Just finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (audiobook version)
This was surprisingly fantastic. I wasn’t entirely sure what this was going to be: a re-writing by Gaiman of the old stories; a bunch of original stories based on the myths; or maybe something weird like “American Gods”.
Turns out it was the first one: Gaiman has always enjoyed the Norse pantheon and has regularly had them appear in a lot of his fiction (e.g., Sandman), and he is obviously well-read on the subject. In this book he takes the Norse stories and re-writes them with his own excellent prose, keeping the relevant names, events and details, but wrapping them in excellent language. In his forward he explains his sources and where he pulled the stories from - turns out that he eschewed other modern takes on them and went back to the two Eddas and other early writings, which I thought was cool.
The stories themselves are actually quite complex and involved, albeit saddled sometimes with a myth’s loose grasp of continuity and reason. I found myself entertained not only by Gaiman’s great writing style and narration (in the audiobook version, Gaiman is also the voice talent) but by the stories and characters themselves.
I’m not sure the book is for everyone, because I’m not sure that everyone read and enjoyed Bullfinch’s Mythology like I did as a kid. But if you are the kind of person that poured over Deities and Demigods as a kid and who enjoys reading about pantheons and gods and maybe hearing the pre-echoes and mirrors of Christian myth in them, you’ll find a lot to like in this (short) book.