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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange and disturbing stories we think we know.
Adult retelling of stories we think we know from the surviving original sources. Reading Crossley-Holland's book is like reading the real Grimm's Fairy Tales -- they are much stranger and more disturbing than you remember from the kiddie show about Thor and his hammer. The Aesir are a doomed race of flawed, violent, sometimes cruel but ultimately heroic gods. Odin is...
Published on 14 April 1998

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Coverage of Nordic Sagas
The Penguin Book of Norse Myths re-tells a range of the myths emerging out of northern Europe and famously recorded in the sagas. With the Gods as primary characters - Loki, Odin, Thor, Freyja etc - the tales are an insight into a long expired culture that held storytelling in high esteem. Crossley-Holland prefaces his story cyle with a thorough introduction and the...
Published on 29 April 2009 by MLA


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange and disturbing stories we think we know., 14 April 1998
By A Customer
Adult retelling of stories we think we know from the surviving original sources. Reading Crossley-Holland's book is like reading the real Grimm's Fairy Tales -- they are much stranger and more disturbing than you remember from the kiddie show about Thor and his hammer. The Aesir are a doomed race of flawed, violent, sometimes cruel but ultimately heroic gods. Odin is not always a benevolent father, but also is obsessed with knowledge and willing to kill, deceive and suffer intensely to get it. Freya is not only a war-goddess but a kind of personification of sex. The stories cover the building of Asgard, an ur-War between the Aesir and the ultimately allied Vanes, struggles between the gods and the Frost Giants, the mischief and ultimately evil of Loki, and an array of malevolent dwarves and monsters with names like Niddhog (the worm that gnaws the root of the world-tree Yggdrasil, Fenris the wolf of the end of the world. Incidentally, Tolkien got many of the names of his characters from the sources. Highly recommended.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review of the 'Norse myths', 2 Mar 2005
The author retells the beautiful and colorful Norse mythology in an organized way which in it, it is comfortable to follow the development of the story and without losing in sense of Myth in the translation.
The many stories of that mythology are wonderful and capture the reader in the magical world of the Gods fighting against the giants and trying to keep their grip as rulers until the unavoidable Ragnarok.
The author also made good notes of each story which explains the story's origin and the introduction at the beginning of the book is very interesting and explains a lot about the Norse world and the development of its Mythology through the hundreds of years.
I recommend this book very much to the fans of this kind of literature, the Norse mythology is just fascinating and full of cleverness and humor.
Tal Katz.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cultural treasure, 7 April 2010
By 
Amazon Customer "Jeremy" (Wiltshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is a beautifully collected chunk of deep north european culture. The stories are great and funny, kevin c-h's prose is sharp and interesting.

Many people are drawn to greek myth and to native american stories of creation, or of the trickster coyote. It seems a real shame to have read these stories but to have missed core norse myths, which have been told on our land, right here, for millenia. the creation story is weird and magnificent, the end of days is always waiting there, with the release of the wolf fenrir and the death of the gods. loki is a tricky and cunning god, causing mayhem and getting out of scrapes. the details of the gods are exquisite - freyja, goddess of fertility, also goes to war in her chariot drawn by two cats, accompanied by her magical boar, and has a cloak of feathers that allow her (or loki) to fly anywhere. it is a rich source for the imagination, particularly as many of the tales are lost and some of the characters are there, but undeveloped (or developed in other stories). there is a wonderful open-endedness to many of the stories.

These stories, along with the celtic myths, are deeper and closer to people on these islands than the greeks or the judaic stories. Yet deeply neglected. And I think they are a much more fun read than achilles' sulking and slaughtering in the iliad. give me loki, heimdall, or cu chullain any day. (though i could never give up odysseus!)

