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NESP Reviews


Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
by H. R. Ellis Davidson

Review by Alfta Svanni Lothursdottir

      When I first returned home to Heathenism the first book I read was "Gods and Myths of Northern Europe." It was given to me in barter for some graphics work I did for an acquaintance from Scandinavia. I am very grateful for that because still, today, I count this book as one of the best books written on our lore and one that I never hesitate to recommend to those new to our ways. H. R. Ellis Davidson (HRED) is one of the very few authors of whom I could say I would buy any book that has her name on the cover. There is no New Age drivel here. HRED gives the lore to you just as it was. Many authors who write books on our lore are guilty of adding to the lore in ways that range from personal observations to down right inventions. Some are more guilty of this than others. Although her personal opinions do not appear very often, Davidson clearly labels them as such. More than just about any other author you can depend on being able to find, in the lore, what she describes in her book. This is no dry scholars book either. Her style of writing is very readable. She also draws from her vast experience in the field to elucidate many aspects of the lore and culture of the Northern Europeans. So when reading this book you are getting more than just a retelling of the lore.
      Although I always recommend that those interested in the Heathen Way should read the primary sources before reading retellings of the lore, I do make the exception with this book. When a person first comes to the Heathen Way, all to often the Poetic Edda can be very daunting to understand. The Prose Edda is somewhat easier to understand but despite that there are many aspects of it that can be confusing to the beginner. Reading "Gods and Myths of Northern Europe" before tackling the Eddas can be a great help to the beginner and this is a route that I always recommend for beginners. This book is not just for beginners though. Those experienced in our lore as well as though just beginning will find something in this book to learn. Unlike many of HRED's books this book is still in print and readily available. This is one book that should be in every Heathen's Library.

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