Non Fiction

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythology

I was a bit of an odd child. I used to live in imaginary worlds full of fairies and other mythical creatures to whom I would serve tea.

I remember playing in my native woods with them, making houses for them and also having some heated arguments with them when they didn’t do what I wanted them to do.

I also remember Thor, Loki and Odin featuring in some of my encounters from time to time.

I was fascinated by mythology as a child. I would read anything I could get my hands on that was written on Greek / Norse / South American / Egyptian / Slavic etc. myths and tales.

The Norse myths were amongst my favourite ones. I am more of a winter rather than a summer person and I have always been interested in Scandinavia; its beautiful nature, architecture that compliments it and its people. Stories full of frost giants really are my thing. 🙂

Retellings of classical myths can be a bit of a hit or miss in my case. Sometimes I love them and sometimes, they are just not for me. I’m happy to report that Gaiman’s Norse Mythology was clearly written for me… 😉

But before I review this book, let’s have a look at GoodReads blurb first:

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 fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.


Norse Mythology is a collection of stories. Because of that, it could be easily read (or listened to) whilst reading other books or being short on time.

I absolutely adored this collection. Gaiman’s spin on Norse myths is a brilliant example how we can use something old and make it work. Not every work we crate must be ‘original‘, in fact telling something familiar whilst using our own voices and experiences can be extremely powerful.

Those stories feel modern, Gaiman’s sharp writing gives them a nice punch. They are fast paced and full of action. There is also a lot of humour involved – I chuckled many times. And they brought me back my childhood memories and that bittersweet feeling of nostalgia.

I listened to this collection of stories as an audiobook narrated by the author himself.

Gaiman is not only a skilled writer, but he also is an excellent narrator.

I found his voice splendidly adjusting to different characters – it would become loud and booming whenever Thor entered a scene and softer with hints of cunningness / slyness whenever Loki would show up. His accent adjusted well to dwarfs and giants and I honestly had a blast. I am likely to re-listen to these stories again as I loved them so much.

Side note: I did laugh-out-loud a few times whilst listening to this audiobook on a busy London tube. I got a few weird stares, but it did make my usually unpleasant tube experience quite bearable! I also nearly missed my stop a few times… so beware! 😉

Parting comments: I’ve always been fascinated how people across different geographies created myths that had so many similarities. Our need to explain our world via story telling is something that has always captivated me. If you are familiar with Greek myths, you may find many alike sounding themes in those Norse myths as well. Our vivid imagination, and how we can perceive nature and everything that is happening around us, without having to dip into scientific explanations, is something I have appreciated, and it is probably the main reason why I love mythology in general.


Over to you! 🙂

  • Have you read this book?
  • Do you read myths in general? And if so, what is your ‘favourite’ geography?

Verdict:  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple (5/5)

Bookish

T5W Rewind – Favourite Villains

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. For today’s topic, I have chosen Favourite Villains.


In any book I read or a movie I watch, I crave complex characters.

I enjoy discovering characters that are not entirely likeable.

The protagonists must have flaws and the purpose of their stories is to overcome them. Equally, for their antagonists, there must be still some humanity left in them in order for me to sympathise with them. I will not condone their actions, but I may at least understand, where that behaviour is coming from.

There are many evil psychopathic villains out there and they have their place. My list below probably consists mostly of sympathetic or rather tragic villains.

Side note: The Orangutan Librarian wrote a brilliant post on Why Villains are the Greatest. I really recommend checking it out!


  • Sméagol / Gollum – The Lord of the Ring Series

Gollum

Let’s pause and appreciate Gollum’s portrait by Frédéric Bennett 

Gollum is probably my favourite.

I like his character because there is still some humanity left in him, despite being consumed by his extremely powerful desire for the Ring.

He always gives me hope; that humanity can persevere.

  • Loki – Norse Mythology (and Marvel comics)

loki

Picture by incredible artist Sceith

Loki is a broken man damaged by his past.

The legends tell us the harder he tries, the harder he usually falls.

I guess that could make his actions seem somehow relatable. And I think that’s what makes him an interesting character as well.

  • Magneto – Marvel Comics, X-Men

Magneto

Image credit

Another character haunted by his dark past.

His intentions are to make the world a better place for the mutants.

Unfortunately his approach, to kill all humans, is what makes him an anti-hero material. That doesn’t mean we approve of his choices, but can at least understand what made him into that villain.

  • Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader

star wars origin

Photo credit

Because every hero has a villain potential.

And because we don’t know what we are capable of doing until everything we love is threatened to be taken away from us.

And because of that redemption and hope that goes with it.

  • Jamie Lannister from “A Song of Ice and Fire” series

George R.R Martin has this cunning ability to create complex characters that I just want to know more of.

got__jaime_lannister_by_antylopa-dazvdlv

Amazing drawing by Antylopa

Jamie is one of them.

In the first few books, he is a ‘classic’ villain. His actions are fuelled by his selfish and ego-centric behaviour and of course there is that sibling love.

Then he is forced to face his disability and he raises up to that challenge.

It has something to do with certain Brienne of Tarth. Their unlikely friendship and those first glimpses of Jamie’s humanity, that were there all along but buried deep within, are probably one of my favourite parts of the Game of Thrones series.


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite villains? Fancy sharing some of them with me? 🙂