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In this inventive, short, yet perfectly formed novel inspired by traditional Norse mythology, Neil Gaiman takes readers on a wild and magical trip to the land of giants and gods and back.

In a village in ancient Norway lives a boy named Odd, and he's had some very bad luck: His father perished in a Viking expedition; a tree fell on and shattered his leg; the endless freezing winter is making villagers dangerously grumpy.

Out in the forest Odd encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle—three creatures with a strange story to tell.

Now Odd is forced on a stranger journey than he had imagined—a journey to save Asgard, city of the gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.

It's going to take a very special kind of twelve-year-old boy to outwit the Frost Giants, restore peace to the city of gods, and end the long winter.

Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever . . .

Someone just like Odd .

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061964879
List price: $8.99
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It was probably more fun listening to Neil Gaiman read Odd and the Frost Giants than to read it. He's a good reader -- not all authors are good at reading their own work, but he is: he brings it to life, giving each character a distinctive voice without it sounding at all forced.

The story itself is a simple one, based on the gods of Norse saga with a few wry references to events mentioned in the Prose Edda (Loki turning himself into a mare, for example). There's a surprising number of references and jokes that are mostly meant, I think, for a more adult audience, even though the protagonist is a child and the story is relatively simple. Neil doesn't talk down to the child reader/listener, just talks to them, telling it straight. Very enjoyable.more
Each time I read something by Gaiman, I think, “This. This is where he excels.” Whether it's a fairy story (Stardust,) or a children's story (Coraline.) Or the melding of American Mythology with a new Mythology of his creation (American Gods, Anansi Boys.) Maybe it's something vaguely steampunkish and other-worldly, like Neverwhere. Sometimes it's when I revist the complexities in Sandman.

Or maybe I'm not actually that fickle, and I just like the way his phrasing and ideas are like mainlining story straight into my amygdalae, so most of the time it doesn't really matter what type of fiction he's writing this time.

I like best to listen to his novels in audio format; it makes me feel like I'm wrapped in a big quilt and being read to like a child.

Odd is another installment in his latest string of children's tales. This one borrows heavily from Norse mythology, but mostly through allusion to other, more established stories. I had to go look some of them up – like how Odin sacrificed an eye to gain knowledge and wisdom from Mímir's Well, and about Jötunheimr, the Land of Giants. I love that there's a deeper layer of complexity to the story – but only if the reader desires it. In this completely Gaiman-invented tale, Odd, a young woodcutter's son, runs away from a cruel stepfather, and ends up meeting Odin, Thor and Loki, who have been outsmarted by a giant.

I both read and listened to this tale, it's quite short. The audio file was well under 2 hours in length. I probably could have read it alone in far less than an hour. This edition has wonderful little pencil drawing illustrations by Brett Helquist, which underscore its suitability for children. And it is just wonderful for kids, without any focus on the darker themes present in Coraline, or even The Graveyard Book. I think it would make a fabulous springboard for homestudy elementary school children, as an introduction to mythology. This one really is for all ages.

Audio *****
Story *****
more
A charming little story about a twelve year old village boy named Odd. His father is dead and his leg is shattered and he has a habit of smiling in a way that infuriates those around him. Odd finds himself on a quest to help the gods Odin, Thor and Loki (who have been transformed into an eagle, bear and fox, respectively) take back their home from one of the Frost Giants.more
Everything I know about Norse mythology I learned from a superhero movie. Which, weirdly, helps a lot when you find yourself in the middle of a fairy tale -- that's probably not the slot it technically falls into, but I can't think of it as anything else -- that involves Thor and Asgard and the Rainbow Bridge, especially when the story is so short there's no space for the author to explain most of the mythology.

Odd and the Frost Giants was sitting on my bookshelf, ready to be returned to the library because Rabbit decided it was not for her, and I thought "SELF, YOU NEED TO READ SOMETHING ADORABLE" and decided to give it a go. Gaiman's story is, indeed, adorable. I liked it a lot. I don't know if I would have liked it as much if I hadn't seen Thor a couple of months ago; I probably would have been a little lost. Also, on the one hand, I wish Odd had been less of a hollow character, but on the other hand, the way he's written kind of works with the whole fairy tale thing.

The illustrations are charming, too. I think I'm eventually going to find a copy of this to stick on the bookshelf.more
Read all 68 reviews

Reviews

It was probably more fun listening to Neil Gaiman read Odd and the Frost Giants than to read it. He's a good reader -- not all authors are good at reading their own work, but he is: he brings it to life, giving each character a distinctive voice without it sounding at all forced.

The story itself is a simple one, based on the gods of Norse saga with a few wry references to events mentioned in the Prose Edda (Loki turning himself into a mare, for example). There's a surprising number of references and jokes that are mostly meant, I think, for a more adult audience, even though the protagonist is a child and the story is relatively simple. Neil doesn't talk down to the child reader/listener, just talks to them, telling it straight. Very enjoyable.more
Each time I read something by Gaiman, I think, “This. This is where he excels.” Whether it's a fairy story (Stardust,) or a children's story (Coraline.) Or the melding of American Mythology with a new Mythology of his creation (American Gods, Anansi Boys.) Maybe it's something vaguely steampunkish and other-worldly, like Neverwhere. Sometimes it's when I revist the complexities in Sandman.

