a little dumber and Loki a bit more complex, both of which make the stories funnier and more intense. I especially enjoyed the fleshing out of Odin and all his complexities. I loved that, as the All-Father, he basically had his hands in everything in many different ways.
My favorite stories were the ones that involved the beautiful Freya. She is not here for anyone’s bullshit, she will not be used as a bargaining chip or a pawn, and you will not insult or bother her. She’s a lady that is smart, pretty, and full of rage and I LOVED her. Her slogan should be “oh, you dumb motherfuckers again?” because I can just see her side eyeing every single god that even thinks in her direction.
This book was not what I expected but it was a pleasant surprise. It is a collection of fables and fantastic feats that will entertain and enlighten you. They are short stories but also part of a larger narrative that leads to the conclusion at Ragnarok. I wouldn’t rush to this book, it’s not an immediate blow-your-mind kind of situation, but I would definitely put it on your list. You won’t want to miss out.