Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
As a lifelong fan of Norse mythology, I am very disappointed with this book. I normally like Gaiman’s writing but he did an absolute number on this one. It only took me a day to read, but not because I was engaged. The dialogue in this book is among the worst I have read, ranging from boring to plain awful. I can scarcely believe that I read these words in this book: “Odin blew some of the mead out of his behind, a splattery wet fart… …no one wanted to drink the mead that came out of Odin’s ass.“. That really happened. Why Gaiman thought those were good sentences to write I will never know, even after going back to Skáldskaparmál to check the original.
On a more personal note, his treatment of Thor was abysmal to me. Thor is a figure who has been very central to my self. Because of that, I realize that many will not share my reservations, but I must at least point out that Thor is not quite as much of a blubbering monosyllabic idiot as Neil would have us believe.
The best part of the book is Ragnarok, mainly because Gaiman has less spoken lines to bungle. Not to say that the description is always well put together. For the most part, it is uninspired and forgettable. Gaiman misses a great opportunity in enriching the descriptive parts of his prose, as that is an aspect of the myths that is more lacking in the poetic sources.
Overall, I do not recommend this book for fans of the Norse myths. And while I’m sure that those new to the myths may find much less fault with this book, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to them either. Instead, pick up The Norse Myths by Crossley-Holland (which Gaiman actually mentions in his intro) as it is still the best retelling of the myths. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4 / 10