I've been on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick lately. I just read The Sandman series for the first time. I just re-read American Gods and I've started on the American Gods comic series. So the release of Norse Mythology was perfect timing. I finally got a chance to sit down and read this, and I was not disappointed.
This really is a collection of short stories, each retelling a story from Norse mythology (obviously, that's the name of the book!). Gaiman gives a great introduction, explaining what drew him into this world and why he wrote this book. Many tales from this era have been lost. As was normal, many of the stories were passed orally from generation to generation. There are gods that we know the names of, but know nothing of their stories. Gaiman went out to bring new life to these stories.
While Gaiman obviously has a strong grasp of the subject matter, it's his story telling that is most important. He just knows how to write a paragraph for a sentence to keep you intrigued. But this book still feels like hearing a tale around the fire. There are lines about Odin whispering a secret, and only he and the listener will ever know what was said. We the read will never know. And that's OK.
These tales start from the beginning, a Norse creation story, and move through the tales of the gods all the way to Ragnarok, the end of the world (and a new beginning). The stories are all short enough to ready in a few minutes, making this a perfect read for someone who may only have a few minutes to read at a time. I've read lots of stories of people picking this up in an airport, and a flight is the perfect setting to read this book.
As a fan of Gaiman, it was clear I was going to read this book and probably enjoy it. But if you've never read anything of his before, this is a great starting point. If you're at all interested in Thor and the other gods (and let's be honest, the Marvel movies have piqued peoples' interest in these characters), then this is a great book to get some of their true backstories. And on that note, maybe Marvel will borrow from some of these stories in the upcoming Thor Ragnarok, giving those of us who know the stories something to squee about during the movie!
You can get your own copy of Norse Mythology here (affiliate link): https://www.amazon.com/Norse-Mythology-Neil-Gaiman/dp/039360909X/?tag=fresnerd-20