Tag Archives: neil gaiman

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s books and I love the Norse Legends, so I thought that this book was would a great little read. However, I will admit I was left feeling a bit flat.

There is a little bit of context in my reaction, it isn’t just the book. My reading has slowed down in recent weeks as my own writing has been pretty dominant. Also, I bought the book in hardback, which was a massive mistake as I was discouraged from reading it simply because it wouldn’t fit in my handbag. So not the greatest context in which to try and read the book.

However, my biggest problem is very much centered on the fact that I much preferred Joanne Harris’ ‘The Gospel of Loki‘. I simply couldn’t put that book down. There was a central character to get behind, protagonists and antagonists to root for (Loki fell into both categories simultaneously). The plot was intricately woven together and there was pace that kept you turning the page.

I felt flat with Gaiman’s interpretation because there was no central character to get behind, and the characters themselves felt really two dimensional. I know that in Norse mythology the characters themselves probably aren’t that fully formed but I had thought that in a re-interpretation by Gaiman, the characters would have got fleshed out.

Instead there was a just a series of characters in a series of disconnected myths and legends that Gaiman had interpreted. I didn’t feel much incentive to read the next story, and coupled with my hardback mistake I struggled to motivate myself to read the book. And I was disappointed by this because I know this is a passion of Gaiman’s, and I just thought he would do a better job.

I try not to make massive comparisons between books on similar topics, but in this case I can’t help it. I would recommend Harris over Gaiman on this one. The former is just more entertaining.

 

Book Review – Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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I first read this book a few years back when I was first discovering Neil Gaiman, and I will admit I was seriously underwhelmed by the book.

However, that is very much because I am a massive fan of the film, and some of the things I love about the film are very much Hollywood additions to make the story a thriller/fantasy film. And it works for the film, but I seriously didn’t appreciate that when I read the book the first time. I wanted it to essentially be a novelization of the film, rather than being the book the film was based on.

What can I say? I was an idiot.

I’m a lot more familiar with Gaiman’s work now, and after having read The Ocean at the End of the Lane as well, rather than just American Gods or Neverwhere, which are very different in tone, I can honestly say that Stardust is a truly spectacular book.

It is a proper quest plot line, where a love-stricken boy goes off in search of a fallen star in order to win the heart of his ‘one true love’. The journey he goes on makes him into a man; and the almost side-plot of a blood thirsty prince having to go and get revenge for his brother’s murder is inserted perfectly to expand the world-building.

Septimus in the book isn’t quite like Mark Strong’s performance in the film, but you get more of a subtle hint at the intelligence and sophistication of the character, who survives more by lurking in the shadows, than by being a swashbuckling prince who jumps out of windows and gallops around on horseback.

The book is both like and not like the film, but if you view the two media separately both are brilliant for their own reasons. In truth the only thing thing I miss in the book that is in the film is the sarcasm of the ghosts, who have a more subtle role than the comedic value they add to the film. Because the book isn’t really a comedy, it is more romantic and fanciful than that.

The book has beautiful prose, which delicately weaves the character development and world building together; it has lovely hints of old fashioned fantasy novels that drift slowly through the journey, but then also moments so gripping you can’t put the book down. And the imagination that has gone into this book is fascinating; the imagery that is invoked is stunning.

While it has hints of being connected to the magic found in The Ocean at the End of the Lane, this book is a must-read for fantasy lovers. This is because fantasy does not lend itself easily to producing stand-alone novels, but this is a superb example of how less really can be more.

Book Review – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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ocean at the end of the lane

From the moment I had heard that Neil Gaiman was releasing this book I was intrigued just from the title alone. The idea that a pond could be an ocean is a beautiful idea, a one that involves a powerful imagination and a great deal of faith that it is possible.

The premise of the book is at that a death in the neighbourhood of the unnamed protagonist allows for supernatural and malevolent spirits to enter the real world. While the young boy’s friend Lettie Hempstock and her family who live by the ocean at the end of the lane, are attempting to ensure that the sprits do no harm, they are not entirely successful. One escapes and ends up as the boy’s new nanny.

The story is sinister and gripping as this terrified young boy is tormented by the terrible truth that he cannot trust the adult that he has been left alone with, especially when no one else in his family can see the monster. For a child I relate to a great deal; an animal lover; an introvert; and great lover of books, I couldn’t put the book down until I knew the resolution of the story.

The book is for all ages, and is a lovely little read that is paced brilliantly and will have you turning the next page to find out what happens. By far one of Gaiman’s very best in my opinion and the subtle yet powerful fantasy elements will captivate you.