From the times immemorial, people have been making stories about supernatural beings and their ultimate battle for Good vs Evil. Gods, Devils, Monsters - these types of creatures abound in our mythological folklore.
And if one particular folklore can be explicitly outlined here, it’s definitely the Norse mythology. Originating from the North Germanic tribes and peoples, the stories about Odin, Thor, Loki, Ymir, and countless others have penetrated our current pop culture, from movies and TV shows all the way to the small novels and stories.
In fact, even the gambling industry was quick to jump on these stories for their apparent popularity among consumers all over the world. For instance, these best casino sites in Norway often feature several casino games that are based on Norse mythology, making the gameplay even more appealing.
Yet books, in particular, are an even greater way of conveying that Nordic mythos with its full complexity. That’s why we have assembled these top 6 sci-fi and fantasy genre novels that are original in their representation of Norse gods and monsters. So, without further ado, let’s start reviewing them. And one thing to specify: there’s no particular order with these books, we’re just listing them randomly - some by their context.
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a well-known author among fantasy genre enthusiasts from all around the world. And his classic novel, American Gods, is considered a pinnacle in his literary work.
American Gods is basically about a struggle for existence between the old and new gods. Among the ranks of old gods are the prototypes of Norse gods, including Odin (Mr. Wednesday), Loki (Low-Key Lyesmith), and many more. These gods are trying their best to remain relevant and not lose prevalence among regular people.
However, the new gods such as The Technical Boy still manage to rise and conquer the pedestal. The book is all about this clash between tradition and modernism, faith, etc. and is definitely worth reading.
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman
Another Gaiman’s acclaimed novel, which is specifically dedicated to the Norse gods and other mythological creatures, is called Norse Mythology (not that hard to guess the synopsis, right?).
Basically, Norse Mythology is a collection of stories that are skillfully told by the author. In those stories, the old myths about Norse gods and other mythological creatures are told in a modern and contemporary manner. The book also works as a novel, where gods and regular mortals have their own complex personalities and help the author retell this story more emotionally.
Magnus Chase - Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan is yet another famous fantasy genre writer who takes inspiration from ancient myths and legends. The Magnus Chase series is his current project that focuses on Norse mythology.
In short, Ragnarok is coming, everyone is terrified of the upcoming catastrophes, and in the middle of all that, a boy named Magnus Chase discovers that he’s the son of Norse god. The story revolves around how Magnus copes with his discovery, as well as how famous Norse gods such as Thor and Loki are trying to either save the world or bring destruction to it.
The Wizard Knight - Gene Wolfe
Speaking of young boys who become the main characters of fantasy novels, this next book series from Gene Wolfe called The Wizard Knight is a complex, well-thought-out, and detailed story revolving around an American kid. Basically, this young boy was brought from his ordinary world into a magical one and aged manually.
In this legendary story, there are gods and other mythical creatures from various folklores, including Norse myths. And our kid is accepted as a wizard because the forces that brought him there are very close to him. Thanks to its liberal use of time flows and suspense, The Wizard Knight is an exciting read for every fantasy lover.
The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
Speaking of fantasy legendary fantasy books, this next one, The Broken Sword written by Poul Anderson was published alongside the legendary The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien. And it wouldn’t be an overstatement to claim that in terms of fantasy world complexity, The Broken Sword is roughly in the same league.
Long story short, The Broken Sword is about a Viking who slaughters the family of a Saxonian witch. In the act of revenge, the elves kidnap his son and replace him with a changeling. The destiny distorts itself in a way that the two sons ultimately meet one another on a battlefield, whose outcome will determine the fate of the world. As for the sword mentioned in the title, it implies Tyrfing, a legendary sword that Thor broke and is the main key to the mysteries underlying this novel.
The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M. Harris
Last, but certainly not least, a novel about the singular most treacherous god in the Norse mythology - The Gospel of Loki. Written by Joanne M. Harris, this novel is an autobiography narrated by Loki himself.
Loki, being a cunning god that he is, tells his story rather unreliably. At times, the narration is legit and believable, but at other times, it’s hard to believe his side of the truth. All in all, The Gospel of Loki is a modern-traditional narration story that has a celebrity memoir-feel to it. And since the Marvel comic book fans are really fond of Loki, this book will be a delight for them to read.
Norse mythology in its limelight
Norse mythology is as complex and tangled as it’s exciting to its “fan base”. Its famous gods - Odin, Thor, Loki, etc. - have become celebrities of their own, traveling from folklore to literature and movies.
The six sci-fi and fantasy books listed above are, in one way or another, borrowing the Norse myths for their plots. Be it the slightest mention or a complete foundation of the novel, these myths are driving a considerable part of the current entertainment industry.