On a more concrete note the stories are fun, very readable and the notes are an absolute blessing. You don't need the notes to get the story (I often can't understand shakespeare without flicking to the commentary) as they are so well written. But if anyone has ever tried to read the older / poetic edda in the raw, you will find these adaptations, and the notes, a huge relief.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-have reference., 4 Jan 2006
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Finally I've found it: the book of tales of Odin, and Thor, and Bifrost, and Ragnarok! What a pleasure to read the tales that inspired so much of the world's fantasy literature! Here you'll find the background stories behind and the likes of Beowulf, the Nibelungenlied or the Volsungs' Saga, and obviously the roots of Professor Tolkien's own Middle-Earth mythology, so numerous are the similarities.
Not only are the thirty-two myths comprised in this translation very well told and captivating, but the introduction and notes are very complete and interesting, not to mention the very practical glossary and index. I haven't read Snorri Sturluson's Edda so I can't compare, but I'm pretty sure Kevin Crossley-Holland's is one of the best reference books on the subject, a must-have on one's shelf.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable in the study of Norse Mythology., 11 Feb 1999
By A Customer
I bought this book as a part of an analysis of Norse Mythology, and found it more than useful. Not only does the author show the myths in a new light, but also includes and in-depth background of each myth and an informatve introduction. The bibliography has seperate headings for each topic of research, and the glossary is useful for those who have trouble keeping track of the often confusing names.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes to Norse!, 22 Dec 2010
I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this book; it's one of those rare instances when you devour every word on the page before moving on to the next. Though one or two of the stories are presented as a 'lay' which involves a lot of repetition, the style and dialogue contained within carries you along. The collection opens with the 'Norse Creation Theory' which is fairly trippy and may not be for everyone, but chapters rapidly progress towards Thor smashing the skulls of enormous giants. There are also continuous and recurring references to a larger story arc involving Loki and approaching Ragnarok (apocalypse) and overall the collection is very well paced.

This all comes with an in-depth and indispensable glossary at the back, and a great introduction to the main themes and concepts of the myths.

Before I purchased this book, I had VERY limited knowledge of Norse mythology - for the most part I thought it sounded cool and interesting, but knew very little detail - but I've now come away with a huge sense of understanding and enjoyment. Honestly, if you are like me and were going back-and-forth on whether to buy this edition or not, do it. You won't regret it.
The best description I have in my 'word hoard' (as Thor would say)for it is 'awesome'!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting., 22 July 2002
This book taught me how to take an insult (like Thor ignore it- usually!) and reaffirmed the importance of courage. The Gods in these myths are closer to the Greeks ones than the Christians: their vices and virtues, their pettiness and greatness, however, it is all good fun and well worth a look. If you are a more serious student of Norse myths then the original Icelandic epics would, I imagine, be more worthwhile as all the tales are plucked from that tree.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best resource of Viking Legend, 13 Mar 2000
By 
Matthew Channell (Poole, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is easily the best tome of Norse mythology that you can buy. It tells each tale with gusto and offers interesting commentary and a superb glossary of Gods, Giants and sundry characters.
Don't hesitate buy it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent retelling of the Norse myths, 30 Dec 1998
By A Customer
If you are looking for the best retelling of the myths available, with the grim humor and wisdom of these Norwegian tales intact, look no further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Epic, Mythical Entertainment., 10 Dec 2013
By 
Glenn Cook (South Cave, near Hull UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Norse Myths (Paperback)
I guess like many children who grew up in the 60's I was read the old tales of the Vikings by enthusiastic teachers with the class sat on the mat listening to them.
This would be at the end of the day.

That of course is how the tales would have been told when the stories originated.
Orally.
Around an open fire inside the great meeting hut read to by the story teller who always got the best seat next to the fire to borrow a John Hurt Phrase.
Noggin the Nog followed- later a few Viking Pictures- The Long Ships with Tony Curtis with perhaps a sprinkling of Richard Greene's Robin Hood. We were hooked.

Then we come to this volume by Kevin Crossley-Holland and it is really wonderful.
All the tales are there plus a whole lot more and the adult versions to boot.
The symbolism of the gods of Asgard and what they stood for is quite amazing and what they got up to likewise, especially the goddesses.
This that wonderful thing.
A Book that entertains and educates at the same time.
Kevin Crossley-Holland has a good style and these old tales and myths get a really good retelling.

The cover by Hannah Firman deserves a mention too it is wonderful.
A fine edition to anyone who loves Norse Mythology's shelf- reference or otherwise.
Mine is next to Robert Graves the Greek Myths.
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