Written by a master of mythology (and an Inkling of Oxford), Myths of the Norsemen takes the available fragments of Viking tales and weaves a complete story from creation to destruction to rebirth. Though I was familiar with some of the characters and the events described in this book prior to reading it, I did not love it as I have come to now. Granted, as president (for life) of the Valhalla Norwegian Society, I’m predisposed to enjoy stories that celebrate my viking ancestry, but that only accounts for a small portion of my gushing praise.
Lancelyn Green’s collection of stories reads, at times like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and at other times like the Biblical book of Revelation, yet always it retains its tone of “northernness”. The dealings of gods and men, the value of strength and wits, and the certainty of impending death among even the deities gives Norse mythology a depth that is not found in Greek or Roman myths.
These gods are not holy. They are examples of the best and worst that mankind can aspire to be. Odin shows us that wisdom is costly. Thor shows us that strength does not always mean victory. Loki shows us that evils can be forgiven if one is useful to society. From Freya, we learn that actions have consequences, and from her husband Odur that love can triumph over many wrongs.
It will take me a while (and a few more readings) to glean what I can from Myths of the Norsemen. In the meantime, my brain is recharged and I’m excited to write afresh.