Read Online The Norse MythsAuthor Kevin Crossley-Holland –

Here are thirtytwo classic myths that bring the Viking world vividly to life The mythic legacy of the Scandinavians includes a cycle of stories filled with magnificent images from preChristian Europe Gods, humans, and monstrous beasts engage in prodigious drinking bouts, contests of strength, greedy schemes for gold, and lusty encounters The Norse pantheon includes Odin, the wisest and most fearsome of the gods; Thor, the thundering powerhouse; and the exquisite, magicwielding Freyja Their loves, wars, and adventures take us through worlds both mortal and divine, culminating in a blazing doomsday for gods and humans alike These stories bear witness to the courage, passion, and boundless spirit that were hallmarks of the Norse world“Kevin CrossleyHolland retells the Norse myths in clear, attractive proseAn excellent introduction, notes, and a glossary provide mythological and historical backgrounds and suggest parallels with myths in other parts of the world”–The Denver Post

10 thoughts on “The Norse Myths

  1. Brandi Brandi says:

    What We Learned from Thor (skip if you remember the movie)
    - The universe consists of nine realms.
    - The gods live in Asgard, humans live in Midgard, and the Ice Giants live in Jotunheim.
    - The nine realms are connected by the roots/branches of a tree called Yggdrasill.
    - Odin is the Allfather, or most powerful.
    - Thor is Odin's son and the god of thunder.
    - Sif is one of the warriors from the movie.
    - Loki is... well, you know who he is. The most cunning villain of all time.

    This is what Marvel showed you. But did you also know...?

    ... the other six realms are just as interesting as the first three.
    - There's Alfheim, which is home to light elves.
    - Vanaheim was once home to a host of gods called the Vanir, until they joined the gods in Asgard (after the two realms fought a war, of course).
    - Another realm, Nidavellir, is home to dwarves.
    - The dark elves live in Svartalfheim.
    - Finally, there are Niflheim, the world of the dead, and Hel, realm of the dead.
    You can see an image of all of the realms here.

    ... how Odin became so wise.
    The price might sound pretty high, but Odin was willing to pay it. He gave up his eye to drink from a spring of wisdom.
    ... that Odin had spies bringing him news.
    The god kept two ravens, Huginn ('Thought') and Muninn ('Memory'), which he sent out to the other realms. And according to IMDb, you might have seen them in The Avengers. If you didn't see them, watch it again! ;)

    ... Thor was really for the people.
    Unlike Odin, who represented the higher class (nobles and warriors), Thor was the patron of the peasants (middle class).
    ... Jane Foster didn't have a happily-ever-after after all.
    Thor actually married Sif, the warrior we saw in Thor. Sorry, movie fans, I had to break it to you. :(
    ... Thor and Loki actually were good friends - once in a while.
    In his retelling of the myth Thor and Geirrod, the author notes that Thor and Loki had a great liking for each other's company, and often travelled together through the nine worlds.

    (But don't trust Loki just yet. He's always up to some trick or another...)

    ... Sif has a long history of disputes with Loki.
    One night, Loki stole into Sif's room and cut off her beautiful golden hair. As you can imagine, Thor made sure he received the punishment he deserved.

    ... Loki was actually Odin's foster-brother.
    It's surprising but true. That would make him Thor's uncle - but not technically. He's still the son of two Frost Giants. (Personally, I prefer Marvel's family dynamics better.)
    ... Loki's eyes can turn Christmas colors.
    You can always tell when Loki's scheming in Norse myths because his eyes turn different colors - usually red and green, but sometimes brown or blue.
    ... the children of Loki were fearsome.
    Loki fathered a serpent, a wolf named Fenrir, and a seeress who dwells in Hel. Thor makes light of this in a joke one night, when they are walking together.
    'We must at least find somewhere to stay for the night,' said Loki. 'I wouldn't care to end up as carrion.'
    'Is Fenrir's father so afraid of wolves?' said Thor, and smiled to himself.

    ... Thor's hammer existed because of Loki's trickery.
    Loki tricked two dwarves of Nidavellir into making three gifts for the gods. It was treachery, but if he hadn't, Thor wouldn't have received Mjollnir. Ironic, isn't it?
    ... Thor didn't have to hold his hammer throughout The Avengers; he could've put it in his pocket.
    At least, that's what he did in the myths. The dwarf, Brokk, who made the hammer crafted it so that Thor could make it small enough to tuck inside [his] shirt.
    ... a Frost Giant once stole Mjollnir.
    It's true. A giant named Thrym took Thor's hammer and hid it deep inside the earth. In order to get it back, Thor, Heimdall, Loki (suprisingly), and some of the other gods put together a plan. I won't tell you what it is, but I'll just say that it was very unique. Thor eventually won Mjollnir back.

    But that's not all...
    The Norse Myths contains thirty-two myths full of valor, cunning, and (of course) violence. I ommitted a lot of the stories because I didn't want to spoil the fun for you.

    As for me...
    I was interested in reading Norse myths because I wanted to see how much of Thor was true. It turns out that there are a lot of differences, but the main themes exist in both the myths and the Marvel movie. Thor, of course, is still a protector; Loki's - well - Loki; and so on.

