(cross-posted from the blog Wading Through Electronic Ink)
Jagger is on the verge of being kicked out of university for failure to participate in any of his classes, but he can't really bring himself to care. All he really wants to do is spend time in his dream world, where he coaches a soccer team. But then one night, he finds himself not on the field with his players but on the Norse plain of Vigrid. There the Greek and Norse gods battle each other for supremacy, but since the fighters cannot die, neither side can be victorious. The gods thus set the decision to Jagger, who asks that they tell him the stories of their myths, so that he might judge. But as he learns more about the mythological heroes, he starts to realize how his own life could be improved if he modeled himself after these men of legends.
The layout of Myth Weaver was very interesting. The story alternated between Jagger's life and is dream world in Vigrid, which in turn had stories from the Norse and Greek myths. Jagger saw the stories from different points of view, inhabiting the head of whoever could best tell the story at any given time. This made the retelling of the traditional stories seem more original because instead of just recounting the epic tales, the accounts considered what the people experiencing the events must be feeling.
Experiencing the myths also made Jagger more aware of what was going on around him in the real world. He notices the people around him, how their lives were like the myths and how the myths could help him better understand reality. Listening to the tales of heroes made him realize how afraid he was to do anything and gave him the courage to do something truly brave.
The biggest problem with Myth Weaver is that it's really hard to find Jagger sympathetic. In the beginning of the book, he reminds me of nothing so much as Bartleby the Scrivener. For those of you who were not subjected to the Melville story in high school, it is about a man who refuses to do anything and whose employer doesn't want to fire him and leave him with no resources but also cannot continue to employ someone who does nothing. Jagger is very similar. He goes to university but doesn't participate in anything. He wants to spend all his time in his dream world where he coaches a soccer team. (And where he lives that he goes to university and not college but plays soccer and not football is one of the great mysteries of the world.)
Jagger's lack of willingness to engage with reality at all is compounded by signs that he might at times be hallucinating. At the beginning of the novel, he imagines his aunt as a magpie, and it's hard to tell whether she's a shapechanger or if Jagger has an overactive imagination. Later, in some of the few cases where he does interact with the real world, he believes that Loki or Prometheus have taken over his body and is speaking for him. These lead me to think that Jagger might not just be unwilling to interact with reality but might actually be schizophrenic. And that makes me want him to seek medical help.
As Jagger starts to interact more with the world, he develops a crush on a girl named Tina. Unfortunately, one of the few times he talks to her, he lets Loki take over. And let that be a lesson to all of us: Do not let Loki navigate your love life for you.
The myths also had many tales of romance in them, but they pretty much all end in blood and death.
Will I read more?
I'm pretty sure that Myth Weaver is a stand-alone novel, and I am not sure how I would feel about reading more. Reading about the different myths was cool. Usually when I read mythology, I read the parts about the gods and skip the parts about the heroes. This book definitely made all those stories interesting. But on the other hand, Jagger was really hard to life, as were most of the people in his life. So I think, mostly, Myth Weaver made me want to read more myths rather than more books by the author.