The book starts with an introduction from Gaiman talking to us about how his liking to Norse Mythology was sparked. We hear about Thor and Loki from Marvel Comics and Gaiman's research thereon after reading about them.
He tells us how the mythology differs from what we see in the comics and prepares us for the storytelling we're about to embark on with him.
Immediately I felt excited that he made that connection (considering we are Superhero Jacked), and looked forward to learning the true backgrounds and mythology of these characters I already love.
I guess he did a good job in the intro.
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After the intro we begin getting stories, as promised, from Gaiman. These stories, as he told us in the introduction, come chronologically.
(If it wasn't for the chronological order bringing the entire novel together my rating would likely be lower.)
The first few stories start off feeling quite slow. Storytelling, but lacking something due to what I think is lack of dialogue.
You learn of the beginnings. You hear of Odin and how he came to be and stories of his journey, and even how he lost his eye.
Slow, but very interesting it eventually brings us to our first [longer] story containing Thor, Loki, Odin and a mix of other gods and characters.
This is where the book really picks up in my opinion, and the slow start seems to have been quick, purposeful, interesting, and necessary. That first 40-50 page is a very quick read, looking back at it, and my initial complaints were soon overturned by praise for giving me the roots of the stories Gaiman is telling.
The story you reach, called "THE TREASURES OF THE GODS" involves, as I said, Odin, Thor, and Loki, but also Eitri, dwarf and creator of the Mjollnir (spelt with one my L than we are used to in Marvel's version). And, awesomely enough, that is the story we are told. How Thor got his hammer. We also see Sif, Thor's wife, receive her golden hair, and Heimdall get spoken of, and I can't help but think of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Peter Dinklage, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins throughout the duration of the story.
I also love seeing that Loki is still just as mischievous and witty as usual. (Honestly even more-so than I thought. Loki really made the book come alive at points, and is one of the main reasons for a higher rating than I was initially giving.)
After finishing the book, the story I mentioned above actually stayed as one of my favorites, with the runner-up being "THE MEAD OF POETS". I especially liked Gaiman's little joke at the end of this one.
Normally, if I was buying a book of stories (most recently I read Stephen King's Bazaar of Bad Dreams) I would be reading another book while occasionally reading a short story from that book in between.
I suppose this layout could have enabled me to do that, but it was different because I wanted to be able to remember the specifics of each story to find the contradictions Gaiman warns us of (and because of the chronological order).
I'm actually a huge fan of medieval studies, vikings, and mythology. History was part of my degree at SBU and medieval studies was my specialization. Plus, Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Knightfall are some of my favorite shows on television.
So this was unique and interesting for me, but just not something I was constantly dying to pick up.
The stories were told as tales. (I'm sure there's a better way at describing that, but at times it was like it could have been read to children aloud?) This also felt to me as though I was losing Gaiman's voice and just reading a mythological retelling that could be told by anyone. I tried to envision myself sitting around a fire with my Viking friends, Gaiman there with me speaking, but it just didn't do it for me. I generally like to read fiction of a new world created, similar to Gaiman's American Gods!
At that same take, it wasn't just "good" (likely because of my strong feelings towards Norse Mythology), which gives it the 3.5 rating over the 3.
I'm curious to see what you guys have to think!
My next read will be Vicious (V.E. Schwab's Villain Series, AKA a Superhero take on Magneto and Professor X) if you'd like to keep up with what I'm reading.
Please share your thoughts and keep the Book Club Discussion going in the comment section below!
Overall fun read. Loved Loki's portrayal, and I love Norse Mythology. I had a love hate relationship with the short story format. It made it a fun and quick read, but I also don't really like the format. Also generally prefer brand new world building and deeper, lengthier character building.
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