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Norse mythology
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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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*Starred Review* Gaiman yields to no one else writing modern-day-set dark fantasy in his use of classic mythologies, not just European but even West African Caribbean in the waggish, wonderful Anansi Boys (2005). His favorite body of myths is and those who've read enough of him don't need him to tell them so the Norse batch, the matter of Odin and Thor and Loki, of Valhalla and Midgard and Hel, of giants and (J. R. R. Tolkien's favorites) elves and dwarfs. It's fairly unsurprising, then, that he'd want to tell northwestern Europe's grandest old stories in his own idiom. Nor, really, is it surprising that he does a bang-up job of it. His simple, Anglo-Saxon-canted diction, which in his original fiction sometimes gets a little pinched and dry-throated, couldn't sound better to modern ears used to the clipped, the droll, the laconic that a century of hard-boiled literary patter has made normal. All common English speakers should easily hear this prose in their own voices (though they should also hear it in Gaiman's reading of the audiobook). From nothing, the counter-biblical original condition of Norse cosmology, to the total destruction of Ragnarok and a glimpse beyond it, Gaiman's retelling of these ever-striking and strange stories should be every reader's first book of Norse mythology. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Gaiman's immense audience and all lovers of myths and the classic fantasy novels they inspire will be seeking this key volume.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2016 Booklist
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