With colour artwork by Gillian McClure, a collection of Norse myths.
Why read it?
5 authors picked Norse Myths as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
The way these stories are phrased here makes this my favourite set of retellings. Crossley-Holland’s choice of words evokes the original Norse. He uses alliteration, mainly when describing land and sea, and he is very careful to use words that come from Old English, a sister language to Old Norse, in preference to words from Latin, Greek, and post-Latin languages. There are plenty of other retellings that cover similar ground, but none with quite this joy in the energy of the original.
If you’ve going to read Loki, you probably want to pick this one up first. Crossley-Holland gives an immensely well-written retelling of the classic Norse myths that provided the major framework for my own books about Loki. If you’re read myths before, you know they can be a tad dry sometimes, usually due to a lack of personality on the part of the characters. They are usually presented as archetypes, which is cool enough, but lacks a narrative punch. Crossley-Holland presents them in a slightly more modern narrative, which brings the characters to life. My rooting for Loki helped form…
This book is a clear and charming retelling of the old stories some of which lie in the background of the Heliand version of the Gospel. The tales are all retold in a way that makes them easily become familiar to the modern reader – the creation of the world is there, the beautiful cosmology with the Tree Yggdrasil holding all things together in space, with well of time as well at its base. The end of the world, Ragnarok, with both its unspeakable terrors as well as the sympathetic trembling of the Tree, contain a fear and a hope…
The Norse Myths makes the Norse lore accessible to a modern audience. Unlike some collections, this is a book for adult readers and the author provides a wealth of cultural and background information to compliment the stories. For those who are new to Norse mythology, this is a wonderful starting point. For those who are already familiar with the tales, this book provides a fresh and powerful retelling of the myths.
Kevin Crossley-Holland works from the same material as Neil Gaiman, uses the same blending technique, and comes up with a completely different set of stories.
Compare how he tells of the creation: “Burning ice, biting flame; that is how life began.” What Gaiman calls “the mist world,” Crossley-Holland describes as “heavy with layers of ice and hoar frost, a desolate place haunted by gusts and skuthers of wind.”
In Crossley-Holland’s The Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, the word reigns supreme—though these powerful stories have no trouble standing up to his wordsmithing. And for those of us who love the…
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