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A nice surprise at the library-- I don't know how I hadn't run into this one before, as it came out in 2005, but this is, in fact, Bruce Coville writing a children's-novel version of the Thrymskvitha.

That would be the story in which the giant Thrym steals Thor's hammer Mjollnir (or has it stolen), and insists on marrying Freya as the ransom-price. So Thor, with Loki's help, dresses up as Freya and goes to marry the guy himself, knowing that Mjollnir will be used in the wedding ceremony and so can be retrieved. Loki, of course, goes along as bridesmaid (it would not have been possible to keep him away), and there are a series of jokes involving the wedding feast in which the veiled Thor does something like eating an entire ox in one bite, the giants express amazement at Freya's appetite, and Loki has to explain that her love for the giant has kept from eating for a whole week before this. Things like that. It's one of the funnier Norse legends, without the bitchiness you get in the Lokasenna, and it's well before the death of Baldur and the Inevitable Looming Tragedies.

Coville's version is wittily written, pleasantly true to the original, and brings in several additional strands of myth-- probably to add length, but they all feel reasonable and natural. The book is narrated by Thor's goat-boy, Tialfi, who became a servitor in Asgard to make up for the unpleasant incident in which he accidentally lamed one of the goats, and that story gets told; we also get an explanation for how Thrym steals Mjollnir when no one but Thor using his belt of strength is supposed to be able to pick the thing up, and it is an explanation that makes sense. Tialfi is an enjoyable narrator, and Loki is Loki all over the place.

I didn't like the illustrations much, but that's a minor quibble.

And Coville gives his citations at the back. This goes on my list of actual quality books about Norse mythology-- it is not a long list. Probably best for a fairly young audience, and in keeping with its source material it does not have much emotional depth, but I was very happy with it anyhow.


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March 2017

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