Odd and the Frost Giants is a story written by Neil Gaiman in 2008 for the World Book Day. Gaiman is well known through the Amazon Prime series American Gods and Good Omens, which are based on his works. But he has also gained fame through the movies Stardust and Coraline based on his stories. I personally only became aware of him when I happened to get hold of his book on Nordic myths.
With only under 100 pages this book is a short story suitable for children. The edition was illustrated by illustrator Mark Buckinham. Even though this story is probably written for children, it also has its charm for adults. Gailman achieves this by making profound connections to Nordic myths and choosing timeless themes.
The story begins in a small Norwegian village during the Viking Age. The spring months have already begun, but there is still an unusually harsh winter. Odd has recently been half-orphaned, as his father was killed on a Viking journey. Therefore, to feed the family Odd’s mother decided to remarry. As many stepparents do, Odd is treated badly by his new stepfather and older stepbrothers and sisters. Unable to endure the verbal and physical violence, he takes off into the woods to his father’s hut, who was a mainly a forester and carpenter. There he meets three animal companions and together they get to the bottom of the origin of the continuous winter.
Gaiman has a deep knowledge of Nordic mythology which he proves in this story and has borrowed many characters from it. The plot is practically a continuation of several different myths. The whole cast of characters is extremely likeable, even the antagonist of the ice giant is not a blunt villain. And even if they give Odd a hand, his companions are no innocent. This gives them all a three-dimensional quality. However, the most interesting thing about Odd is that he is a disabled boy who bravely overcomes adventure not by brute force, but by his bright head.
And in my opinion, this underlines the most important theme of this book: It doesn’t matter what you are. It depends on what you make of it! And I consider this an important lesson. Therefore from me, absolute a reading recommendation!