Mythos Retold: Review of Neil Gaimans' "Norse Mythology"

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s since the early 90’s when his Sandman series was moving from the dusty corners of back-alley comic book shops to international sensation. All in all, Gaiman has done well transitioning from cult graphic novel writer to best-selling fantasy author and now producing partner to one of the biggest shows on TV (American Gods). 

Much of Gaiman’s fiction through the years has pulled heavily on the Norse mythos. So, now, in what we will charitably consider as “returning the favor”, Gaiman has taken some of the best known tales from Norse mythology and “retold” them in his own his own voice. Gone are the usual rhyming couplets or soliloquies of a lot mythical tales as they have been replaced with normal voices and Gaiman’s slightly lyrical cadences.

The gods don’t prosthelytise but rather chat, argue, scheme and threaten like people, and somewhat normal people at that. But, we learn how Loki is the guy who knows how to get you anything you want, but it’ll nearly always end in disaster. And we learn, never trust Thor to eat daintily at the feast. And, we learn that Odin is crafty and wise and can fart poetry (true story).

Mostly though, we learn, as my sister put it, that “gods are a**holes”.