Odd and the Frost Giants Paperback – Mar 3 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
But the indomitable pleasantness of Neil Gaiman's sunny little Norseman is part of what makes "Odd and the Frost Giants" such a memorable story. Originally writing for the UK's World Book Day, Gaiman smoothly wove together Norse legend with exquisite prose and a quirky sense of humor. It's a glittering, icy story with a warm heart.
The Viking village that Odd lives in is wrapped in a freakishly long winter, which is threatening them with starvation. Since people are treating him even worse than usual, he goes off to live by himself in his father's old woodland cottage -- and after he rescues a bear with a trapped paw, he finds himself with three new animal roommates (the bear, a fox, and an eagle). They also talk.
It turns out that the three animals are not actually animals, but the mighty gods Thor, Odin and Loki. Loki was tricked into giving Thor's magical hammer to one of the Frost Giants, and all three were transformed into animals and banished from Asgard. Now the crippled "odd" boy must help the gods return to Asgard -- and somehow, he must also stop the Frost Giant that has conquered it.
The World Book Day is apparently to encourage children to read, but "Odd and the Frost Giants" is the kind of book that you don't need much encouragement to read. It's a truly enchanting, warm-hearted little fantasy story -- you've got magical animals that bicker relentlessly, a northern land locked in perpetual winter, and a trip to the world of the gods.
Though the story is his own, Gaiman wraps it around some real Norse legends (including the story of Asgard's wall and Mimir's Well).Read more ›
The art is a nice complement to give some visuals to the story.
NOTE: Another great book by Gaiman is 'Fortunately, the Milk' - very funny and great art too.
My child really enjoyed this book and probably will again and again. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and I am extreamly happy to be introducing him in such a fun way to my son.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gaiman wrote Odd and the Frost Giants as his personal contribution to World Book Day in the United Kingdom, which exists purely to inspire children to read. It's an annual event where a group of authors write books for nothing and publishers publish them for nothing. These books are then sold for £1 each to children who have been given £1 Book Tokens. On its website, the World Book Day organization ([...]) describes it as "the biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading."
Regrettably, at least for US residents, there are no current plans to publish this charming, 14,500 word novelette in America. Happily, the book is available through Amazon.uk and it's only £1, a bargain even with current exchange rates. Be warned, however, the shipping charge will make the final cost seem relatively steep.
The good news is that it's worth the cost: the story, enhanced by several illustrations from frequent Gaiman collaborator Mark Buckingham, is delightful.
As you may have guessed from the title, the novelette deals with characters from Norse myth, a subject Gaiman became entranced with at a very young age. It tells the story of the crippled Viking boy Odd, who, running away from home, is befriended by a group of forest animals--a fox, a bear, and an eagle--who are far more than they seem. In truth, they are the Norse gods Loki, Thor, and Odin, respectively. Hoodwinked by a crafty and vengeful Frost Giant, they have been transformed into animals and exiled from Asgard. Odd offers his help, and travels with the gods from Midgard to their homeland of Asgard, where the plucky lad plans to bargain with the Frost Giant in attempt to save the day.
No more about the story, you'll have to discover its significant pleasures on your own. Be assured though that this is vintage Gaiman, a lively, memorable tale that, although modern in its sensibilities, treats its source material in a respectful, affectionate, and humorous manner, making that material more accessible for modern readers, many of whom are likely encountering these characters and settings for the first time.
A good example of how Gaiman imbues his characters with personality is shown in this scene were the boy Odd is woken by the sounds of voices in the hut where he has taken refuge along with a strange trio of animals:
"It's because of you we're in this mess."
"I thought we had a deal. I thought we weren't going to keep harping on about a trivial little mistake..."
"You call this trivial?"
And then a third voice, high and raw, screeched.
There was silence. Odd rolled over. There was a glow from the fire embers, enough to see the inside of the hut, enough to confirm to Odd that there were not another three people in there with him. It was just him and the fox and the bear and the eagle...
