Jamie (dubhlainn) wrote,

Book Review: Days in Midgard

I bought a book called Days in Midgard: A Thousand Years On. Modern Legends Based on Northern Myth by Steven T. Abell on a whim. It was suggested to me by that automatic suggestion thingy on amazon.com and it had good reviews so I purchased it. What I expected was one of two things. Either 1) it would be written by someone who liked Norse mythology but wanted to take all the power and presence of the Gods out of them by recasting it modern times or 2) it would be something like a mini - American Gods telling stories that had very little to do with the ancient myth but using some of the same characters. Either way, really, would have been fine with me actually. I think American Gods is a genius story and I firmly believe that mythology is meant to be told and retold again and again. As long as the author was honest about it I was cool with it.

That said, this is not all what the book, Days in Midgard, is about. The author, it turns out, is indeed a practicing heathen. He is a member of the Troth serving on the High Rede. This book was written from his storytelling work. Apparently for many years he has been compiling and telling these stories. They are not really about the Gods at all, mostly, but instead about people in the modern world who have experiences with them. Some of the stories are very unexpected and unique. Most of the stories, with one notable exception that takes place in 18 century Sweden, take place in a modern setting and, although not always in the United States, most of the characters are American. Several of the stories play off each other in unexpected and charming ways. All the while the Gods and Goddesses are presented in a fairly one dimensional way. This is not a bad thing, in this case, because in some ways they become just more scenery for the real story going on which is nearly always the folk who have encountered them.

Every two chapters Mr. Abell takes a short side-track to talk about his experiences and memories from visiting Iceland. He talks about it in a way that is beautiful and compelling and, at least for me, really makes you want to go there. And many of the stories tend to end abruptly but really they are open ended. The readers get the pleasure of completing or at least continuing the stories as their mind takes them. I found this kind of story telling very compelling.

The only disagreement I have with the author is that he implies in the introduction that having no knowledge of the Norse myths will not affect reading this book. I have to disagree, I feel that having some knowledge of the myths made the stories all that much more enjoyable.

I really enjoyed this book, am glad I took the chance, and highly suggest it.

Rating: 8 (out of 8) Pointed Star
Tags: book reviews
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