Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanNorse Mythology written by Neil Gaiman; published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110; (212) 354-5500 http://www.wwnorton.com eriley@wwnorton.com

Neil Gaiman respects the Old Gods and that is why he is the proper man to write their tales. Gaiman did not just read tales that modern men have written to decipher the Old God’s realities, but he went back and studied the original translation of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, the verses of the Poetic Edda, which was written nine hundred years ago to reveal the stories of the Old Gods.

Think back to the early history of humankind, where men, women and children huddled around the fires at the entrance to their caves, or the giant fireplaces in the stone houses of the Vikings, and then you will be able to come to an understanding of the Old Gods.

Odin, Thor, Loki, Tyr the one handed (Odin’s Son) and Frigg, the queen of the Gods, where we get the names of some of the days of the week, for instance, Odin was called Wednesday; Frigg was called Friday, just to name two of them.

Think of Jesus on the cross and then hear the tale of Odin, the greatest of the Gods, who, for the seeking of knowledge and runes, sacrificed himself on the World Tree, Yggdrasil, where he hung for nine days and nine nights; during that time his side was pierced by the point of a spear and yet he lived and hung on the Tree without eating or drinking, alone in great pain and suddenly, just before death took him he peered down at the ground and the runes of knowledge were revealed to him.

Odin came to understand then, and his ropes disintegrated as the great God fell from the tree knowing the power of magic and having the ability to control the world. Now then, think of Jesus on the cross, with his side pierced by the spear. Who is the older of the Gods?

Neil Gaiman spins the webs of the God’s lives in Norse Mythology, tale after tale. Did he drink mead, the poetic drink of the Gods, while he was writing these tales? It may well be so.

One of the tales is called The Treasures of The Gods. It is the best story about Loki, the Trickster God, I have ever read. It starts with a tragic event and ends with everyone happy, all that is, except for Loki. It also reveals how many of the treasures of the Gods are created, even the great Hammer of Thor.

One of Loki’s greatest tricks is to change his shape and appear as anything or anyone he wants. He used this trick to thwart The Master Builder from finishing Asgard’s great wall on time.

Loki was married but he carried his ways into marital bliss. It was bliss to him but to his wife Sigyn had her doubts. Which were well founded, for Loki would disappear for a time and then, when he returned, he was happy but Sigyn was not. After Loki’s third disappearance, Odin dreamed into Loki’s travels and found that he was carrying on with a Giantess named Angrboda.

Loki had three children with Angrboda. One child named herself Hel; another of the children was named Jormungundu and the third child was called Fenrir. These were Loki’s children with the Giantess; he had two children with his wedded wife; one named Narfi and he was not well-behaved, and another named Vali and he was obedient and restrained. But it is Loki’s children with the Giantess that the story is about. You will understand when you read the story of The Children of Loki. That doesn’t mean you will know what you understand.

The stories in Norse Mythology just keep getting better. Another great story is called The Apples of Immortality. After all, the Gods don’t stay young just because they are Gods. What would happen if someone stole the apples of immortality? Only Loki, the God of Mischief, could have a hand in something like this.

I believe that Neil Gaiman was one of the gifts of the Gods, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to spin such tales from the past. I wonder, in the end, if Neil Gaiman will pay the price for his tales. If the Gods read these stories, they may get want to get even with him.

As I read Norse Mythology, I have come to wonder if Neil Gaiman is really Loki in human form. Gaiman’s stories have tricks in them that only Loki could conceive. Sometimes I think that only Loki or Joe Hill could achieve such a feat, but Neil Gaiman pulls it off wonderfully.

The book will be released on February 7th and I am sure that the Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square will have copies for sale. Please don’t miss this book, even if you’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman. It’s a great place to start.

Norse Mythology is one of the best books by Neil Gaiman that I have ever read and I’ve read almost all of them—The Sandman, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, & Black Dog, which is a novella that was born from American Gods. There are other books, books written for Young Adults such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book, just to name two.

Enjoy!

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