As you know if you've been following along with the weekly reviews for awhile, I've been spending a lot of time reading this past year or so books that deal with either myth or ancient history, whether its the mythology of Iceland or Tolkien, and that has led me to my own thoughts about mythology and history, including a rapidly growing novel that draws from such ideas and formats for much of its inspiration. In many ways, Gaiman's Norse Mythology feels like a similar project, a retelling of old myths in a new way. Instead of telling a new story inspired by those older sources, Gaiman actually retells a sampling of real, classic myths.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this read, as I make something of a point not to read too many reviews before I start a new book so as to not bias myself one way or another from what other people thought. Whatever it was I expected, I found something very different. After I finished it, I did see a review that aligned this book with something like The Iliad, which I think might be the most apt comparison of which I can think. This has a very mythical feel: all of the characters are larger-than-life, both they and their enemies are exaggerated in their powers and personalities, and character arcs are largely absent...
A lot of very strange things can, and do, happen on a world that is flat, and is carried on the backs of four elephants perched upon the shell of the great turtle A'Tuan. Terry Pratchett's world and stories seem, on the surface, to be plainly fun. And they are that. Lighthearted and amusing, his stories don't feel heavy, but despite their facade, they in many cases convey unexpected significance. The well-meaning Watch Captain Vimes does just that as he investigates a dwarfish murder.
One of the distinguishing features of the speculative fiction genre in its published form is the maps. Avid readers of fantasy and science fiction are known to pour over the maps included in the books they read, maps describing fantastical worlds and universes in vivid detail. It was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that I would at some point be obliged to create maps to go along with the stories I've written or am in the process of writing.