Saturday, July 26, 2008

Odd And The Frost Giants

Molly's reading shelf is a little like mine right now. At least half of it is waiting to be read. Everywhere we go, whether it's libraries, school, charity shops or the local independent bookshop; Simply Books, we seem to come back with something to read.

So it's no surprise that we've only just gotten around to finishing Neil Gaiman's World Book Day offering: Odd And The Frost Giants.

First off, the strangest thing about it was how I found myself reading it. I've recently listened to a couple of Gaiman's audio books and I found myself quite naturally reading it in his style. Not a problem as I would imagine it reads well when he reads it in his style as well. So for the past 5 nights, Molly and I have been immersed in the world of the Norse Gods. It's Molly's first meeting with them so her ideas and images of them were all new and based on what Gaiman gave her to play with. Mine though are all based on reading Marvel Comics' Thor as a child.

With Odd, Gaiman's taken the old Norse tale of the Frost Giant stealing both Thor's hammer and the Goddess Freya and shifted it slightly. No Thor in a dress for a start.

Odd is a strange boy, with an infuriating ability to smile a knowing smile guaranteed to annoy everyone. Odd's life has been anything but lucky so far; his father lost at sea, his leg crushed by a falling tree and his mother remarried to an boorish oaf. He's decided he's had enough and makes his way to his father's old woodcutting hut. Which is where he meets an Eagle, a Bear and a Fox who turn out to be Odin, Thor and Loki, all tricked into animal form by the Frost Giants, who've taken over Asgard and want the goddess Freya's hand in marriage. Now Odd, being Odd, simply decides that a trip to Asgard to free Freya, vanquish the Giants and return our three animal Gods to their right and proper form is the thing he should do so he sets about doing it.

Once there, Odd discovers it's not an army of Frost Giants who've conquered Asgard, but just one. And he's stuck through pride and an unwillingness to lose face. Frankly he's getting a little fed up with Freya as well, who hasn't stopped shouting at him yet. But how can a boy with only one good leg defeat a Frost Giant?

You won't be surprosed to know that Odd takes a very Gaimanesque path to this particular fight. It's a feature of Gaiman's work, and a commendable one, that his characters more often than not seem to think themselves out of a problem. And so it is with Odd.

Molly's long been a Neil Gaiman fan thanks to my insistence of giving her his books every opportunity I could. Luckily, she loves them all and it's still a special treat to curl up with Why I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish or Wolves In The Walls. Over time I can see Odd joining that list as well. Five nights of really great reading for £1. Marvellous.

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