Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Thoroughly interesting and accessible
on 18 April 2011
Sometimes it can be difficult to find information collected together in an easily accessible form regarding the Norse Gods, yet these particular deities need to be considered and studied in relation to each other. Their relationships are complex to say the least, and the intricate weaving of meaning into their forms directly from Scandinavian culture needs to be highlighted more often than it is.
In "The Gods of the Vikings" Marion Pearce has done a good job of providing this. Using the days of the week as the context and structure of the book, she examines the Norse Gods, their myths, their worship in ancient times, their meaning for the Scandinavians, and also what they mean for today's Asatru worshiper. The first section of the book looks at the days of the week themselves, providing an excellent background full of interesting information about how the days got their names, when, and where. It also touches upon subjects such as hours and calendars in the ancient world, which proved fascinating reading! Part 2, "Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Christian Worldviews" offers the reader the cultural contexts that these deities are found in, including the relationship and interplay between Pagan and Christian in that era. I was delighted to read this section, as I often find books on mythology completely ignoring the cultural contexts. Part 3 takes us through some of the eschatological and chronological ideas and beliefs held by the Norse, including Ragnarok and ideas of the beginning of the world. Again, this served to provide context, but also gives the reader an idea of how the Scandinavians viewed time and how their Gods fit into that chronological universe.
Part 4 is the main bulk of the book, and explores the myths and personalities of the Norse deities through the days of the week. Starting with Sunday and ending with Saturday, this section is full of snippets of sagas and epics and the Eddas, with descriptions of the Gods and their worship. It also details how they became linked with the days of the week, how their names have become used in modern parlance, and delves into comparisons between Norse and other mythologies. This was a great way to organize an examination of the Norse Gods, and it made "The Gods of the Vikings" into a book that was easy to pick up and enjoy a section, then put aside for a while before returning.
Finally, the Appendix looks at the bigger chronological picture: it gives us information about the Norse and Anglo-Saxon festivals of the year, and how they were originally celebrated. This section is short but interesting, and is a great start for any research into such events.
"Gods of the Vikings" has interesting information scattered throughout, and I found myself learning new things on each page. I especially found the Anglo-Saxon and Viking place names and their links to the Norse Gods of great interest. This book is a great place to start for anybody interested in studying or worshiping the Norse Gods, and is also a good source for original source materials for those who are already knowledgeable on the matter and looking to further their understanding. Illustrated throughout by artist Emily Carding, "The Gods of the Vikings" is also visually appealing, offering the reader conceptual images of the deities studied to accompany the information.
A thoroughly interesting read, easily accessible, and a great introduction to the Norse Gods and their myths.