'A terrific, detailed introduction of these wonderful stories and the pantheon of characters in them . . . their writing is vivid and lively . . . a great addition to any library.'
Rosi Hollinbeck, San Francisco Book Review
'With recent volumes, such as Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology and J.R.R. Tolkien's posthumously published The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun, appealing more to readers strictly interested in creative takes on classic Norse tales, this title attracts new readers by offering solid retellings and contextual information that serve as a valuable introduction to this rich tradition.'
While the main focus of the book is on telling the stories, some scene-setting is provided at the beginning and each chapter also contains a section of commentary to explain what is going on and its significance.
The Norse myths have gained widespread attention in the English-speaking world, partly through a Scandinavian diaspora, especially in the USA) and partly through a great interest in the myths and legends which lie behind Viking activity.
Tolkien's 'Middle Earth', too, as seen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films is heavily indebted to Germanic/Norse mythology. The Whittock's book fills a gap in the market between academic publications and the interest-generating (but confusing) products of Hollywood and comic-culture. This is an accessible book, which both provides a retelling of these dramatic stories and also sets them in context so that their place within the Viking world can be understood.
The book explores Norse myths (stories, usually religious, which explain origins, why things are as they are, the nature of the spiritual) and legends (stories which attempt to explain historical events and which may involve historical characters but which are told in a non-historical way and which often include supernatural events).