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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a collection of short stories based on, you guessed it, Norse myths. Neil Gaiman, a wonderful Sci fi fantasy novelist known for dabbling in myths of all cultures, reworks classic tales from Scandinavian lore in beautifully crafted fairytale-like images and thoroughly entertaining prose. It's the rare work that is really for a universal reading level. Middle grade, young adults, and adults can all pick this up for themselves, or it could even be read aloud to young ones who like Thor, Loki and the other Norse gods. It's also great for people who enjoyed American Gods by Neil Gaiman (or any of his others for that matter), Beowulf, Mort d'Arthur, or The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.

I have always loved Thor across mediums. He's my favorite Avenger in the Marvel universe--where I'm sure most recognize him now--as well as in the original mythology. He is this noble, strong character with a warriors heart, yet he is adorably not the brightest star in the sky. Loki certainly brings it out in him particularly with his witty pranks and smart-assery, yet Thor prevails in the most honorable ways he knows. One of my favorite stories centers around Thor, naturally, when he wakes to his hammer Mjollnir stolen. The thief, an ogre from the realm of giants, demands the goddess Freya's hand in marriage in exchange for Mjollnir. This is the best solution that all the gods of Asgard could muster:

They called a gathering of all the gods in the great hall. Every god and goddess was there except Freya, who declined to leave her house.

All day they talked, debated, and argued. There was no question that they needed to get Mjollnir back, but how? Each god and goddess made a suggestion, and each suggestion was shot down by Loki.

In the end only one god had not spoken: Heimdall, the far-seeing, who watches over the world. Not one thing happens that Heimdall does not see, and sometimes he sees events that have yet to occur in the world.

"Well?" Said Loki. "What about you, Heimdall? Do you have any suggestions?"

"I do," said Heimdall. "But you won't like it."

Thor banged his fist down upon the table. "it does not matter whether or not we like it," he said. "We are gods! There is nothing that any of us gathered here would not do to get back Mjollnir, the hammer of the gods. Tell us your idea, and if it is a good idea, we will like it."

"You won't like it," said Heimdall.

"We will like it!" And Thor.

"Well," said Heimdall, "I think we should dress Thor as a bride. Have him put on the necklace of the Brisings. Have him wear a bridal crown. Stuff his dress so he looks like a woman. Veil his face. We'll have him wear keys that jingle, as women do, drape him with jewels--"

"I don't like it!" Said Thor. "People will think... well, for a start they'll think I dress up in women's clothes. Absolutely out of the question. I don't like it. I am definitely not going to be wearinga bridal veil. None of us like this idea, do we? Terrible, terrible idea. I've got a beard. I can't shave off my beard."

"Shut up, Thor," said Loki son of Laufey. "It's an excellent idea. If you don't want the giants to invade Asgard, you will put on a wedding veil, which will hide your face—and your beard."

Odin the all-highest said, "It is indeed an excellent idea. Well done, Heimdall. We need the hammer back, and this is the best way. Goddesses, prepare Thor for his wedding night."(pg 115-116)

Between it selling well at the bookstore, multiple recommendations (like I need that for a Gaiman work!) and the thrill of the Neil Gaiman event at Paramount Theater back in November 2018, I HAD to read Norse Mythology. Neil Gaiman is an absolute artist. All of his books are so well written and thought through that you would think he'd have trouble topping his own previous works, even his children's works. He doesn't. If you haven't read one of his books do it already, even if you aren't a huge sci-fi fantasy reader. He has a unique ability to create these intriguing worlds that offer so much to the reader than just a fun plot or a lovable character. They are all encompassing of what a great book should be, and this is no exception.

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