A BOOK REVIEW OF NORSE MYTHOLOGY BY NEIL GAIMAN
Here is the last thing, and a shameful admission it is. When the all-father in eagle form had almost reached the vats, with Suttung immediately behind him, Odin blew some of the mead out of his behind, a splattery wet fart of foul-smelling mead right in Suttung’s face, blinding the giant and throwing him off Odin’s trail.
No one, then or now, wanted to drink the mead that came out of Odin’s ass. But whenever you hear bad poets declaiming their bad poetry, filled with foolish similes and ugly rhymes, you will know which of the meads they have tasted.Excerpt from Mead of Poetry in Norse Mythology.
I’m a sucker for mythology. Yes, I am referring to the classic Roman and Greek myths. They had captured my attention and held it for as long as I could remember. Memories of my fascination with classical myths can be traced back to the days of the Scholastic Book Orders. I would try to convince my mom what a great, educational opportunity it was for her to buy me the book about Greek and Roman myths, and the ancient civilizations that birthed these stories. Skip ahead to university, where I further explored the depths of my fascination by taking courses in Roman civilization, touching upon the mythology because it was impossible to talk about the civilization without discussing the beliefs of the people who lived within it. During the course of my English degree, I studied various works that heavily referenced Greek gods and goddesses, alluding to the varied adventures of each one.
Of course, times change and people grow up. I’m still incredibly intrigued by classical mythology, but have since branched out to explore other mythologies. The ancient Romans and the ancient Greeks were not the only civilizations to have their own deities, but many other ancient civilizations did as well. Needless to say, I’ve even started trying to research the old stories of my own background – Filipino folklore is difficult to locate throughout academia, but where there’s a will there’s a way!
However, it was while I was in the middle of my Marvel movie binge that I pulled up good ol’ Wikipedia to read up on Thor’s Norse history. Alas, Wikipedia was only able to temporarily satisfy my curiosity, and so I began to seek other sources of information. From this, my interest in Norse mythology began to flourish, and I discovered Norse Mythology on the bookshelf at Indigo not too long after I had finished my movie marathon, as if the Norse gods reveled in the idea of another lowly human wishing to pay tribute, and led the way for me. I did not actually purchase and read the book until last year (I was going through a lot and didn’t read nearly as much at the time).
I feel it is necessary to point out that mythology isn’t written in flowery prose or with underlying meaning, but it has been translated from an ancient text and subsequently interpreted by experts of these ancient texts, not to mention going through editing and publishing etc. These myths have passed through many hands before reaching our desks, and so it is important to keep the integrity of the stories through straightforward prose, which oftentimes is enough, for the content is overflowing with morals and lessons and sometimes, just comedy.
With that said, Neil Gaiman brings alive the Nordic myths, and I must say, they are truly entertaining. There are many similarities between the deities, but I suppose I find them refreshing because the stories about these deities are different from the adventures of Zeus and his many offspring. I am still relatively new to the Norse mythology world and also new to Gaiman’s writing style. However, Norse Mythology is such a delightful read and took me for a comedic adventure. Mind you, not every story is “comedy”, but Gaiman certainly had me cracking up at certain points (see: excerpt above).
If you’re looking for something fresh, straightforward, and massively entertaining, I would recommend giving Norse Mythology a read. If you find you are caught between books, unsure of what to read next, this book is like a glass of good mead (or bad, if you think Gaiman’s a bad poet, harhar!!).
Do you enjoy mythology? Which ones are your favourite? Leave a comment below!