National Geographic’s Treasury of Norse Mythology

I began this post thinking that this was the first book I’ve finished in 2016. But it has a lot of pictures. Does that make it a picture book? If so, then there were actually three I finished before it: Home by Carson Ellis, and The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. But this one is a lot longer. In the limited time slots I’m allowed to sit still and concentrate, it took me three days to finish this.

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And it was wonderful. Mythology always daunts me. Surely there’s so much of it … surely there’s no clear beginning and end … surely it’s all written at Bulfinch levels of digestibility … and why do I care? Nothing about Greece or Rome has ever warmed my blood. Sorry, truth.

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This, though. Holy. Farking. Cats. The illustrations are gorgeous, to begin with. And the stories are, even if you don’t know it, intertwined with many stories you know and love. Tolkien? C. S. Lewis? Rowling? Yeah, they all find their roots right here. I was delighted again and again to be coming upon familiar names, tropes, situations, morals. This raised the hair on the back of my neck.

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And it, like all ancient mythologies, is bizarre. Truly stories invented by people who weren’t hamstrung by our conventions. Mutability? Permeability? Oh yeah, baby. Oh yeah.

So yes, definitely worth it. I do recommend. They have treasuries of Greek and Egyptian mythology, too, if you think those would wet your whistle.

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