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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 4 January 2006
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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on 11 April 2014
Covers the Norse Myths in a clear and readable fashion. Unlike some other books however there is not too much analysis and history behind the Myths, but this is irrelevant if you just want to read/know the Myths.
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on 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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on 11 February 1999
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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on 6 February 2017
This is practically along the lines of what you might expect from a Penguin collection of myths. It’s a simple retelling of the various core myths rewritten by the author for a modern audience and presented in a chronological way that leads to the ‘end of the world’ tale of Ragnarok. This makes for an easily accessible start to exploring such a fascinating mythology.

There is no substantial effort at historical or anthropological analysis. Most of this is dealt with fairly efficiently and bluntly in the introduction. This introduction manages to be quite informative despite its brevity and serves its purpose in providing a necessary background to place the following myths in some sort of perspective to the Norse world and the wider world around it. You will need to look elsewhere for something more in depth.

The author has derived each of his retellings from the various sources from whence the myths have come down to us from what was originally an oral tradition. Thus the author’s offerings are probably assembled in a way reminiscent to those used as the main sources. Snorri, for example, writing himself of a past era he was divorced from must have utilised a similar practice in compiling his Edda.

Each myth comes with accompanying notes. Rather than as footnotes, these are separated from the main text and put in their own section afterwards. They are fairly basic and mainly concentrate upon what sources the author used, how he has utilised them and, just as importantly, which ones he has chosen to omit.
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on 5 March 2016
Kevin Crossley-Holland is a poet-scholar; this is a gritty spare prose re-telling of the Norse myths as if each chapter were part of a unified arcing cycle of Viking cosmology. But his Introductory material and thorough end-Notes show him to be a formidable historian and cultural anthropologist as well, steeped in this era and its literature. As a 10-year-old I was introduced to the world of the Vikings by the wonderful Roger Lancelyn-Green, but I think Kevin Crossley-Holland speaks beautifully to that age-group as well as to the adult. I recommend finding publisher Andre Deutsch's hardback edition which features delightful wood-cut-style illustrations of Norse art throughout. Here's his start of the Marriage of Njord and Skadi: "Beyond the girdle of flint-grey water and the loveless lava flows, beyond the burning blue crevasses, lay Thrymheim, the storm-home of Skadi....". As thoroughly recommended as his translations from "The Anglo-Saxon World".
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on 10 December 2015
love it! thank you! lots of great reading over christmas to be done!!! I'm looking forward to it!
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on 25 August 2014
This is a brilliant book ! I enjoyed the introduction and the way it set the scene explaining the back ground and specific points of interest relating to these age old myths. Really an excellent book and especially so for those with a Northern European background. I am thoroughly enjoying each story. An excellent buy!
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on 16 October 2016
A wonderful collection of norse myths, adapted in a very engaging style.

The norse myths can often be overwhelming, filled as they are with a plethora of unusual names and places, written in a very purple prose. This author has managed to adapt the stories and simplify them to the point that they become accessible and enjoyable, but without oversimplifiying to the point of being childlike.

Crossley-Holland has also included a lot of notes and reference material, which helps to place the stories in a historical context and to explain their place in the nordic civilisations.
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on 22 December 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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