By Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
Thor, Loki, Odin, Bifrost, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim…These are names most of us would have learnt from the movies and comic books from the Marvel Universe. The writers of these comics and movies drew heavily from the Norse mythology which gave us these gods and their many adventures and misadventures.
Neil Gaiman breaks down the Norse universe consisting of the nine realms and how they came to be, the world tree Yggdrasil, and the gods. He has certainly retold some of the stories. But in the process, he has broken them down and simplified them for readers like us whose primary source of knowledge has been Marvel.
Although there are a few stories included in this book, one can observe a progression in the story telling. There is a beginning – the creation of the world from nothing, the nine realms, Yggdrasil. It proceeds to stories and adventures of the various gods. There are tales of Odin and his thirst of knowledge and wisdom; Thor’s strength; the gift of his hammer, Mjölnir; Loki and his penchant for causing trouble; the goddess Idunn who has a garden of magical apples which give the gods their immortality. We also get to learn about other Gods and giants and humans and dwarves and other magical creatures.
The book takes the reader on this beautiful journey through a colourful and vivid narration. There is drama, some romance, comedy, murder and gore, and of course much feasting. Till…
“Until now I have told you of things that have happened in the past- things that happened a long time ago.
Now I shall tell you of the days to come” *
Mr. Gaiman, with these ominous words talks of Ragnarok (those scratching their heads, it is the name of the upcoming Thor movie), an event which will lead to the downfall of the gods and the nine realms as we know it. Who fights against whom would constitute a spoiler, but there are definitely some moments that will make the reader gasp! The future event is vaguely reminiscent of the Kaliyuga and the age of downfall.
This book is definitely a must read for all those who want to learn more about the hammer wielding Thor, the all wise Odin, the trouble causing Loki, the various residents of Asgard and the other eight realms.
*Source – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman