Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
We listened to the audiobook. Together. We don’t do that a lot, but now, having heard it, we find it hard to imagine this particular book any other way. Neil Gaiman’s dry delivery of Loki’s cleverness, Thor’s bull-headed simplicity, and the narrator’s scathing one-liners had us laughing so loudly that we had to rewind it more than once.
We weren’t expecting to love it quite as much as we did. How original could this thing be? we thought. It’s just the collected stories of Norse mythology. Not to mention the fact that we both love Marvel’s versions of the characters. We were nervous going into it that it might be a little… well… done. We were so, so wrong.
We had no idea the treat we were in for.
The narrative wit is gloriously on point, and the reading itself is magnificent. Slight but brilliant variations in cadence lead from quick-stepping action into a droll zinger of a line, then immediately pick back up. Story elements are repeated with just the right comedic timing, making us snort laugh all over again.
And the dialog! The dialog is impeccable. Thor. Loki. Odin. Freya. You just have to hear it for yourself. Neil Gaiman is far more than a writer. He’s a storyteller. And a formidable showman. We should have known better than to doubt him for a single moment.
From the publisher:
Introducing an instant classic―master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman―difficult with his beard and huge appetite―to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir―the most sagacious of gods―is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
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