From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths
I. B. Tauris
, 2007 - History
- 224 pages
Whether they focus on Thor's powerful hammer, the mysterious valkyries, the palatial home of the gods - Asgard - or ravenous wolves and fierce elemental giants, the Norse myths are packed with vivid incident. But at the centre of their cosmos stands a gnarled old ash tree from which all distances and times are measured. When the old tree creaks, Ragnarok - the end of the world and of the gods themselves - is at hand. It is from this tree that Odin, father of the gods, hanged himself in search of the wisdom of the dead: a disturbing image of divine sacrifice far removed from the feasting and fighting of his otherworld home, Valhalla. This is the first book to show how the Norse myths have resonated from era to era: from Viking-age stories of ice and fire to the epic poetry of Beowulf; and from Wagner's Ring to Marvel Comics' Mighty Thor. Heather O'Donoghue considers the wider contexts of Norse mythology, including its origins, medieval expression and reception in post-medieval societies right up to the present. From Asgard to Valhalla is a book that will intrigue and delight anyone with an interest in how the Norse myths have so profoundly shaped the western cultural heritage.