Or maybe I'm not actually that fickle, and I just like the way his phrasing and ideas are like mainlining story straight into my amygdalae, so most of the time it doesn't really matter what type of fiction he's writing this time.

I like best to listen to his novels in audio format; it makes me feel like I'm wrapped in a big quilt and being read to like a child.

Odd is another installment in his latest string of children's tales. This one borrows heavily from Norse mythology, but mostly through allusion to other, more established stories. I had to go look some of them up – like how Odin sacrificed an eye to gain knowledge and wisdom from Mímir's Well, and about Jötunheimr, the Land of Giants. I love that there's a deeper layer of complexity to the story – but only if the reader desires it. In this completely Gaiman-invented tale, Odd, a young woodcutter's son, runs away from a cruel stepfather, and ends up meeting Odin, Thor and Loki, who have been outsmarted by a giant.

I both read and listened to this tale, it's quite short. The audio file was well under 2 hours in length. I probably could have read it alone in far less than an hour. This edition has wonderful little pencil drawing illustrations by Brett Helquist, which underscore its suitability for children. And it is just wonderful for kids, without any focus on the darker themes present in Coraline, or even The Graveyard Book. I think it would make a fabulous springboard for homestudy elementary school children, as an introduction to mythology. This one really is for all ages.

Audio *****
Story *****
more
A charming little story about a twelve year old village boy named Odd. His father is dead and his leg is shattered and he has a habit of smiling in a way that infuriates those around him. Odd finds himself on a quest to help the gods Odin, Thor and Loki (who have been transformed into an eagle, bear and fox, respectively) take back their home from one of the Frost Giants.more
Everything I know about Norse mythology I learned from a superhero movie. Which, weirdly, helps a lot when you find yourself in the middle of a fairy tale -- that's probably not the slot it technically falls into, but I can't think of it as anything else -- that involves Thor and Asgard and the Rainbow Bridge, especially when the story is so short there's no space for the author to explain most of the mythology.

Odd and the Frost Giants was sitting on my bookshelf, ready to be returned to the library because Rabbit decided it was not for her, and I thought "SELF, YOU NEED TO READ SOMETHING ADORABLE" and decided to give it a go. Gaiman's story is, indeed, adorable. I liked it a lot. I don't know if I would have liked it as much if I hadn't seen Thor a couple of months ago; I probably would have been a little lost. Also, on the one hand, I wish Odd had been less of a hollow character, but on the other hand, the way he's written kind of works with the whole fairy tale thing.

The illustrations are charming, too. I think I'm eventually going to find a copy of this to stick on the bookshelf.more
Good Norse-inspired short story. I was super-happy to find this after looking all over Wales! It was originally only available for students in the UK, but I believe it's being published for wider release in the US now. About time!more
This was one of the two Neil Gaiman books that I hadn’t read. (Interworld, I *will* get to you eventually.) Surprised that I didn’t get to it earlier, as it’s mythology and short and it’s Neil Gaiman.

Generally, I liked it. I’m not as familiar with Norse mythology, but the story gives enough information on who’s who and has the major elements of that pantheon. Odd reminds me a little of Coraline, as he’s another kid who’s shuffled around and ignored by the majority of his village and his step-family. Odd’s quieter and more introverted, though—he doesn’t really interact with anyone from his home and he just up and decides to run away. He seems almost too calm at times, particularly during the flashback when he shatters his leg. He’s a character who does think on his feet, but we don’t really see how his mind and logic works itself out.

I liked how the three Aesir (Odin, Loki, and Thor) are portrayed—they’re not the popular idea of Norse gods, nor watered-down versions of the ones who appear in American Gods. For someone just getting into Norse mythology, it’s a good introduction to the kind of characters they are. Thor’s big and slightly bulk-headed, Odin observes, and Loki is…Loki. Of the three, he’s my favorite just for half of the things that come out of his mouth. (See his retelling of why they’ve ended up on Midgard in the first place as animals.)

It’s a very light-hearted read. I didn’t feel like there was at much at stake whenever Odd goes to confront the Ice Giant controlling Asgard. There’s a little bit of trickery, and odd thinking on his feet, but it doesn’t feel like a life or death situation. (Although I do love the running gag of EVERYONE WANTS FREYA.) And Odd gets a slightly happy ending by growing physically bigger and the pain gone from his leg. I’m not adverse to happy endings, but the journey Odd takes in the course of the book doesn’t feel like he’s gone through much. His life was crap, sure, but there’s not much that he sacrifices in his quest to help the gods. And I just felt a little underwhelmed—this feels like there’s an epic story in this, but it’s whittled down to its barest bones. I want more from this story; I like the sample, I want to see what else this story can do.

I do like this book, but it does leave me wanting for a fleshed-out book that takes Odd and the others on much harsher journey. Apparently, Neil Gaiman wants to do more with Odd, and this does really read like an introductory story to a larger series.
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