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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good as an introduction to Norse mythology
Most of what we think of when we think of Norse mythology is in the "Prose Edda", a 13th century Icelandic manuscript. In this translation, it consists of 3 parts: a short prologue, the Gylfaginning, and Skaldskaparmal.
The prologue is just a few pages long, and was probably added later. It's inconsistent with the rest and confusing, and best skipped by the...
Published on 18 Aug 2010 by Guardian of the Scales

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not complete
Jesse Byock's translation is nicely readable as far as it goes but it is far from complete. If you want the whole Prose Edda - all three parts and the Prologue - you need the translation by Anthony Faulkes.
Published 22 days ago by Herian


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good as an introduction to Norse mythology, 18 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Most of what we think of when we think of Norse mythology is in the "Prose Edda", a 13th century Icelandic manuscript. In this translation, it consists of 3 parts: a short prologue, the Gylfaginning, and Skaldskaparmal.
The prologue is just a few pages long, and was probably added later. It's inconsistent with the rest and confusing, and best skipped by the first-time reader.
The second part, Gylfaginning, is the real thing. It takes the form of a conversation between Gylfi and three manifestations of Odin. Gylfi questions, and they tell him the whole history of the gods, from the earth's creation out of the body of the giant Ymir, all about the cosmic tree Yggdrasil and the structure of the universe, introductions to each of the gods (Aesir), the death of Balder, Thor's adventures in the land of the giants, how Odin lost his eye, the various schemes of the trickster Loki, right up to the apocalyptic battle of Ragnarok.
Gylfaginning is only 70 pages long, so it's very fast-paced, and very readable.

Skaldskaparmal has more tales of Norse heroes, including the tale that became Wagner's Ring cycle. The narrative thread isn't as strong as Gylfaginning, so it's not as engrossing for the casual reader, but still interesting.

This is an excellent edition. The translation is highly readable, and the introduction is straightforward, clear and comprehensive, aimed at the general reader, rather than the scholar. It also has notes, and an index giving each appearance of each character and place, as it's easy to lose track of some of the strange names. The appendices include a detailed description of the structure of the cosmos according to Norse mythology, and also an illustration showing Yggdrasil and all the worlds surrounding it.

If you're unfamiliar with Norse mythology, you'll be surprised at how accessible this Prose Edda is; it is also stirring, imaginative, and sometimes bawdy and amusing.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Run Through Norse Mythology, 5 Feb 2012
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David Ford "Genre junkie" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
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This work, together with the Elder Edda which covers much of the same material in verse form, comprises the very core of what we know as Norse myth. Often, original sources of this type can be either dry, academic translations or incomprehensible, esoteric hodgepodges. Not so here.

The stories of the Aesir and the mortal heroes they influenced are among some of the exciting and fascinating known to man. Not only a vivid picture of the northern world at that time, they are also simply great tales, with violence, passion, trickery and magic by the bucketload. The characters, from the straightforward, somewhat brutish Thor to the wise, mysterious Odin and the cunning, mischievous Loki are endlessly entertaining in all their many adventures.

This is a great translation, too, sacrificing none of the linguistic complexity of the originals while maximising comprehension. Any confusing parts are explained in (fully hyperlinked) notes; even more usefully, there is a full glossary/index of terms and names at the back, including original spellings and translations of every name. Further appendices offer an overview of the Norse mythology as well; this is a volume that caters for both the long-time nordic scholar or the casual reader.

An essential purchase, then, and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in the myths; start here, and then venture the Elder Edda for the full experience.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!, 9 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I was a complete novice in Norse mythology and this book was amazing... Couldn't put it down!! Now one of my firm favourites...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snorra Edda, in English, 30 Oct 2012
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Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
The Prose Edda, or Snorra Edda, is a wonderful manual for Icelandic poets written at a time when first-hand knowledge of Norse mythology and poetic technique was fading. Alongside long sections on poetic diction, which are included only selectively in this translation, are the most authoritative prose versions of the great mythological stories. Without Snorra Edda, we would have little understanding of the web of story, because the poems themselves are so allusive that many of them are hard to understand without first knowing what they are about.

The Penguin Classics translation is functional rather than inspirational. Even so, its up to date language and conservative translation approach make this the most generally accessible Prose Edda translation I've come across.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting canon in world mythology, 11 May 2013
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YeahYeahNoh (Willenhall, West Midlands) - See all my reviews
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My limited prior knowledge of these stories comes largely from Marvel comics, so I'm no expert.
The middle section is by far the most entertaining, and runs at quite a pace. The way the story is told with questions and answers is interesting, and helps make this quite unique.
I'm glad I read it, and the translation read well without jarring. Others who've reviewed are clearly more knowledgeable than I on the wider themes, but as an interesting introduction to this area of mythology I found this good, and would recommend it to others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From beginnings to end, 4 Jun 2012
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This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Starting from the origins of the gods and the universe, taking us all the way to the final battle of Ragnarok, this is a gripping must read for any mythology fans. The tales of Odin, Loki and especially Thor are enthralling, Tales of frost giants, dwarves, elves, how the rainbow is actually the bridge to Midgar, the giant snake that surrounds the world of middle earth.

And yes, some of these name such as middle earth may sound familiar, that's because Tolkien gained great inspiration for his lord of the rings trilogy from these Norse myths. Written in poetic form it is beautifully read out loud, where you gain the maximum pleasure from poetry.

Filled with maps, genealogy trees and more, this book is a must read for any one that wants to know more of the legend that is Thor.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Starter, 6 Oct 2009
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A. J. Taylor - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
A good translation that does not get bogged down with technicalities. A very good book for someone wanting an overview of the Norse Gods and religion. Well appointed appendices and decent index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not complete, 20 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Jesse Byock's translation is nicely readable as far as it goes but it is far from complete. If you want the whole Prose Edda - all three parts and the Prologue - you need the translation by Anthony Faulkes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient literature, 16 May 2013
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This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
As preparation for a visit to Iceland I bought this book and wished that I had read it sooner as it is essential reading for anyone with an interest in both history and literature. Many writers have been inspired by Norse mythology and it is the source of many types of literature and, indeed, music ( e.g. Wagner's operas ) Although familiar with Nordic myths this particular volume is very readable with good commentaries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a book!, 8 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
If you're into Tolkien, Pratchett, the Eragon books, or anything fantastical, this is the book for you. This, in fact, is the book that started it all. It's all about the history of the Viking gods and their enemies, the Giants. It's composed of lots of little sections, making it easy to dip in and out of. I have very much enjoyed reading this.
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The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) by Jesse L Byock (Paperback - 28 July 2005)
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