When someone asks me for something else like The Lightning Thief, my first thoughts are stories based on Norse mythology instead of Greek. A new book arrived at the library yesterday, the third in the RuneWarriors trilogy, with blurbs on the cover recommending it to Percy Jackson fans. But before I get to that, I must tell you about Odd and the Frost Giants.
We have it in the teen area as well as the children’s collection, since the author is so popular with teens, but I would say it is really for a slightly younger audience than The Graveyard Book. A young Viking is sidelined from running away by a trio of animals, who first reveal themselves to be talking beasts and then to be something even stranger.
Runemarks has been described (by Kirkus Reviews) as “The Lightning Thief meets The Sea of Trolls.” Another reviewer was reminded of elements in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, and the summary (with gods struggling in a world that largely doesn’t believe in them) makes me think of the adult novel American Gods. That may make it sound a bit dark, but Joanne Harris’s first book for younger readers is also supposed to be fast-moving and funny.
RuneWarriors by Jim Jennewein (or Shield of Odin if you read it in paperback) is the tale of teenage Dane who goes on a quest with his rival, Jarl the Fair, to retrieve the Shield of Odin and Astrid, the girl they love, from the tyrant Thidrick. This sounds like epic adventure, and it is, but that description doesn’t even mention the humor that adds so much to the story.
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer features an apprentice bard set on a quest by a queen who is half-troll (or, if you prefer, half Frost Giant) facing (in the best fantasy tradition) giant spiders and other monstrous creatures. Yet it still has, the School Library Journal reviewer claims, “plenty of lighthearted moments.”
Thor’s Wedding Day by Thialfi the Goat Boy as told to and translated by Bruce Coville
If you read Marvel comics, you already know that Thor’s hammer is magic, is named Mjollnir, and that it would be a very bad thing for him to lose it. Exactly what would he be willing to do to get it back? Would you believe wear a wedding dress?
Believe it or not, that story is based on an authentic Norse myth. I recommend the originals to anyone who enjoys the books above. As an added bonus, if you read some of the books below you’ll get more of the jokes in stories like Odd’s.
Favorite Norse Myths retold by Mary Pope Osborne
Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse by Leonard Everett Fisher
Norse Gods and Giants by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Odin’s Family: Myths of the Vikings retold by Neil Philip
Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth retold by Shirley Climo
While the library does not own any of these myths in an audiobook format, you can enjoy all of the junior fiction books listed here the way Norse myths were originally meant to be heard: out loud. If you have a favorite type of audiobook, it’s probably represented here. Odd and the Frost Giants is read by the author in his lovely British accent. Thor’s Wedding Day features a full cast reading the different parts. RuneWarriors is available as a Playaway. Each of the audiobooks received positive reviews, and Odd even earned an award!