Norse Mythology / by Erin Wade

![Norse Mythology](FullSizeRender (3).jpg)

Neil Gaiman probably needs no introduction for regular readers. He is a prolific author primarily of fantasy and fantastical stories, sometimes bordering on horror (and sometimes stepping over that line with works such as The Graveyard Book). He has embraced a variety of formats, stretching out beyond novels and short stories and into comics and children's books. He collaborates with illustrators across multiple formats, often to great effect.

One of my personal favorite examples of this is The Wolves in the Walls. This is an illustrated children's book I read to my child so many times that I can simply close my eyes and immediately picture entire sections of the book. It's a delightful read that uses its illustrations not just to entertain, but to guide the reader - it's clearly meant to be read aloud, as the hand drawn text changes size and shape as stage direction for the intensity and volume the reader should employ. To this day I can say to my child "when the wolves come out of walls..." and get the response "'s all over". The experience with this book led LB to seek out Gaiman's work as they were seeking out other material as well.

When I learned that Neil Gaiman was putting out a book on the Norse Myths I was both delighted and frustrated. Delighted because it's Gaiman writing in an area of long-held personal interest - I grew up on Marvel comics and I've always been particular to Thor (Hercules and Zeus can suck it). That had led me to seek out and read accounts of the myths themselves. I've returned to them again and again over the years, and I always find them as old friends.

Frustrated because I've always thought of them as fruitful ground for my own writing, well, you know, eventually. And here Neil f&@king Gaiman is, stealing my thunder (<--that's a Thor reference. Get it? Anyone??).

Turns out that the stories he presented here are different than I expected. For the most part he's hewed closely to the original stories, modernizing them slightly in terms of language, and fleshing them out just a bit where some additional detail is needed. It is, frankly, a demonstration of storytelling mastery - he knows the core of the stories are strong, and only adds what is needed to make them more accessible. It's a real service to these tales, which do reflect human struggles as shown in the lives of gods, but can sometimes be culturally different in a way that may make them hard for the uninitiated to follow.

As is typically the case, I listened to this book rather than reading it. There's an additional bonus here for the audiobook customer, because Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller. He routinely reads his work in public, and virtually always reads his books when the audio version is recorded. In a lot of ways, his writing style reflects this - he writes like a spoken storyteller, and while his stories are fine to read silently to ones self, they are virtually always improved by being read aloud, and never more so than when being read by Neil himself.

These tales are from a different culture in a different time. The motivations of the characters are unimpinged by many of the consternations that modern western audiences will be familiar with (though fans of the show Vikings will likely find similarities here). They are very much worth exploring, and never more so than with this opportunity - explore them with a master storyteller to guide your way. And - if you can - take the opportunity to do so via audiobook and let Neil take you all the way there.

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