Synopsis: Greedy, cruel and foolish, the Gods deserve to die … From the Booker Prize-winning author of Possession and The Children’s Book comes a mesmerising tale of the end of the gods and the destruction of life on this planet. Into her version of Ragnarök, surely one of the most thrilling and apocalyptic of myths, A.S. Byatt weaves the story of a young girl evacuated to the British countryside during the Second World War. Struggling to make sense of her life, she is given a book of Norse myths, and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.
Title: Ragnarök: The End of the Gods
Author: A.S. Byatt
Publisher: Canongate Books
Told through the eyes of a girl in wartime Britain, Ragnarok introduces the reader to Nordic mythology. The girl, known as the thin child, finds a book titled ‘Asgard and the Gods’ in the house she is evacuated in and we learn the stories as she reads them.
Shamefully, all I know of Nordic mythology is what Hollywood has taught me through watching Thor. Once introduced to the myths and legends, I was hooked; and being the greedy reader I am, this small book just wasn’t enough. This is my only criticism.
Given that it’s such a small book, Byatt manages to reweave the Norse cycle of myths from the creation story of Yggdrasil, to the tale of the great serpent, Jörmungandr, to the finale, Ragnarök: The End of the Gods. Getting so much into so few pages is, in my opinion, a feat of epic proportions.
This is a beautiful little book (the cover is gorgeous); and is brimming full of amazing, stunning, powerful, strange, twisted, beautiful, dangerous, dark, and tangled imagery.
I’ve already bought The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by Byatt to read and am looking for more books on Nordic mythology. Recommendations are, as always, welcome.