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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 6 January 2019

"Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman

This is a retelling of the Norse myths which I first encountered as a child through the magnificent Saga of Asgard by Roger Lancelyn Green. This retelling has much in common with Mythos, the retelling of the Greek myths by Steven Fry. Both authors are masters are turning tales of long ago into stories with people who might be walking down the street right now.

Gaiman tells about how the world was created and the Aesir gods (and also some of the older Vanir gods such as Frey and Freya) who live in Asgard and who fight the giants. He tells of Odin, who bought his wisdom through the sacrifice of his eye and who gained his power through his own sacrifice, hanging himself for nine days from the branches of Yggdrasil, the world tree, his side punctured by the point of a spear. He tells of Thor, the strong and mighty warrior, who kills giants with his hammer. He tells of Loki, the deceitful, trickster god, who gets the gods out of the scrapes he has usually got them into in the first place. All these are tales of long ago. But Gaiman ends with a chilling account of Ragnarok, the last day, and the twilight of the gods, when the gods battle the giants and the people of Hel, with Loki, will fight the dead warriors of Valhalla, and when the children of Loki will kill and be killed by the gods.

These are brilliant stories and Gaiman is a superb storyteller. Perhaps those things go together.

There is so much in this book that was brilliant but here are a few of my favourite moments:

  • "Asgard ... was a Viking hall and collection of buildings out on the frozen wastes." (Introduction) 
  • "From the ice and the fire  that the universe begins in to the fire and the ice that end the world." (Introduction)
  • "The clouds ... were once Ymir's brains, and who knows what thoughts they were thinking, even now." (Before the beginning, and after)
  • "A world is not a world until it is inhabited." (Before the beginning, and after)
  • "The squirrel tells lies ... and takes joy in provoking anger." (Yggdrasil and the nine worlds)
  • "Some norns give people good lives, and others give us hard lives, or short lives, or twisted lives." (Yggdrasil and the nine worlds)
  • "Seldom do those who are silent make mistakes." (Mimir's head and Odin's eye)
  • "He tried to look ashamed and succeeded simply in looking pleased with himself." (The children of Loki)
  • "Dreams know more than they reveal."  (The children of Loki)
  • "The Death Ship, made from the untrimmed fingernails of the dead." (The story of Gerd and Frey)

A fabulous book by the best-selling author of, among much else, The Sandman and Anansi Boys.

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