Review of Norse Mythology (2016)


Neil Gaiman (writer).

Read in 2017.

The opening and ending retain some of the primal harshness of the Eddas, but the chapters in between have been reduced to repetitive cartoons. No sense of scale is added to the legends, hence there is not even superficial believability. Odin, Kvasir and Balder are all described as the wisest of the gods without regard for internal consistency or showing over telling, beauty is the primary characteristic of all the sympathetic female characters, Loki’s scheming is comically implausible, and Thor is comically dumb in the manner of a sitcom. Rather than try to improve upon the originals in any of these aspects, Gaiman exaggerates the flaws in his breezy, idiomatically modern writing style, dressed up with the occasional “shall” for Ren Faire flavour. I have to think he aimed this like Kipling’s Just So Stories for Little Children (1902), even if it wasn’t marketed that way.

References here: American Gods (2001).

text fiction