Ragnarok : the End of the Gods

3.48 (4,196 ratings by Goodreads)
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Ragnarok is the story of the end of the world. It is a tale of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves: what more relevant myth could any modern writer choose?

As the bombs rain down in the Second World War, one young girl is evacuated to the English countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods - a book of ancient Norse myths - and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.

War, natural disaster, reckless gods and the destruction of life on this planet are just some of the threads that A.S. Byatt weaves into this most timely of books. Just as Wagner borrowed from this dramatic Norse saga for the climax of the Ring Cycle, so A.S. Byatt reinvents it for our time in all its intensity and glory. Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, this is a landmark piece of storytelling from one of the world's truly great writers.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 146 x 219 x 21mm | 371g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1847670644
  • 9781847670649
  • 117,638

Review quote

Byatt's prose is majestic, the lush descriptive passages - jewelled one minute, gory the next - a pleasure to get lost in * * Sunday Telegraph * * Byatt paints beautiful and fantastic word-pictures, glittering verbal special effects -- Allan Massie * * Scotsman * * Colour and sensation flood Byatt's writing . . . One of the most brilliant minds and speakers of our generation. * * Independent * * Byatt's prose, compact and lyrical, treats [the gods] with dignity...Ragnarok is a clever, lucid, lovely book -- M. John Harrison * * Guardian * * Thanks to a rare fusion of imagination and intellect, sensual poetry and cerebral prose, youthful joy and elderly wisdom [,Byatt has made]...an entire world, compressed but energetically alive in all its details. When we have artists like this, who needs gods? -- Peter Conrad * * Observer * * Byatt peels back the cover of the book that the girl reads and takes us deep inside it as she delights in reimagining the twilight of the gods and the destruction of the world. ... Like Wagner before her, [she] dares to dream how the world might end ... this rewriting of the Ragnarok is a story for our time of overpopulation and anthropomorphic climate change, and of all time * * Financial Times * * Surely among the most beautiful and incisive [pages] Byatt has ever written * * Independent * * Byatt's retelling of Ragnarok is permeated with the loving familiarity of long acquaintance. Her language is lapidary. The terrible archness that can infest the narratives of sophisticated writers who attempt to master myth is resoundingly absent. ... It is pleasant to imagine some lonely, bookish child discovering it and becoming entranced -- Jane Shilling * * Evening Standard * * A brilliant, highly intelligent, fiercely personal rendition of the Scandinavian mythology...a gorgeous enrichment and interpretation -- Ursula K. Le Guin * * Literary Review * * Byatt's writing, impassioned and liberated from the strictures of the novel, has never been so beautiful * * Telegraph * * In her addition to Canongate's series of "Myths", Byatt dramatically retells Nordic legends of the twilight of the gods. * * Independent * * Energy and power drip from Byatt's writing. ... There are too many glittering sentences to quote here in full. * * New Humanist * * Writes with poetic beauty... dazzling, colourful, intensely vivid. * * Daily Express * * This cautionary tale of cupidity, greed and mindless violence is endlessly applicable to our own destructive age. * * The Skinny * * Byatt's ravishing prose is more than enough consolation for a story which, like the world it describes, has just one inexorable ending. * * Metro * * Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, a landmark work of fiction from one of the world's truly great writers. * * Granta * * Byatt enters with gusto and an almost Ted Hughes-like relish for savagery into this primitive world of sorcery and trickey. * * Sunday Times * * Lyrical and urgent . . . a gorgeous book -- Erica Wagner * * The Times Saturday Review * *
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About A.S. Byatt

A.S. Byatt is the author of fifteen works of fiction including the Booker Prize-winning Possession, The Biographer's Tale and, most recently, the Man Booker-shortlisted The Children's Book. A distinguished critic as well as a writer of fiction, A.S. Byatt was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.
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Rating details

4,196 ratings
3.48 out of 5 stars
5 17% (734)
4 34% (1,410)
3 33% (1,377)
2 13% (526)
1 4% (149)

Our customer reviews

When I first saw this title was available on NetGalley, I was so excited and requested it at once. I've loved everything I've read by Byatt and this story was of particular interest to me as I adore mythology. I devoured this book in one sitting and loved every minute of it. The story of Ragnarok is told here as seen through the eyes of a young girl, reading the mythology from a book while she lives in the country during the war. I loved the way the child related the story to her own experiences of war and religion. This book shifts between the child's thoughts and the Ragnarok story, but it never feels fragmented as Byatt manages to balance the two elements perfectly. The prose is beautiful and descriptive yet not overly 'flowery' and it is a real pleasure to read it and lose yourself in the words. I enjoyed the note from Byatt at the end, discussing the approach she'd used, as that really helped bind the piece together. It's been a while since I last did any reading on Northern myth, but I now feel inspired to grab up my copies of the Edda and the Kalevala again. This is definitely a book that I will be buying myself a print copy of so that I can keep it in my library and reread it in the future. Highly recommended to both lovers of literary fiction and those interested in mythology. I received this book as a free ebook ARC from NetGalley.show more
by Nicola Markus
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