Neil Gaiman is an author who I know more by name than by his work. Admittedly, I was suspicious that Gaiman might be one of the many fantasy authors who has made successful work in the past and just got a “free-pass” from critics since then.
This begs the question, is Gaiman’s rendition of Norse Mythology worth reading?
Some the the dialogue sounds uncharacteristically modern. While this isn’t a deal-breaker, it would be more appropriate in a comedic reinterpretation of mythology.
I also would have liked to see some of the action scenes fleshed out in greater detail. Many of the fights can be summarized as “Thor swung his hammer and the giants all died.”
Gaiman does a splendid job at making old stories accessible to new readers. Norse mythology is filled with many characters with unusual names and paradoxical magical powers. Gaiman is able to render Norse myths as they are, with all the mature aspects, while still making them accessible to audiences who only know Thor from the comics. Norse Mythology is complex and can drastically pivot between comedy and tragedy. Gaiman’s rendition of each myth in chronological order concludes spectacularly with Ragnarok.
Neil Gaiman isn’t past his prime–in fact he might be making a comeback. Gaiman is set to lead a Sandman Universe Line of comics for DC and a Sherlock Holmes vs Lovecraftian lore comic for Dark Horse. If you’re a long-time Gaiman fan or are new to his work, Norse Mythology is an epic, entertaining, and informative addition to your bookshelf. The paperback edition with cover-art by Victo Nagai is in stores now.