A Handbook of Norse Mythology by Karl Andreas Mortensen is a compendium of Norse myth and mystery. This volume explores how Norse myths have been presented historically. The author also explores how these myths have taken shape in northern European countries as they establish a common foundation for all people who speak a Gothic-Germanic language (Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, etc.).
Mortensen looks at Norse myth's most famous tales, such as the origin myth or the story of how the world was created and examines popular mythological heroes and villains such as Thor, Odin, and Loki. In addition to exploring the stories in mythology, he also explores the relationship individuals have with the myths, the spiritual constructs, and the forms of worship utilized when honoring the Norse gods. Lastly, Mortensen explores some literature epics based in Norse Mythology. The epic poems he examines also go to show the origin of Norse mythology and the reaches of Norse mythology through other Germanic language speaking groups. The epic poems include: The Volsungs: a legendary saga about the origin and decline of the Volsung clan, written in a late 13th century Icelandic prose. The Helgi Sagas: about the Norse hero, Helgi Hundingsbane. Volund the Smith: detailing the legend of the master blacksmith. Beowulf: and Old English heroic epic poem set in Scandinavia.
Mortensen explains that there is a "rich variety of half-mythological, half-historical hero sagas" and the reader of this book should not limit themselves to only the sagas he explores, but should invest in other books to learn more about Norse Mythology. While he touches on many features of Norse mythology, A Handbook of Norse Mythology is meant to be a jumping off point in one's search for a better understanding of the historic myths from this part of the world.
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