Gaiman does a great job of telling the stories of the Norse Gods – wise Odin, mighty Thor, mischievous Loki et al – in a way that is witty, engaging and fun. This is not a serious academic tome; instead it’s a light-as-air introduction to this pantheon – how they came to be, their various adventures (and misadventures), and of course, the end of it all, Ragnarok. Though this book is really marketed to adults, I’d say it’s appropriate enough that older kids could enjoy it too (though there is some fairly explicit reference to violence, and less-explicit references to “making love”).
The characters have been modernised slightly, which gives them new life – witness Freya’s eye-rolling resentment of the gods when they mess up, and a rather pointed “I really hate you” directed at Loki, who has caused the situation (as usual). Loki himself is fairly despicable, yet I also felt for him – the gods don’t trust him, but they use him to solve their problems. That said, he’s caused most of those problems himself.
Thor, of course, is the start of the show, and he’s very mighty. Strong, mighty, can drink whole seas and smash mountains! Also a great big lunk. A bear of very little brain, is mythological Thor, closer to the cinematic Thor who torments his Australian housemate than the cinematic Thor who smashes aliens and gets smashed by the Hulk.
Ultimately, this is a worthwhile read, as it’s both enjoyable and a decent length. That said, Gaiman’s best interpretation of the pantheon is still American Gods.
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