Very nice introduction to the major Norse gods myths CrossleyHolland combines serious scholarship with a strong prose style to make the myths accessible to a crosssection of readers, the curious and serious alike I found the extensive Notes section just as enjoyable as the myths themselves. 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 dudefest that is Norse Mythology Until this book Told by Kevin CrossleyHolland, 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. 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 CrossleyHolland explained which parts came from Snorri Sturluson and which came from Saxo Grammaticus and hi I am single. 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! 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. CrossleyHolland 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, rereading, and a little memorizing Start with: Axeage, swordage sundered are shields Windage, wolfage, ere the world crumbles The introduction and notes really made this book shine. 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 learnI liked this retelling because CrossleyHolland 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 lotof 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. 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 translateandannotate, CrossleyHolland has compiled these stories from multiple sources and retold them in his own lively, but not distractingly modern, voice Far from a dumbingdown, 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, muchthan 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. 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