I haven’t read that many books in the past year. I spent more time reviewing comics for reviewfix.com than reading novels. I can count on one hand the number of novels I’ve read this past year. One of those novels is Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman and I can say without hesitation that this was the best book I’ve read that year.
Odd, whose name means “the tip of a blade,” is a Viking’s child whose dad died while at sea. He also busted his leg cutting down a tree that was way too big for him. One day while spending time in the shack his dad used to carve wood, he meets a fox who leads him to a trapped bear and an eagle. That night after helping the bear, odd hears these three animals talking. They’re the Norse gods Odin (eagle,) Thor (bear) and Loki (fox.) Loki, like an idiot, gave an ice giant disguised as a pretty lady Mjolnir which caused the ice giant to take over Valhalla and kick out the three gods. Now Odd has to help them get back to their rightful places and, on top of that, end an endless winter.
As I’ve said previously, Neil Gaiman is either hit or miss and when he hits, he hits hard. This is one of those hits. If you’ve read enough of Gaiman, you’d know that it’s amazing when he writes anything about Norse mythology. Just like his novel turned comic book Norse Mythology. One thing that makes this book interesting is that these gods are not at their full power because of their animal forms. This framing device gives a new character, usually a normal human, time to shine. Sometimes people will use this to make a new character they created into a Mary Sue/Gary Stu, destroying any entertainment value in the story. Here, Odd isn’t a Gary Stu because the stuff he does are mundane things like wood carving which he learned from his dad.
Odd also has a knack for smiling at the wrong time, which is an unintentional mind trick. And it works. That’s where Gaiman shows off his storytelling chops because he knows there’s no way a normal human CHILD with a bum leg and ZERO combat experience with a weapon. He needs to outsmart them. This comes into play at the end of the book and the way it’s done is clever.Odd and the Frost Giants is the first book in a long while I couldn’t put down. Gaiman created another hit using Norse mythology and, while it is a common plot, manages to make it go above and beyond what most people can do with this kind of plot.
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