Because, said Thor, when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.
These stories are taken from the Prose Edda, which I read years ago. I really enjoyed this retelling. I listened to this on audio. I loved Gaiman’s narration.
Neil Gaiman starts with the creation of Yggdrasil, the world tree, and the nine worlds: Alfheim (the world of the light elves), Nidavellir/Svartalfheim (the world of the dwarves), Midgard (the human world), Jotunheim (the world of the giants), Niflheim (“the dark mist world”), Muspell (the world of primordial flame), Vanaheim (the world of the Vanir, one of the two pantheons of Norse gods) Hel, “where the dead go who did not die bravely in battle,” and Asgard (the world of the Aesir, the other pantheon of gods).
Most of the stories that Gaiman picked to retell revolve around Thor, Odin, and Loki.
The highlights for me were:
“The Master Builder” – In the early days of the realm of Asgard, a mysterious stranger offers to build a wall thick and tall enough to keep out trolls and giants. In exchange, he asks for the sun, the moon, and the hand of Freya (the beautiful Norse goddess of love) in marriage.
“The mead of the poets” – How the dwarves created the mead of the poets and gave it to the giant Suttung, who kept it until it was stolen by the gods.
“The visit to the land of the giants” — Thor and Loki visit the land of the giants.
“The death of Balder” — The death of Balder, Odin’s favorite son. Gaiman sets this one up to lead into the next chapter, “The Last days of Loki & the Beginning of Ragnarok.”