Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


25 Critic Reviews

Superb. Just the thing for the literate fantasy lover and the student of comparative religion and mythology alike.


“Remarkable.… Gaiman has provided an enchanting contemporary interpretation of the Viking ethos.”—Lisa L. Hannett, Atlantic

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.


About Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman is the nationally bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, the only book ever to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie Medals. He lives near Minneapolis, MN. You can visit him online at Reaves is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and novelist who has written, story-edited, or produced nearly four hundred teleplays for various series. He lives in California. You can visit him online at
Published February 7, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. 304 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, History. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Feb 26 2017
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Norse Mythology
All: 25 | Positive: 21 | Negative: 4


on Nov 22 2016

Superb. Just the thing for the literate fantasy lover and the student of comparative religion and mythology alike.

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Publishers Weekly

on Apr 12 2016

Like John Gardner in Grendel, a classic retelling of Beowulf, and Philip Pullman in his rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen stories, Gaiman takes a well-worn subject and makes it his own.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Lidia Yuknavitch on May 15 2017

His hope is that readers will feel compelled to retell these stories. He doesn’t mention something else, but I can hear it in his voice, something we could all use a little more of just now, in the dark: delight.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Douglas Wolk on Feb 02 2017

For admirers of his fiction, it's the equivalent of going to see a rock band you like and finding that they're just playing a set of Chuck Berry covers that night: great material, yes, and executed nicely, but less than the inventiveness we go to him for.

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AV Club

Reviewed by Bill Jones on Feb 06 2017 Norse tales have not received quite the same attention as, say, the Greek myths, it is nice to see someone passing these stories along to inspire another generation.

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20Something Reads

Reviewed by Pauline Finch on Feb 07 2017

Without distorting the long and tangled roots of Nordic mythology, Gaiman reveals lively nuances that reconnect these stories to our 21st-century world --- from the humor of Thor disguising himself as a ridiculously hairy the unintentionally timely episode in which Odin decides to build a wall to keep out invading giants.

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Reviewed by Alex Brown on Feb 07 2017

Like Oceans at the End of the Lane, Norse Mythology makes a stunning and welcoming entry for newcomers. It is quite simply a breathtaking novel that is as matchless as the Norse gods themselves.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by John Collee on Mar 02 2017

These Norse myths, by contrast, often seem a little lacking depth. For all Gaiman's talent, the brew is missing something – perhaps more input from a historian with a more profound understanding of pre-Christian Scandinavian culture. That may be a personal quibble...

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Deseret News

Reviewed by Ben Tullis on Mar 30 2017

With “Norse Myths,” Gaiman masterfully weaves the tales of the Asgardians in a novel format that perfectly balances informing and educating readers about Norse mythology while still providing the immersive writing that his previous readers have come to expect.

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Above average
Reviewed by Tom Szaroleta on Feb 19 2017

...simply retells it, with little or no embellishment or polishing. That may sound like lazy regurgitation – and that charge might not be unfair – but that’s all that is really needed here. The stories, told here in easy-to-digest 10- to 20-page bites, have managed to hang around for thousands of years, so clearly they didn’t need a lot of help...

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Fantasy Literature

Reviewed by MARION DEEDS on Apr 18 2017

Readers who like Gaiman and know a little or a lot of Norse mythology will enjoy this book, and I think it would make a good introduction for people who don’t know much and want to learn. Despite a lot of humor (much comes from the original stories) Gaiman is not diminishing these stories...

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Library Journal

Above average
Reviewed by Barbara Hoffert on Aug 08 2016

Doubtless a terrific book that fans of both Gaiman and Norse mythology will want to devour, but is it fiction or mythology? Actually, it’s BISACed as both, though fiction does lead in the coding.

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The Australian

Above average
Reviewed by RONNIE SCOTT on Mar 18 2017

With its chronological structure drawing the reader towards this inevitable ending, the world of the gods always feels sweet and rich, half-remembered even as you’re reading it. They read like troubled people who once roamed the earth.

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The Spectator

Above average
Reviewed by JOANNE HARRIS on Feb 04 2017

...the myths I loved as a child can be passed to a new generation, to be reinvented anew. For stories that cannot be retold are destined to be forgotten; and every generation must rediscover these myths for themselves, and take from them whatever they need.

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Spectrum Culture

Reviewed by John L. Murphy on Feb 12 2017

” A piddling pair outwitted flail in a rowboat “like a couple of bearded lobsters.” Such imagery and control show Gaiman’s affection for his material.

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The Hindu

Reviewed by Geeta Doctor on Mar 18 2017

For lovers of ancient myths Neil Gaiman’s re-telling of the tales from the Icelandic sagas is a call to arms. It’s a warning blast from Gaiman’s silver trumpet of folklore and legend.

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The Verge

Reviewed by Andrew Liptak on Feb 15 2017

For those newer entrants into the mythic world, Norse Mythology is a wonderful introduction. It connects all of the major players and worlds of the Norse, and spins them out in a format that’s far less daunting than my century-old book of epic poetry.

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Below average
Reviewed by Ursula K Le Guin on Mar 29 2017

What finally left me feeling dissatisfied is, paradoxically, the pleasant, ingratiating way in which he tells it. These gods are not only mortal, they’re a bit banal. They talk a great deal, in a conversational tone that descends sometimes to smart-ass repartee.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Zane Schwartz on Feb 17 2017

Ultimately, this is a careful and rather lovely retelling of stories that have underpinned Western literature since at least the 13th century. The prose is lively, the details are vivid and the characters – well, there’s a reason we’re still retelling their stories after 800 years.

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Financial Times

Reviewed by James Lovegrove on Feb 14 2017

In reinterpreting the tales so faithfully and with such abundant joy, Gaiman assumes the role of fireside bard, inviting us to sit close on a chilly winter’s night and chuckle and wonder along with him.

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Fantasy Faction

Above average
Reviewed by Eric Christensen on Feb 28 2017

There may not be many lessons to be learned, but I think readers will have quite a lot of fun spending time with these stories and these characters.

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Reviewed by Ray Olson on Dec 15 2016

...Gaiman’s retelling of these ever-striking and strange stories should be every reader’s first book of Norse mythology.

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on Feb 08 2017

It’s all immense fun, of course, and just about the only downside is that the fun ends too soon. If you place this book alongside Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, which was hefty and substantial, you can’t help but wish Gaiman had got stuck into roughly the same amount of stories...

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Reviewed by Jonathan Hatfull on Feb 07 2017

Readers may be familiar with these stories, but we’re always excited to return to the nine worlds, and especially in the hands of a storyteller like Gaiman, they are an absolute treat.

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Reviewed by Timothy on Mar 24 2017

If you’ve not listened to the Norse myths before, this is a funny, approachable, and sadly brief introduction. If you’re familiar with the stories already, but would like to see a master storyteller try his arm at a recitation, then it’s marvelous.

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