I got three new reference books on Norse mythology over the past few weeks and as I work my way through them I wanted to share some of my thoughts. If you have any favorite books on the subject feel free to give them a shout-out in the comments.
This week I have been reading Norse Mythology by John Lindow and I am very happy with it. If you’re looking for complete tales of the various gods, giants and what-not it won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you want an encyclopedic reference to help further your understanding of the Norse mythos, I can heartily recommend this book. For example, if I look up Glitnir I find:
- it is the hall of Forseti, Baldr’s son.
- I am told what saga or sagas mention it, often with specific stanzas
- cross-references are given within the book (i.e. see also Forseti)
- other scholarly papers are listed where relevant
The book does more than list the people and places of the myths. There are chapters on The Nature of Mythic Time and The Importance of Norse Mythology, as well as other overarching themes. I have complained more than once about sources that don’t list where their information comes from and this book definitely does NOT have that problem.
A clear writing style with touches of humor, numerous quality illustrations, and further reading suggestions all combine to make Norse Mythology by John Lindow a solid reference. If you are looking for a book that covers Norse mythology from Æsir to Yngvi, this is an excellent choice.