A Handbook of Norse Mythology

While in Portland for the UUA’s General Assembly, I of course went shopping at Powell’s City of Books. I’ve been there once before, and what a treat it is. (They also do mail-order of new and used books.) Among the books I bought was a Dover reprint of Karl Mortensen’s 1912 A Handbook of Norse Mythology, translated from the Danish by A. Clinton Crowell. I remember D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths quite fondly from childhood, and I was looking for a good source of northern-European names and folklore for, erm, “inspiration” in Second Life. (Part of the modest role-play I engage in has me a part of House Heidrun. Heidrún is a goat at Valhalla that produces never-ending mead.)

This slim book lays out the basic mythology of the nordic peoples in a very straightforward way, including some assessment of the layers of mythology and the changes over time–like the promotion of Odin to the head of the pantheon following earlier focus on Thor. A happy purchase.