Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
A cultural treasure
on 7 April 2010
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.