What do you do when you’re on a road trip with your husband and have hours in the car in front of you? You try to pick a book that the two of you will enjoy together, in this case Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, and hit play. Narrated by the author himself, Norse Mythology tells of some of the myth’s surrounding Thor, Loki, and Odin. Characters we think are familiar to us because of the very popular Avenger’s franchise, but in actuality Gods who were flawed and maybe not quite so heroic.
A quick word about the narration. Read by Neil Gaiman’s accented voice, he brought the characters to life imbuing them with a humanity that those Gods would probably dislike. That humanity held a wealth of emotions; humor, anger, mischievousness, stupidity, and even evil. I forgot at times that this was the author himself speaking because the characterizations were read so well.
What I found most interesting about listening to these myth’s is how much the popularization of these characters in current movies has shifted from the truth, or at least the truth as it was passed down through stories. Marvel gave us handsome actors in Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and a stout grandpa like figure in Anthony Hopkins as Odin. When Mr. Gaiman’s voice spoke the first chapter it was those actors who filled my head, but by the third story I realized those faces didn’t fit the characters actions in this book and I soon came up with faces from my own imagination. Although, it was quite funny to picture Chris Hemsworth as a more stupid, beefy version of Thor. How did Marvel stray so far from these truths? Strike that question, we know why. Chris, Tom, and even a more elderly Anthony Hopkins sell tickets because of their pretty (cough) faces.
Despite a couple of dull stories, my husband and I were entertained for 6+ hours, laughing at Thor’s obtuseness, and Loki’s mischievous nature, but I’ll admit to being more surprised at Odin’s true character. In Norse Mythology, Odin, the father of all humans, was actually a rather evil guy. As Loki played tricks on other Gods, Odin played tricks on humans which seemed a lot worse. Gods given their all powerful nature should be able to take care of themselves but the scale seems imbalanced when you pit a god against a human.
Even though I’d had Norse Mythology on my TBR I probably would never have gotten around to reading it because mythology sounds interesting but the reading of it, even fictionalized, can be a little dry. I’m glad the opportunity arose to listen to the audiobook in a time when their tales seemed relevant. What I mean by that is that this year, in 2020, it feels like a book could be written about our current gods (imaginary or real) playing tricks, getting angry, or being completely obtuse about the goings on of their humans. It strikes me that in Norse Mythology there wasn’t a very benevolent god in the bunch which doesn’t bode well for this humans future. Gods help me.
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