Here are two volumes about Norse mythology, very different in style and approach.

(The Viking Archive)

Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology (Bloomsbury, 2017), ISBN 9781408886809. Paperback.

Gaiman’s prose endears him to so many readers of all ages. In this book he reflects the no-nonsense prose of the medieval Icelandic sagas. Snappy in a good way, funny, and with a crisp style. The gods come alive in the dialogues and actions. One can read between the lines how much knowledge and understanding he has of the original stories in the Edda. Gaiman steers you safely through the many motifs and details, you simply can’t get lost. My verdict: must read.

Neil Gaiman on his book: Youtube.

(The Viking Archive)

A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok (Canongate Books, 2011), ISBN 9781847678430. Paperback.

Byatt’s style is more descriptive, sometimes with complex sentences. The story is more complex, too. This is not only a retelling of the gods’ adventures. Here is a young girl struggling with questions about Norse mythology and Christianity, trying to answer them with experiences in her daily, war-time life. The tension this creates just makes you want to finish the book. Craftsmanship features in every chosen word and sentence. My verdict: beautiful.

A.S. Byatt on her book: BBC.

It’s not a question of choosing between the two. Read both.

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