Understanding Norse Myths

Overview

Ancient peoples created myths to help explain the world around them-creation, death and the underworld, seasons and agriculture, natural disasters, class structure in society, and commerce. Myths Understood features important myths from different ancient cultures and describes the roles and relationships of the gods that were the foundation of their religions.

Understanding Norse Myths explores the roles and relationships of the heroes and gods in ancient Norse myths and ...

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Overview

Ancient peoples created myths to help explain the world around them-creation, death and the underworld, seasons and agriculture, natural disasters, class structure in society, and commerce. Myths Understood features important myths from different ancient cultures and describes the roles and relationships of the gods that were the foundation of their religions.

Understanding Norse Myths explores the roles and relationships of the heroes and gods in ancient Norse myths and legends. Several ancient myths, including "Odin's Magical Horse," "Thor Goes Fishing," and "Sigurd the Dragon Slayer," are retold, describing how these stories helped people in early Scandinavia interpret their world.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Gods, heroes, monsters, giants, and dwarves—Norse myths explained creation, natural phenomena, life and death. In this profusely illustrated volume of the "Myths Understood" series, readers will discover creator giant Ymir of the melting ice, the nine worlds Norsemen imagined, including Muspelheim, land of fire, and Midgard, home of humans, held together by the great World Tree, Yggdrasil. A pantheon of gods was headed by one-eyed Odin (shown riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir), and includes trickster Loki, beautiful Baldur, and thunder-god Thor with his mighty hammer. Human fate was controlled by three Norns similar to Shakespeare's witches in Macbeth, while trolls, dragons, elves, snakes, and wolves abound. Many of the stories concern nature: geysers (as in Iceland), earthquakes, storms at sea, cracking ice; for example, the Valkyries, Odin's fierce daughters, galloped through stormy skies dropping hail from their horses' manes. Williams includes many other myths, such as the tale of hero Tyr, who lost an arm defending the gods against the ferocious wolf, Fenrir. In real life, Viking raids terrorized northern Europe and led to domination of England in the eleventh century. Norse people believed, however, that even the gods were fated to die in a great battle called Ragnarok. Color photos show Scandinavia's rugged northern landscapes and stunning artifacts like King Redwald's elaborate helmet from about 625 CE. Teens will be especially interested in the Viking legacy found in films (Lord of the Rings), literature (The Hobbit), computer games (Tomb Raider: Underworld), and designs for elaborate jewelry. Illustrations are well chosen, though paintings, drawings, and artifacts should be labeled with artists (when known) and dates. Included are an interesting timeline and bibliography. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Gods, heroes, monsters, giants, and dwarves—Norse myths explained creation, natural phenomena, life and death. In this profusely illustrated volume of the "Myths Understood" series, readers will discover creator giant Ymir of the melting ice, the nine worlds Norsemen imagined, including Muspelheim, land of fire, and Midgard, home of humans, held together by the great World Tree, Yggdrasil. A pantheon of gods was headed by one-eyed Odin (shown riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir), and includes trickster Loki, beautiful Baldur, and thunder-god Thor with his mighty hammer. Human fate was controlled by three Norns similar to Shakespeare's witches in Macbeth, while trolls, dragons, elves, snakes, and wolves abound. Many of the stories concern nature: geysers (as in Iceland), earthquakes, storms at sea, cracking ice; for example, the Valkyries, Odin's fierce daughters, galloped through stormy skies dropping hail from their horses' manes. Williams includes many other myths, such as the tale of hero Tyr, who lost an arm defending the gods against the ferocious wolf, Fenrir. In real life, Viking raids terrorized northern Europe and led to domination of England in the eleventh century. Norse people believed, however, that even the gods were fated to die in a great battle called Ragnarok. Color photos show Scandinavia's rugged northern landscapes and stunning artifacts like King Redwald's elaborate helmet from about 625 CE. Teens will be especially interested in the Viking legacy found in films (Lord of the Rings), literature (The Hobbit), computer games (Tomb Raider: Underworld), and designs for elaborate jewelry. Illustrations are well chosen, though paintings, drawings, and artifacts should be labeled with artists (when known) and dates. Included are an interesting timeline and bibliography. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—This is an attractive and well-designed series. Unfortunately the strict format severely limits its function. Each book presents the same topics in exactly the same way. The self-contained spreads do not carry information over a page turn, which creates an abrupt, stilted style. Readers are given ruthlessly summarized versions of the myths and legends that neither inform nor inspire, and the explanations are likewise loose or poorly connected due to the space limitations. Native American Myths is the most egregious title, since it attempts to present the disparate mythologies of thousands of different tribes, a scope that is impossible to fulfill in a substantial way. In each volume, page seven includes a map regardless of whether or not it provides meaningful engagement with the text. In Mesoamerican Myths, it defines the lands and "sites" of the three main cultures addressed in the book: Olmec, Maya, and Aztec. No definition or explanation is given as to what these sites mean or why they occur outside a given culture's territory. In Native American Myths, it shows the main geographical regions of North America and indicates that, "Native peoples and tribes are usually referred to by region." However, the regional groups described in the text do not correspond with the legend on the map. Because it deals with a single culture, Norse Myths fares the best, but even so would be of little use to readers unless they were already familiar with the literature. Readers will gain little understanding of these myths here.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, White Bear Lake, MN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778745327
  • Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/15/2012
  • Series: Myths Understood Series
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 988,876
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

What are Myths? 4

What are myths and how have the Norse myths come down to us today? What do the Norse myths explain and what thrilling stories do they tell?

Viking Scandinavia 6

Where the Vikings came from, how far they traveled, and how their harsh landscape shaped their myths. The Viking myth of how the world was created.

Religion and Gods 10

The many gods and goddesses in Norse myths: who they all are and what forces they control. How the gods quarrel and fight one another.

The Natural World 16

How the Norse myths explain the workings of the natural world such as the melting of the winter ice, the tides, and earthquakes.

Daily Life 24

Family life, the changing seasons, and other aspects of daily life in Norse times, and how the different myths made sense of it.

Into Battle 34

Viking raids and battles, and the weapons the Vikings used to overwhelm their opponents. The myth of Ragnarok, the battle at the end of the world.

Norse Legacy 40

How Norse culture, myths, and beliefs remain alive today in books, movies, games, and music. Modern words and place names that have Norse origins.

Time Chart 45

Glossary 46

Learning More 47

Index 48

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