Classics Retold: Norse Mythology

I love remixes on classics as much as I love the classics themselves. Though our world continues to change and evolve, certain stories remain with us. The morals and conflicts in so many of them are universal and can be adapted to modern times. When I heard about the Classics Retold project, I knew I was in. The only trouble was picking just one classic to focus on!

You can sign-up for a classic at the following blogs through May 25th, and then you have all summer to read several retellings (movies count too!) and then post reviews or other features throughout the month of September.

For details on signing up and the challenge, check out these posts: Alyssa on Ancient to Renaissance Lit Classics, Brittany on Mythology, Charlene on 19th Century and Gothic Classics, Alison on Children’s Classics, and Wendy on American & Misc. Classics.

I wanted to pick a classic that would push me out of my reading comfort zone and inspire me to try something new, and while I’ve always had a love of mythology, I know the least about Norse mythology, so that’s what I ended up choosing.

I’ve read the slim Norse section in Edith Hamilton’s classic Mythology, but I plan to read and evaluate the best nonfiction sources on Norse mythology from both the adult and children’s section in order to round out my knowledge of the source material that has inspired retellings in various forms.

My goal was to read at least one adult novel, graphic novel, young adult novel, and middle grade novel, but I’m having trouble coming up with a good adult retelling. If you have any ideas, be sure to let me know in the comments!

GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Life Eaters by David Brin and Scott Hampton 

Based on the Hugo-nominated novella by best-selling author David Brin, “Thor Meets Captain America,” THE LIFE EATERS is an incredibly imaginative tale that uses stunning artwork to explore Germany’s embracement of necromancy to win World War II. In this enthralling historical fiction, Adolf Hitler devises an unholy plot that pits the ancient Norse gods against the Allied forces. But after quickly gaining advantage and ground against his enemies, the Fuhrer’s mystical strategy suddenly backfires when the food of the gods runs short. Now with the enraged mythological icons on a desperate search for nourishment, Germany becomes involved in a secondary war of truly epic proportions as Norse and Hindu gods battle for survival sustenance.

The Gods of Asgard by Erik Evenson

Journey to the frozen lands of northern Europe, where mighty gods battle fearsome monsters for control of the earth and the worship of mankind. But tragedy strikes as the Gods of Asgard fall not to their mortal foes, but the enemy within. Drawing from the original Norse legends, award-winning illustrator Erik Evensen gives us a glimpse into the legendary adventures of Thor, Odin, Loki, and the rest of the Norse gods with his graphic novel adaptation of the classic myths.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Maddy Smith was born with a rusty-coloured runemark on her hand – a symbol of the old gods and definitely cause for suspicion. For magic is dangerous. Or so everyone thinks. But Maddy enjoys working magic. Even if it is just to control some pesky goblins. And every time her friend, One-Eye – a good-for-nowt Outlander – comes by, he teaches her more and more about the gods and the runes. Now he wants Maddy to open Red Horse Hill and descend into World Below to retrieve a relic of the old gods. Otherwise it is likely to be the End of Everything.

Starling by Lesley Livingston

Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name–the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason’s world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn’s identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason’s family–with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods–is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston’s epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson 

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

The Lost Son by Tessa Gratton

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood–the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd’s Academy. But that’s hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That’s not all Astrid dreams of–the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they’ve been told they have to be.

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Loki’s Wolves by K. L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters–wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history–because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids–led by Matt–will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

The winter isn’t ending. Nobody knows why.
And Odd has run away from home, even though he can barely walk and has to use a crutch.
Out in the forest he encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle – three creatures with a strange story to tell.
Now Odd is faced with a stranger journey than he had ever imagined.
A journey to save Asgard, City of the Norse Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
It’s going to take a very special kind of boy to defeat the most dangerous of all the Frost Giants and rescue the mighty Gods. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever.
Someone just like Odd…

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Jack was 11 when berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. Now in 793 AD, Jack and his little sister Lucy are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow, and his fierce young shipmate Thorgil. Alongside the crow “Bold Heatt”, they learn to “Just say no to pillaging.”

bluedots

I’m really looking forward not only to diving into Norse mythology and its retellings, but reading the myriad of other posts and getting to know some new blogs better through this project. I’m hoping to feature not only reviews, but some comparisons between these different retellings, but dispel some misunderstandings about Viking history and Norse mythology—and hopefully some other surprises. I’ll also be looking at a couple movies (right now I can think of Thor with Chris Hemsworth and The Mask with Jim Carrey.)

If you’ve signed up for the Classics Retold project, let me know what you’re reading! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

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12 thoughts on “Classics Retold: Norse Mythology

  1. As you know, I’m so excited for this project, and as a huge fan of Norse mythology, I’m really pumped for all of your posts especially! I was lucky enough to meet all of your target categories for my own project, but like I said, I can’t think of an adult Norse mythology book! All’s I can think of is adult books that involve Norse mythological characters (Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, American Gods), but aren’t solely Norse focused. Two of my favorite books though, so still recommended if you’re in a pinch. :P

  2. I was SO TEMPTED to sign up for Tristan and Iseult (my personal favorite myth) or something else medieval, but ended up going for Othello since I’ve been meaning to read it for years and I could always use more Shakespeare in my life! It’ll be interesting, because I usually ignore the Renaissance and only pay attention to ancient history to the extent that the fall of Rome fed into the Middle Ages, but I guess it couldn’t hurt to go outside my comfort zone!

    I look forward to reading your posts. Norse mythology is something I know nothing about :)

  3. Great post, I’m looking forward to your reviews. I love mythology, retellings and the originals, particularly Nordic and Celtic mythology. I also have a huge fascination with Loki and tricksters in general. :)

  4. Oh very cool!!! I was actually really interested in Norse mythology because I know so little about it. I can’t wait to see your posts! Thanks so much for signing up!!!!

  5. I don’t think I can manage to do another challenge. May’s a packed month :(
    But it’s great that you’re doing it! I’d love to read Gratton’s book and I keep meaning to pick up Valkyrie Rising.

  6. I’ve seen this project mentioned by so many bloggers I love, and I finally couldn’t help myself. I think it was pulling together Shakespeare adaptations that finally got me hooked for real: I’m going to be reading “Hamlet” and adaptations thereof (and almost certainly watching “The Lion King” because duh).

    I like that you’re making a point to do titles for different reading levels. I may have to borrow that approach…

  7. Norse mythology is awesome (even more awesome because it’s not something that too many people are familiar with). I’ve also read Edith Hamilton’s section on Norse mythology in her Mythology, as well as the section in Bulfinch’s Mythology. To be honest, I haven’t really encountered many retellings of any of the tales that sound interesting to me – so I’ll definitely be sure to check out what you end up reviewing, Molly! I’m participating in this as well – reading Virgil’s The Aeneid. Project Fairy Tale was lots of fun so I can’t wait for Classics Retold to start! :)

  8. I WANT TO READ ALL OF THESE BOOKS!!! I think I will be guest posting SOMEWHERE for mythology because I love those retellings!! This was a great post, and I am SO glad that you are joining us!!

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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