Mar 3, 2008

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman + Read an E-Book Week

This story takes place in old Norway, at a time when the stories of the old myths were still in the making. Odd is a twelve year old boy with an infuriating smile. To the exasperation of his fellow villagers, Odd’s smile did not disappear even after his father was killed in a sea-raid, or when an accident crippled his leg three weeks after that. Nobody knows what hides behind Odd’s smile – nobody knows what he’s feeling or thinking, and in a small village like that, that’s a very rare thing.

Our story begins in a year when winter is lingering for longer than it should:

By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run, and the world would wake into itself again.

Not that year.

Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die. Day after grey day the ice stayed hard, the world remained unfriendly and cold.

In the village, people got on each other’s nerves. They’d been staring at each other across the great hall for four months now. It was time for the men to make the longboat seaworthy, time for the women to start clearing the ground for planting. The games became nasty. The jokes became mean. Fights were to hurt.
It is in the middle of this persistent winter that Odd decides to leave his village. After an encounter with a fox, a bear and a one-eyed eagle, he discovers the reason why spring won’t come. The Frost Giants have thrown the gods Loki, Thor and Odin out of Asgard. And it’s up to Odd to help them, and to restore normality to the world.

Odd and the Frost Giants reworks the Norse myth in which Thor’s hammer Mjollnir is stolen by a Frost Giant, who demands the hand of the goddess Freya in marriage. And, like the best retellings do, it breathes new life into the story; it makes something that is very interesting to begin with more interesting still. And it does this by approaching an old tale from new angles, by exploring its untold corners, by pondering on the hidden emotions and secret motivations of the characters. Neil Gaiman had already proved, in works like The Sandman or American Gods, that he excels at this. Odd and the Frost Giant is further proof.

It’s an excellent little book. It’s funny at times, it’s solemn when it needs to be, it gets moving towards the end. It has a great hero – one who is common enough to be easy to relate to, and odd enough to be unique and unforgettable.

It’s also a story in which the author’s passion for Norse mythology is almost palpable, and that alone is often enough to ignite a similar passion in the readers. And that is a precious gift.

Other Opinions:
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Working Title
A Striped Armchair
Stainless Steel Droppings
Bride of the Bookgod
Valentina's Room
Jenny's Books
Charlotte's Library

I found this via Lisa at Pfeiffer Booknotes: March 2ndt-8th is Read an E-Book Week. Therefore, I am going to read an E-Book this week. Thinking of doing the same but unsure of what to read? Here are a few suggestions:

As most of you no doubt know, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was recently made available online for free for a month.

The Baldwin Project has a great collection of children’s classics, including fiction, non-fiction, mythology and fairy tales. And since we were talking about Norse myths earlier, I see that they have a wonderful collection of Norse myths retold by Padraic Colum that I highly recommend.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes is a collection of fairy tales hilariously retold in the form of poems. You can read it online here.

But when it comes myths, folklore or fairy tales, nothing beats SurLaLune’s wonderful e-library.

Now the only question is what I’ll pick myself. I'm leaning towards Padraic Colum's The King of Ireland's Son, which I have been meaning to read for over a year anyway.


  1. I decided to be good and just wait patiently and pre-order this book. But oh, how you're tempting me to break my non-buying vow! What a delightful review, Nymeth! And I can't even be mad at you for tempting me, because you left us all these wonderful links! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    And as I'm sure you know, I'd never really be mad at you anyway :)

  2. I just found your blog
    and I do like it.

    Terry Finley

  3. I just signed up at and then they sent me an email link to a free ebook. I haven't started reading it yet, not sure how I'll like reading off my computer, but we'll see how it goes.

    I think they'll be doing free ebooks once a month as a promotion.

  4. Great review, Nymeth, as usual. ;) And the cover looks great too! I'm going to add this to my wishlist as well, thanks!

  5. Hopefully mine will be arriving soon! I look forward to reading it for the Once Upon a Time II Challenge. New Neil is a good thing!

  6. Coolness, NEIL GAIMAN linked this post in his journal! Coolness!

  7. Is this juvenile fiction, or adult?

  8. Oye--I'm already easily distracted at work by google reader, e-books would be a disaster. :) Very tempting, but I must resist.

    I really need to pick up some Gaiman--since blogging, I don't think I've heard anything negative about his work--this one is no exception.

  9. Thanks for these links to more ebook sources. Maybe I'll keep trying!

  10. Debi: You're very welcome, and I hope you enjoy the links! Your patience will pay, you'll see... I have no doubt that you, Annie and the boys will really enjoy Odd and the Frost Giants!

    Terry Finley: I'm glad you enjoy my blog, and thank you for dropping by :)

    Kim L: I prefer reading on paper to reading on the computer, but since I got my laptop I've been reading more on the computer and I'm starting to get used to it. I am quite attached to paper books, but when I think of the trees I feel guilty. Thanks for letting me know about, I'm going to check it out now!

    Melody: Thanks! It is a very nice cover. I hope you enjoy this one!

    Carl: Yup, a new Neil is always a good thing! I look forward to your review of this one!

    Lightheaded: I KNOW :o I totally had a fangirl moment when I saw it! Then I had a grinning wildly moment that may still not have passed :P And he linked to Chris too - he's going to have a nice surprise when he gets back from Austin. This is one of the reasons why I love the internet :P

    Jeane: It's a children's book, but, like the best children's fiction, it's very rewarding for adults too.

    Trish: You do have to pick up some Neil Gaiman! Of course, being that he is my favourite author and the favourite author of many other bloggers, we might be slightly biased :P But of course, he's our favourite for a reason. Do give him a try. This one's really short, so it'd be a good way to see how you like his writing.

    Lisa: You're welcome! I've had trouble with e-books in the past, but I love the idea of them, so I figure I just have to get myself used to reading them.

  11. I just read a review of this on Crhis' blog as well. Looks quite fun. I don't know about Ebooks. I don't like reading for too long on the computer as it gives me eye strain so not sure I could manage a whole book.

  12. neil just has a way with norse mythology, doesn't he? you're right, his love for it permeates his work - he really makes it come alive!

    i can't wait to read this!!

  13. Uhhhhh....CRAZY!!! Huh???? We get linked to in Neil's journal?! I nearly fainted when I was catching up on blogs, lol! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it too, you wouldn't have :p It was a great little book. Now I can't wait for the Graveyard Book!

  14. Rhinoa: I think you'll enjoy this one. When I'm reading on the computer I have to take breaks more often, but still, I thought I'd give it a try.

    JP: You have to read this! It's only 97 pages long, I think it's worth making an exception for :P He definitely does have a way with it.

    Chris: lol, crazy is the right word, yup :P I can't for the Graveyard Book either!

  15. I must get round to getting hold of a copy of this. The brevity of it is perhaps a slight worry; I think Gaiman's probably at his best when he has more space to wander around things.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.