The best books if you came to Norse mythology via Marvel comics

Why am I passionate about this?

Like Neil Gaiman, I came to Norse mythology via the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Marvel comics route. And when I explored the material further I was struck by the darkness and unsanitised oddity of many of the stories. They clearly reflected the Vikings’ view of the world as a cold, hostile, sometimes absurd place that must be met with a strong arm and a hearty laugh if one is to survive not only physically but mentally. There’s something refreshingly honest about such an approach, and when I came to write the third novel in my Pantheon series, The Age of Odin, which recast the myths as a modern military-SF thriller, I leaned heavily into the aspects I found the most appealing as well as the most dramatic, not least the snowy apocalypse that is Ragnarök, while injecting some appropriately ribald humour too.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Age of Odin

What is my book about?

The Norse gods fight alongside mankind in a battle to hold back Ragnarök. Gideon Coxall was a good soldier but bad at everything else until a roadside explosive device leaves him with one deaf ear and a British Army half-pension. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project, it's like a dream come true. They're recruiting former service personnel for excellent pay, no questions asked, to take part in unspecified combat operations. The last thing Gid expects is to find himself fighting alongside ancient Viking gods. The world is in the grip of one of the worst winters it has ever known, and Ragnarök - the fabled final conflict of the Sagas - is looming.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths

James Lovegrove Why did I love this book?

Originally titled Norse Gods and Giants, for many people this book will have been their first exposure to Norse mythology. It may be aimed at children, from the plain, precise text by Norwegian-born Ingri D’Aulaire to the vivid, earthy pencil illustrations by her Swiss-born husband, but the telling of the tales is wonderfully rambunctious and has an all-ages appeal.

By Ingri D'Aulaire, Edgar Parin D'Aulaire,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Caldecott medal-winning d'Aulaires once again captivate their young audience with this beautifully illustrated introduction to Norse legends, telling stories of Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki the mischievous god of the Jotun Race, and Ragnarokk, the destiny of the gods. Children meet Bragi, the god of poetry, and the famous Valkyrie maidens, among other gods, goddesses, heroes, and giants. Illustrations throughout depict the wondrous other world of Norse folklore and its fantastical Northern landscape.


Book cover of Thor: Tales Of Asgard

James Lovegrove Why did I love this book?

This series of short back-up strips in the 1960s Thor comic from Marvel retold and embellished on the myths in characteristically bombastic Lee/Kirby fashion. While Thor himself, in the main feature, battled costumed supervillains in contemporary New York, the supporting feature dealt with his youth, his allies and enemies in Asgard itself and the rest of the Nine Realms, and a whole host of sorcerers, witches, and grotesque monsters. Kirby in particular seemed enthused by the project and it shows in his artwork.

By Jack Kirby, Stan Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Never has Thor been more sensational than during these early tales, crafted by Marvel's greatest, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Re-live Stan and Jack's stories of the Norse Gods and Thor before he came to Earth as Don Blake. Witness as these masters breathe life into the thunder god. Read these stories as never before with all-new, modern coloring and six interlocking covers by Olivier Coipel.

Collecting:

Thor: Tales of Asgard by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby #1-6


Book cover of Norse Mythology

James Lovegrove Why did I love this book?

Gaiman’s love of Norse mythology was sparked when he discovered the aforementioned Tales of Asgard as a boy. He has incorporated elements of the myths in his fiction, from Sandman to American Gods, and with this book took it upon himself to re-present the stories in his own laid-back, laconic style, relishing in their vivacity and sheer strangeness. An unusually perspicacious reviewer – one James Lovegrove, in the Financial Times – gave the following assessment: "In reinterpreting the tales so faithfully and with such abundant joy, Gaiman assumes the role of fireside bard, inviting us to sit close on a chilly winter’s night and chuckle and wonder along with him.”

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Norse Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin's son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki-son of a giant-blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the…


Book cover of The Prose Edda

James Lovegrove Why did I love this book?

This is the primary source for the myths, culled by 13th-century poet Sturluson, and it spans everything from the creation of the Nine Realms to their ultimate destruction during Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods. There is a sense of struggle and doom throughout the saga, interspersed with moments of light relief, and anyone whose exposure to characters such as Thor and Odin comes only from the Marvel movies may be surprised at how dumb and brutish the former is here, and how fierce and forbidding the latter.

By Snorri Sturluson, Jesse L. Byock (translator),

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Prose Edda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source of Norse mythology

Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, The Prose Edda tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. In prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda shows the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring works…


Book cover of Gods and Myths of Northern Europe

James Lovegrove Why did I love this book?

This is less about the myths themselves and more about the culture that spawned them. Ellis Davidson’s analysis of Nordic pre-Christian religion is sober but accessible, and comparisons are made with other contemporary belief systems such as the Celts’ and the ancient Britons’. The book nicely ties together the disparate tales much as the world tree, Yggdrasil, is said to have tied together the Nine Realms.

By H.R. Ellis Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods and Myths of Northern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Surveys the pre-Christian beliefs of the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples. Provides an introduction to this subject, giving basic outlines to the sagas and stories, and helps identify the charachter traits of not only the well known but also the lesser gods of the age.


You might also like...

Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

Book cover of Let Evening Come

Yvonne Osborne Author Of Let Evening Come

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a family farm surrounded by larger vegetable and dairy operations that used migrant labor. From an early age, my siblings and I were acquainted with the children of these workers, children whom we shared a school desk with one day and were gone the next. On summer vacations, our parents hauled us around in a station wagon with a popup camper, which they parked in out-of-the-way hayfields and on mountainous plateaus, shunning, much to our chagrin, normal campgrounds, and swimming pools. Thus, I grew up exposed to different cultures and environments. My writing reflects my parents’ curiosity, love of books and travel, and devotion to the natural world. 

Yvonne's book list on immersive coming-of-age fiction with characters struggling to find themselves amidst the isolation and bigotry in Indigenous, rural, and minority communities

What is my book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through young adulthood. Miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are displaced from their land by multinational energy companies. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie’s aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.

Stefan promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his story, has grown sympathetic to his cause and complicit in his pushback against prejudiced accusations. Their mutual attraction is stymied when Stefan’s older brother, Joachim, who stayed behind, becomes embroiled in the resistance, and Stefan is compelled to return to Canada. Sadie, concerned for his safety, impulsively follows on a trajectory doomed by cultural misunderstanding and oncoming winter.

Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

What is this book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through the pitfalls of young adulthood.
Hundreds of miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are forced off their land by multinational energy companies and flawed treaties. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie's aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.
Stefan, whose own father died in prison while on a hunger strike, promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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