Norse Myths

Norse Myths : Viking Legends of Heroes and Gods

3.93 (125 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.93 (125 ratings by Goodreads)

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You may not think you know much about Norse mythology but you've heard of Valhalla and the Valkyrie, and of trolls and elves, and you'd certainly miss Wednesday and Thursday - named after Norse gods - if they weren't there. Norse mythology is rich in adventure and ideas about creation, death and the afterlife. And from Wagnerian operas to Lord of the Rings to Marvel's Avengers, it has had an immense influence across Western culture. Norse Myths takes a wide-ranging approach to the topic, examining the creation stories of the Norse world, the monsters and the pantheons of the deities including such figures as Thor, Freyr and Loki. It looks at the sagas that tell of real and imagined people, featuring both heroic tales and humorous escapades. The book also examines how Norse myths were interpreted in a Christianised Europe and how their motifs influenced medieval German writers and, in turn, were used in the modern world in very different ways, by the likes of Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler and J.R.R. Tolkien. Illustrated with 180 colour and black-&-white photographs, artworks and maps, Norse Myths is an exciting, engaging and highly informative exploration of a fascinating and highly influential world, and will appeal to anyone interested in folklore and history.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 186 x 244 x 25.4mm | 884.51g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 180 photos, artworks and maps; 180 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1782743324
  • 9781782743323
  • 3,702,603

Table of contents

The sources of Norse mythology and how it compared with other mythologies of the Middle Ages.

1. Creation Myths and the Cosmology
Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being Ymir, and the first two humans are Ask and Embla. Also explores Asgard, where the gods live, and Midgard, where humans live.

2. The Deities
Norse mythology is unusual in that it has two sets of deities who became a single pantheon. The clash between the Aesir (gods of war) and Vanir (gods of nature or fertility) could have a different mythic significance, however. It might indicate a change in society to a more martial outlook, since although the two sets of gods are supposedly equal, the Aesir seem to be the senior partners.

3. Jotnar
Norse mythology was populated by a range of creatures, in addition to mortals and gods. Some were monsters, some personifications of natural forces, and some were powerful supernatural beings. Others, like the Jotnar, were very similar to the gods and could have children with them. Many of the gods had at least one parent who was a Jotunn.

4. Other Creatures
Norse mythology tells of a variety of magical creatures. These include Elves, Dwarfs, Trolls, Valkyrie, multi-legged horses like Sleipnir, sea beasts such as Jormungand, the wolf Fenrir, and the gold-hoarding dragon Fafnir.

5. The Eddas
Most of what is known today about the Norse religion and mythos comes from the Poetic and Prose Eddas, or from the sagas written about mortal heroes.

6. Ragnarok
The Valkyrie are maidens who carry half of those slain in battle to Valhalla to be ready to do combat when Ragnarok, the foretold battle at the end of the world, arrives. Some dead go to Hel. At Ragnarok, the gods Odin, Thor, Tyr, Heimdallr, and Loki are killed by fire jotunn; the world is destroyed and then repopulated by two human survivors.

7. The Legacy of Norse Religion
Norse mythology saw a Romantic revival in 19th century art and music, such as in Wagner's opera The Ring of the Nibelund, which drew on the Old Norse Edda, the Volsunga saga and Thidrekssaga. J.R.R. Tolkien, a scholar of Anglo-Saxon, was influenced by Norse mythology in writing The Lord of the Rings. Marvel comics also use the characters of Thor and Loki in their Avengers books and movies.

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Review quote

This truly is an exploration of Viking culture that everyone can enjoy. * All About History *
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About Martin J Dougherty

Martin J. Dougherty is a freelance writer and editor specializing in military and defence topics. His published works deal with subjects ranging from naval weapons systems and precision-guided weapons to personal security. He is an expert on asymmetric and non- conventional warfare and has addressed several international conferences on these subjects.
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Rating details

125 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 25% (31)
4 46% (58)
3 26% (32)
2 3% (4)
1 0% (0)
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