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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Norse Myths: A guide to the gods and heroes

Norse Myths A Guide to the Gods and Heroes - Carolyne Larrington

My first dip into Norse Mythology was Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythologywhich, to my mind, was the perfect introduction.  This book was an excellent next-step - a little bit more in-depth, a little more of an academic bent, without being dry or boring.

 

Larrington gets off to the best possible start by including, on the very first page, a pronunciation guide to Old Norse, covering the extra letters of 'eth (ð)' and 'thorn (þ)', as well as the various diphthongs, æ, ö and ø.  I immediately bookmarked this page, because I referred back to it a lot.  Having given the reader this guide, Larrington then proceeds to refer to the gods and heroes by their original Old Norse/Icelandic names/spellings, so Thor is þórr; Odin is Óðinn.  This authenticity might annoy some readers, but I appreciated the exercise - hopefully some of it will stick now that I've used it for 200+ pages.

 

The layout of the chapters is as close to chronological order as is possible.  Larrington uses the first chapter to discuss her main sources, and then goes on with the creation of the world, the order of the gods and giants, the heroes, ragnorök, and the rebirth of the world.  Interspersed throughout are the myths that Gaiman's readers will recognise, as well as a fair few more, with a bit of commentary as to the historical background, modern day evidence, and a nod to the possible motivations and bias of Snorri Sturluson, the author of the Prose Edda, the earliest known written form of the Norse myths.  

 

At only a little over 200 pages, this book is short on the commentary and long on the myths, so it's likely not aimed at someone with a-better-than-beginner knowledge of Norse mythology.  There are also a generous number of illustrations and photographs (b/w) sprinkled throughout the text, showing images through the ages that illustrate the various myths.

 

All in all a delightful resource for me, and an engrossing way to while away a cold and windy afternoon snuggled up on the couch with the cats.

 

(Read for Booklikes-opoly square #32, The Nordic Express)