Book review - The Penguin Book of Norse Myths
The Penguin Book of Norse Myths - Gods of the Vikings by Kevin Crossley-Holland
The Scandinavian myths form a linked chain of stories, creating a mighty, fantastical world teeming with gods and goddesses, master-smiths and magicians. Battles between gods and giants exist alongside unexpected love matches until the final days of destruction dawn, with their promise of rebirth. Using his talents as poet, translator and author, Kevin Crossley-Holland brings the myths alive. He reveals a dynamic culture in which is reflected the Norseman's spirit and confidence, his ruthlessness and cruelty, arrogance and generosity.
Available on Amazon.com: Penguin Book of Norse Myths
When I first recieved this book I thought it would be like one similarly titled that I'd read before but I was greatly suprised to learn I was wrong. The other book had the more classic and popular myths whereas this book contained prose translations of all the norse myths/legends/sagas taken from Snorri Sturllsons Poetic Edda series. Which of course does contain some of the classics but there were many out of the 35 that I haven't heard let alone read before. And each new myth not only helped me imagine the norse pantheon and norse view of the world to an even better extent than before but it also revealed a few insights into the Gods themselves, their lives and history, their relationships with each other and most notably with their enemies, Giants.
The lengthly introduction at the start of the book does cover a lot of areas albeit in paragraph sized chunks but it does help to read it first, particularly if this is your first delve into norse mythology.
The myths are all entertaining to read although some of the Lay's (where it doesn't feature a God as the main character but somehow involves them such as the Lay of Grimnir) are also interesting as they are examples of how the Norse gods interact with particular mortals, most notably Kings and Princes.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this area as it shows what great imaginations and strong, vivid, powerful beliefs the Vikings as a race had to explain how their world works.
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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