This weeks recommendation is Myths of the Norsemen by H.A. Guerber. It is sometimes titled Tales of Norse Mythology but it is the same book. I also recommend Neil Gaiman‘s recently published Norse Mythology as it is also a well written rendition of the myths. Of course, I also have to include the Poetic and Prose Eddas (Snorri Sturluson is the better known author of the Prose).
Well there you go. Three (technically four) recommendations of essentially the same stories. May seem strange, but hear me out. First, mythology is always awesome (I prefer the Norse myths but I also like many others and want to read Stephen Fry’s Mythos but it is that time of year where I have to, with difficulty, stop myself from buying books so others can have gift ideas for me). Mythology is many times the spring of imagination and inspiration for many authors and references are often found in many areas of cultures like other books, movies, video games, etc. In Halo, Master Chief’s armor is called Mjolnir class. Guess where that name came from (yeah, Master Chief is basically a giant human hammer that kills things).
These books tell of Thor as he was before he became a Marvel character. One reason the Norse gods are so compelling is the fact that they know of their own mortality (even though it is well beyond the mortality of humans). There is an end, and that in a way makes them human despite their powers and wisdom.
But why different versions? Because these stories were originally told orally and varied greatly maybe more in their own time than they do today. Reading them and seeing the differences is glimpsing into human history when Gods were worshiped and believed to exist in reality before time turned them in to legend and myth.