Nordic Gods and Heroes

by Padraic Colum

Paperback, 1996



Call number

293 Col

Call number

293 Col

Local notes

293 Col





Dover Publications (1996), Paperback, 304 pages


A retelling of the Norse sagas about Odin, Freya, Thor, Loki and the other gods and gaddesses who lived in Asgard before the dawn of time.

Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 8.04 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member texascheeseman
The Children of Odin:
The book of Northern Myths
Author: Padraic Colum
Publisher: Collier Books - Macmillan Publishing Company
Published In: New York
Date: 1920 / 1948
Pgs: 163


A retelling of the Norse Myths. The building of Asgard. Iduna. Loki. Sif. Freya. Frey. Gerda.
Show More
Giants. Heimdall. Odin. Thor. Baldur. Sigmund. Valkyries. And the Twilight of the Gods. The stories that Vikings shared around lodge fires. Stories that lit their wanderlust and kept them warm and reaching for more beyond the circle of fire.

Ancient Knowledge
Gods and Goddesses
Historical fiction
Religion and Spirituality

Why this book:
I am fascinated by mythology in all cultures.

Favorite Character:
Odin, Loki, Heimdall, Tyr...and many more.

Least Favorite Character:
Thor. In the myths, he seems like a real hammerhead.

The Feel:
There is an edge of wonder in these tales making them every bit the match of the Roman and Greek tales that I’m more familiar with.

Well paced.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
The repetitive trusting of Loki after he had been revealed to be what he was. And the way that the Asgardians used Loki’s deceitfulness to their advantage and then were surprised that it was used against them.

Hmm Moments:
Did Loki in the guise of the little mare have sex with the giant horse Svaldifare?

The story The Building of the Wall shows the Gods of Asgard as oathbreakers. But it also shows them as fools for striking a bargain with the Giant to build the wall without knowing his price in advance. (Trying to ignore the echoes of wallbuilding and not knowing the price in American politics right now). And they take advantage of Loki’s guile and rejoice in it making them hypocritical when he does the same thing to them later on.

Loki comparing Idunna’s apples to the apples he had seen earlier that day beyond the walls of Asgard. He appleshamed her into falling into the Giant’s trap. The apple comparison makes me wonder if we’re talking about apples or if I just have a dirty mind. After she is taken by the Giant, the whole her apples only glow when she gives them to you versus when her apples are taken against her will, so are her apples a metaphor for virtue, for life, for drugs, for sex, for her breasts.
There are many ways to interpret the story of Idunna. Case could be made for the apples being drugs and the Gods of Asgard as addicts who only “come alive” when Idunna gives them her apples.

Wow. The Asgardians defenestrating Ymir after the first war with the Giants. And using his body, bones, and hair to fill in the hollow spots, build the mountains, the rocks, the trees, and all of Midgard. That is such a gross origin of the world.

Odin and Gunnlod’s tale and how wisdom is made from the blood of poets could be seen as a justification of cannibalism.

The story of Vegtam the Wanderer/Odin visiting his son Vidar, the Silent God. The leather leavings when shoemakers make shoes to be taken up and made into Vidar’s sandals. The sandals that Vidar will wear on the day he avenges Odin’s death, on the day Vidar kills Fenrir.

Thor losing Mjolnir and having to, at Loki’s urging, engage in a transvestite drag masquerade and Giant betrothal ceremony all because he got drunk, re: roofied, and let his hammer be taken by a Giant is greatness. And Loki wanting to tag along in all his shapechanging, transexual glory makes me think of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Considering the rampant penis allegory that is Thor, his hammer being taken from him by a Giant while he is drunk...draw your own conclusions.

The Thor of the Sagas isn’t very smart. He repeatedly falls for this trap or that. He continually trusts Loki at his word.

Loki-quakes, Loki being blamed for earthquakes, and the Sisyphusian punishment that the Asgardians meted out on him. Siguna’s role mimicking the rock rolling back down the hill when she would have to empty the poison cup and the venom would drip into Loki’s face until her return. The Asgardians created their Frankenstein in Loki through their various ignoble deeds. Reading this causes me to look on Asgard in a far different light. Marvel’s interpretation of Thor owes little to this iteration. Though Odin’s capriciousness marks him as more in line with his mythic idiom.

Last Page Sound:
Sleeping Beauty, Adam and Eve, and The Book of Revelations...all three and more were here under slightly different circumstances and in slightly different forms.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
real classic

Disposition of Book:

Would recommend to:
Show Less
LibraryThing member mwittkids
An excellent retelling of the Norse sagas about Odin, Freya, Thor, Loki, and other gods and goddesses who the Vikings believed lived in Asgard before the dawn of time.
LibraryThing member flutterbyjitters
Excellent introduction to norse gods and heroes. very quick read. definitely worth the read
LibraryThing member E_Richard_Hansen
This is a quite literary version of northern mythology for children, no doubt because of Padraic Colum's poetic pedigree. The illustrations are more relaistic than those by the d'Aulaire's. These images are much more refined, tasteful, lofty.
LibraryThing member auntieknickers
Colum was an excellent reteller of folk tales and I was happy to see that this book, which I bought as a library discard, is still widely available.
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Norse mythology retold as a very satisfying prose narrative by Irish writer Colum. It has remained a favorite since its first publication in 1920. Like the D'Aulaires, he draws upon the material of the Eddas with the addition of the heroic tales of Sigurd, the Volsungs, the Nibelung, and their
Show More
cursed treasure.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jen.e.moore
A fairly usual collection of Norse god stories (sanitized, of course, as this is for children), plus Sigurd of the Volsungs stuck in there at the end.
LibraryThing member ML-Larson
It's a decent primer, but should be treated like Baby's First Edda. The stories told are the most popular attestations, and therefore the most Christian attestations, and are simplified in a way that might better appeal to children than to adults. While I wouldn't discount it entirely, it's not
Show More
something that should be used for any real scholarly purpose either. If you have a passing interest in the Norse pantheon, it's a great place to start.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LopiCake
Norse mythology is great! :D Except I swear, every female goddess/mortal cries at the littlest thing.
Sif: "Omg my hair isn't golden anymore, you won't love me, Thor, anymore so I'm just going to lock myself away because being blonde is everything."
Idunn: "Omg someone's apples are better than mine?
Show More
/slits wrist"

I wonder if Greek mythology is this dramatic, ahaha. Who am I kidding? They're probably more dramatic.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Sylvester_Olson
Years and years ago my mother found a copy of this being sold from a high school library and bought it for me. I never got around to reading it, though. I loved mythology, but my high school mythology teacher had recently ruined the subject for me so I wasn't really interested in touching it. Years
Show More
have gone by, though, and I decided to give it another whirl. I think Padraic Colum did a good job retelling the various myths from the Eddas and sequencing them in a rational order so that their telling made sense. It continues to strike me how the ancient Norsemen had a completely different conception of beginning-middle-end from our own. For example, the whole tale of the Volsungs is a mess by modern standards (with the first half consisting of a mythological hero who fights a dragon and the second half involving the deceased hero's widow plotting revenge on Attila the Hun - where the hell is narrative consistency in that?). But Colum presents the tales in such a way that it actually makes sense, even though it requires some narrative license to pull it off.

4/5 stars
Show Less




½ (89 ratings; 3.8)
Page: 0.1528 seconds