    I only wish that I'd chosen a different retelling. While Crossley-Holland relates the story in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, he himself admitted that he tweaked some of the stories. I sometimes wondered how much was true and how much he imagined himself. I also wish he had provided more details in the actual stories, instead of just in the Introduction and Notes sections.

    For this, I'm only giving the book 3 stars.

    Final Remarks
    - As you can tell, I love the Marvel movies. And although they're not meant to be accurate adaptations of actual mythology, I made this review because I thought it was neat how much similarity the comics have with the myths.
    -All of the non-movie stuff in this review comes from The Norse Myths.
    - I used the author's spellings, so some of the words might look different from what you remember. For instance, I think we would write 'Mjolnir', but his is 'Mjollnir.'
    - All of the images (except the banner at the top) are property of their respective owners. I do not claim ownership of them.

  2. John John says:

    When it comes to myths and folktales, I'm something of a purist. The cultural aspects are often as interesting to me as the stories themselves, so I like to feel like I'm getting something relatively authentic. Unfortunately, this usually means wading through painfully academic translations, skipping back and forth between sterile prose and dry footnotes, salvaging what entertainment is left in the stories.

    Rather than simply translate-and-annotate, Crossley-Holland has compiled these stories from multiple sources and retold them in his own lively, but not distractingly modern, voice. Far from a dumbing-down, he eloquently communicates the spirit of these stories with all of their tension, humor, and remorse.

    Meanwhile, ample academia is tucked into almost one hundred pages worth of intro and notes written in the same lively voice; there are no stale footnotes here. The cultural context is established in the intro, where he also goes over sources and his approach to the retelling. Each story also gets a discussion at the back of the book which breaks down which elements were taken from which sources, variants and similarities to other stories, cultural details, running themes, anything that was left out, etc.

    This author has done much, much more than haphazardly translate a bunch of stories. The myths are vivid and engaging, and the academics manage to be both solid and colorful. In short, this book has set a new standard for me. This is what a book of myths should be.

  3. Sarah Sarah says:

    I bought this at a tiny occult bookshop near the British Museum in June and have been stretching it out ever since. The dork in me really, really enjoys Norse myths. And I liked the notes at the end of each tale, where Crossley-Holland explained which parts came from Snorri Sturluson and which came from Saxo Grammaticus and hi I am single.

  4. Judy Judy says:

    Just finished my latest book of what I call bedtime stories. I read one a night. Now I get to pick another one. Now I know lots about Odin, Loki and the Giants!

  5. Phoebe Phoebe says:

    Embarrassing to admit this -- since I dated (for 4 years) a wonderful man who eventually went on to get a PhD focusing on Viking burials -- but... I've never really been able to get excited about the grim dude-fest that is Norse Mythology. Until this book. Told by Kevin Crossley-Holland, the stories actually feel exciting now! I read one every night, and when I'm done I'm even motivated to go to the notes section to read its background. A great first book on Norse mythology. P.S. I still roll my eyes at the way every object made by the dang dwarves has its own proper name. Asgard is starting to feel like bloody IKEA! But, whatever, I can dig it. I'm a fan now.

  6. John Campbell John Campbell says:

    Crossley-Holland turns the myths into a cultural event with an informative introduction and copious endnotes, which compose about a fourth of the book.
    The stories themselves, though, come across as short folk tales for children (no offense intended to old Snorri Sturulson and company). The one exception, the prophecy of Ragnarok, which packs an entire mythical apocalypse of universal darkness and destruction into four pages. It's worth reading, re-reading, and a little memorizing. Start with:
    Axe-age, sword-age -
    sundered are shields -
    Wind-age, wolf-age,
    ere the world crumbles...

  7. Peter Martuneac Peter Martuneac says:

    A fantastic collection of stories, great selections made. My favorite was probably the telling of how Thor received Mjolnir in the first place, and why it's such a short hammer. A great read for any fan of the history of that region of the world.

  8. Charles Bronson Charles Bronson says:

    The introduction and notes really made this book shine.

  9. Don Lloyd Don Lloyd says:

    I knew a bit about the Norse Myths before reading this book, but then I read several novels that make extensive use of them (Gaiman, American Gods; Chabon, Summerland) and realized I wanted to learn more. I liked this retelling because Crossley-Holland takes and integrates the six primary literary sources (who knew?) and creates story cycle. When I was reading, I had strong contradictory feelings of familiarity and strangeness. Some of the character motivations are ones we're all familiar with, but the stories cover unexpected nad interesting ground. I particularly like the stories that center on Loki, and began to see how a lot more of our current literary and poplular culture traditions might owe a nod to the Norse myths than you might think. In one story, Loki turns himself into a fly to sneak into Freyja's bedchamber, and then turns himself into a flea and amuses himself by crawling over her breasts. I remember an old Arty Feldman movie in which his character, making a deal with the devil, wants to be where he can always see the woman he is in love with. So the devil turns him into a fly. I wonder now if this later story doesn't owe something to Loki's predicaments when he shape shifts.

  10. Andrew Andrew says:

    Very nice introduction to the major Norse gods & myths. Crossley-Holland combines serious scholarship with a strong prose style to make the myths accessible to a cross-section of readers, the curious and serious alike. I found the extensive Notes section just as enjoyable as the myths themselves.