The world of Norse mythology – the myths and legends of the Vikings and Scandinavia – is one of high stakes drama, full of sibling rivalry, betrayal, vengeance, and war. There is Odin, the Allfather, leader and wisest of the gods. Thor, his son, is the strongest of the gods and wields a mighty hammer. Loki is the trickster god, choatic, and untrustworthy, disliked by most of the other gods. They live their crazy lives in Asgard, fighting amongst themselves, dreading the coming of Ragnarok, the end of the world when even the gods will die. These stories are ancient, and while darker than many other mythologies, are incredibly fun to read.
Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman – Neil Gaiman grew up loving the stories of the Norse gods, and it shows in this collection. He lovingly retells many of the old stories, giving great attention to Odin, Thor, and Loki. He starts with the creation of Asgard, and Midgard, and goes through to Ragnarok. He even helps us all out by listing some of the most important figures of Norse mythology in the beginning of the book, and gives details about who they are. His stories are straightforward, without any frills, keeping them true to the originals. Because of this, they are easy to understand. This book is dramatic and fun, and will be a hit among both old fans and newcomers to Norse mythology.
The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne Harris – Loki, the trickster god, is loved by few of his fellow gods, and many don’t have anything good to say about him. But now it’s his turn to tell his story, and correct the lies that have been told about him. Born in Chaos, he is wildfire, the son of a lightning bolt and pile of dry twigs. When he leaves Chaos, Odin takes him in as his blood brother, and servant. Loki retells all of the ancient Norse myths through his own eyes, in his very sarcastic, very funny voice. This one is a hilarious new look at all the old stories, told from a different angle, by a not very reliable narrator. If most of the other gods don’t trust Loki, should we? Loki is one of the most complex, interesting, and entertaining of all the gods, and Joanne Harris does a great job bringing him to life.
The Witch’s Heart, by Genevieve Gornichec – Three times Odin has the witch Gullveig burned at the stake for withholding the secrets of her powers, and three times she is reborn. After the third time, she hides herself away in the remote forest known as Ironwood, renames herself Angrboda, and meets and falls in love with Loki. The two have three very unusual children together, and while she tries to keep them away from the madness of Asgard, she can’t help but see the future and what it holds for her children. She learns that no matter how hard she tries, she can’t stop fate. This book is beautifully written, and gives new voice to a character barely mentioned in the old myths, even though she was the wife of one of the most notorious gods, and mother of three beings who each played an important role in the world of Norse mythology.
You can find a list with these three books and more on Norse mythology here.