Whatever they are, thought Odd, they don't seem to eat people. He sat up, leaned against the wall. The bear and the eagle both ignored him. The fox darted him a green-eyed glance.
"You were talking," said Odd.
The animals looked at Odd and at one another. If they did not actually say "Who? Us?" it was there in their expressions, in the way they held themselves.
"_Somebody_ was talking," said Odd, "and it wasn't me. There isn't anyone else in here. That means it was you lot. And there's no point in arguing."
"We weren't arguing," said the bear. "Because we can't talk." Then it said, "Oops."
The fox and the eagle glared at the bear, who put a paw over its eyes and looked ashamed of itself.
Odd sighed. "Which one of you wants to explain what's going on?" he said.
"Nothing's going on," said the fox brightly. "Just a few talking animals. Nothing to worry about. Happens every day. We'll be out of your hair first thing in the morning."
The eagle fixed Odd with its one good eye. Then it turned to the fox. "Tell!"
The fox shifted uncomfortably. "Why me?"
"Oh," said the bear, "I don't know. Possibly because it's _all_your_fault_?"
Also, given that this story was intended to spur interest in reading, Gaiman succeeds at that as well, offering little tidbits such as this one that will entice younger readers to go beyond this story and read more:
"Old Odin left his chair, and walked towards them. He wiped the goose grease from his mouth with his sleeve, smearing even more grease all over his grey beard. He said, quietly, into Odd's ear, 'Do you know what spring it was you drank from, boy? Where the water came from? Do you know what it cost me to drink there, many years ago?'"
Gaiman leaves the questions unanswered. It is not hard to imagine any number of curious readers going on to find the answers themselves by reading the original Norse mythological tales that provided the background and setting for this new one.
All in all, a pure pleasure to read, with very nice illustrations by Brett Helquist. Highly recommended.
In general, I find that Gaiman does adult novels and comics better than he does children's books. At least, I used to feel that way until the awesomeness of the Graveyard Book. This book aims at a younger audience than that of the graveyard book and still manages to be fantastic for an adult audience.
With Odd and the Frost Giants, Neil Gaiman shows that he is, indeed, able to take the awesomeness of his ideas and make them accessible to children. And yet, through it all, he throws in the occasional reference that children may not understand (and don't need to understand to appreciate the book) but that leave the adult riveted through the entire epic journey.
All in all, this book ends up being the perfect read for a mother or father to read to their child. Or for a child just getting into books. Or for an adult with a quick half hour in the waiting room.
It was just wonderful.
I don't think any more needs to be said. :-)
It's a cute story, but just too short for my liking. I didn't have enough time to really start caring about the characters, and I would have liked to get a bit deeper into the mythological background. For example, the title character encounters a pool of water with various magical properties, and there's reference to a great cost that one of the gods had to pay to drink from the pool at some point, but we never get more than this vague allusion to its history. Maybe someone more familiar with Norse myth would have appreciated this as a sort of inside joke, but I was just left with the feeling that I had missed something. Also, there were occasional very modern-sounding phrases that I found a bit jarring.
So overall, while I don't regret the short time spent reading this, I can't say I was very impressed. I enjoyed Gaiman's other children's books more.
As a bitterly cold winter tenaciously refused to let go of its hold on the land, Odd gathered some food and ran away to his father's cabin in the woods to live by himself. You can imagine Odd's surprise when he encounters three talking animals - a fox, a bear and an eagle - surprise that turns into a blend of astonishment and fear when learns that the animals are, in fact, gods. Thor, Odin and Loki, defeated by their nemesis, the Frost Giants, were tricked into assuming these animal forms and banished from Asgard, the traditional home of the Norse gods. In a wonderfully endearing and very modern twist on the David vs Goliath theme, Odd enters Asgard to help the gods win back their ancestral home, outwit the Frost Giants and, in the bargain, release winter's deadly grip on his home village.
ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is an inventive, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining allegory that an adult can comfortably read in the company of even the youngest beginning readers in the family or enjoy on their own as a short, enjoyable fantasy. A charming and yet comfortingly realistic ending will put a smile on every reader's face.