When Gaiman announced his new book based on the Nordic mythology, I was excited. Excited because there is probably no person better to tell tales of fantasy mixed with mythology than Gaiman. His previous works including American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane are a testament to this fact.
When the book was launched in February, I immediately picked up a copy of it. I must admit at the outset that I knew very little about Nordic mythology, and whatever I knew was from the Marvel movies of Thor and Avengers. So, I was quite excited to read how the author would go about weaving his stories which have a factual basis. But in Gaiman’s expert hands, the stories acquire a new dimension, and you get hooked to the book right from the beginning.
Gaiman starts telling his story before everything existed. He tells us how Asgard and the Gods came to be and then introduces us to the central characters of the book-Odin the All-God, Thor the Mighty and Loki the Cunning. He also tells us about the other Gods and Giants who are not well known but are central to Nordic tales like Mimir, who was Odin’s uncle. Gaiman tells us the reason behind Odin’s one eye, about why he is called the Blind God or the One-Eyed God, and that of Loki’s children. He tells us the story of Thor’s hammer and why he needs to swing it with one hand. Gaiman narrates with his characteristic wit how the Gods got their wall, and how in the process Loki was embarrassed.
However, the story that I found the most interesting was about Loki and his children, more so because of the parallels that can be drawn between it and the Harry Potter book. Loki had three children with a female giant, one of which was a wolf named Fenrir and the other was a poisonous snake. To protect themselves from the wolf, the Gods decide to chain him up. While doing this, the wolf bites down on the hand of one of the Gods and thus acquires the traits of a werewolf. This is like the ferocious werewolf in the Potter series, who was also named Fenrir.
Gaiman ends his book with Ragnarok, the foretelling of the world’s end as we know it, where Thor and Loki die, and the birth of a new world. The book is a must read because of the simple and delightful way in which Gaiman tells us almost everything about the Nordic mythology. So, the next time we watch any Marvel movie, we have some background on the stories of the Nordic characters.