My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I just finished this wonderful collection of Norse myths as retold by Neil Gaiman. This is a truly amazing collection of stories about the Norse gods. From Odin and Thor, to Loki, Freya, and all the other gods, this collection covers the broad swath of the Norse mythology from the creation of the universe to the end of days, Ragnarok.
If your only experience with the Norse gods has been the reinterpretations of Thor, Loki, and Odin from the Marvel Cinematic Universe then do yourself a favor and pick up this book. These are not Stan Lee's gods of Asgard. Did you know that Sif is married to Thor? Did you know that Hel is the daughter of Loki, or how Loki plays an important role in Ragnarok? All of these legends are brought to life in the amazing way that only Neil Gaiman can do it.
Through Gaiman's retelling of the old legends (he did a lot of research on the stories and blended some of the legends together to make his own interpretations) I learned a lot about the Norse gods. I learned how Loki, trying to save his own skin, caused the greatest treasures of the gods - including Mjolnir - to be created. I learned about the adventures of Thor and Loki, and how Thor created the tides as part of a drinking contest. One of the biggest things I learned - and it really shouldn't have surprised me - was how much the gods of Asgard were really a bunch of a-holes. They really were. They were bullies and thugs on a good day, and generally did whatever they wanted, slew anybody who ticked them off, and generally acted like they owned the place. Which they did, in a sense. But it is a hard juxtaposition when your only frame of reference for the gods of Asgard has been what the MCU has churned out.
I highly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in mythology, old tales, or just a really good story. And I very much recommend that you get it as an audiobook. (I checked the book out from my local library.) Neil Gaiman, as usual, does a wonderful job of narrating the stories he has crafted. I really can't think of actually "reading" a Gaiman story anymore as having him read to me is so much better.