Book Review: “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman

The more I read them, the more I love old myths and legends. They’re more than stories, more than magic and gods and the fantastic, they’re part of the history of a people group. They give insight into what mattered to a culture, what a people believed about themselves and life.

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My husband is half Norwegian. His father’s parents emigrated to the United States after their first child was born. They are all very proud of their heritage, which shows itself in recipes, jokes, and heirlooms and even a regularly repeated rumor of lineage to Odin. *wrinkles nose dubiously* So when one of my favorite authors announced that he was releasing a book of Norse Myths, I was extra excited to read it.

I often describe Neil Gaiman’s writing voice as beautiful to the point of dangerous. His tone is fluid, poetic, and enchanting. Once he begins to tell a story, I don’t want to stop listening, and if my 9 month old baby wasn’t trying to nibble the book every time it appeared, I would easily have finished this book in two days. In the end, it took me two weeks and the dust jacket, which frequently sacrificed itself as bate to her grabby, curious hands, barely escaped with its life.

The myths inside are not written as a bare timeline of incidents the way I remember Hamilton’s Mythology, (which, while informative, I will always refer to as “the cure for insomnia”). Norse Mythology read like a novel, each episode one step closer to the inevitable doomsday of the gods, Ragnarök. The cast of characters includes fiendish dwarves, clever giants, and many flawed, yet powerful gods. Gaiman tells each tale with his usual flourish and touch of humor. It was perfectly executed.

Basically this book is beautiful and everyone should read it.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Myths

On January 23, 2003 Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman aired the first episode of a show called Mythbusters. This wild ride of science, hilarious hijinks, and massive explosions, lasted fourteen glorious years.

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They set out with the goal of testing folklore scientifically, seeing if you could really make your stomach explode from eating poprocks and soda together, and if eating a poppy seed bagel for breakfast could really give you a false positive on a drug test. Overmythbusters-truck-explosion-o the years, they worked to make science fun for those who had begun to think it was all just book learnin. It was amazing and I learned so much. I personally have always loved science, but watching them perform tests that I would never have the ability to do, or bring up subjects that I knew nothing of, was a gift I’ll never forget.

I loved their ancient weaponry, myths, where they’d look at hwacha56o6jcenturies old manuscripts and blueprints and reconstruct the device. They  made cannons out of ice, catapults out of unfelled trees, torpedoes from 13th century Syria, and my favourite, the Hwacha!

They were well known to the public for their crazy explosions, one of my favorites still remains the time they made the creamer cannon. I love watching Kari Byron flee up the hill when the experiment went a lot better than they’d anticipated.

Their last ever episode aired on Sunday, March 5, 2016. This post is just me taking a minute to thank them. I don’t enjoy watching television as a general rule, so it’s hard to make me a loyal fan of anything on the screen. But the combination of history, science, and Adam and Jamie’s on screen chemistry won me over in total.

They’ve been open about theirs being a working relationship only, that they don’t see each Image-1other except on the set, because they don’t get along. Even if we allow for this being reality TV and some of their little tiff’s being staged or exaggerated, you can’t help but love them for how different they are. It was because of this, they made the ideal team. That was why when Jamie was asked to start this show, he asked Adam to join him, not because they were best friends, but because they made a good team.

This is gonna sound corny, but after 14 years I felt like I knew them a little. It’s like when you graduate high school or college and you give that favorite teacher one last goodbye hug. This is my hug to them. I’m going to miss you guys. Thanks for everything I learned. Thanks for jumping out of planes, getting buried alive, driving cars into swimming pools, and blowing up cement trucks. It’s been a blast.

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Text © Rachel Svendsen 2016