A few years ago, I sat in a cafe in Bergen on the west coast of Norway, sipping a coffee and enjoying a small pastry. It was sweet and satisfying by itself; but I enjoyed it enough to order another; and then, another.

The stories within Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology are like this. Each story is short and easily consumable (about 10-25 pages) and stands on its own; but together, they weave an epic of the gods of Scandinavia.

We hear the adventures of Odin, Thor, Loki, Balder, and the gods of Asgard, along with the giants, dwarves, creatures, and sentient rocks and plants that inhabit their universe. We hear of shape-shifting and battles, and treachery, and love. We learn about the families of the gods and their births and their deaths.

Gaiman has inserted pagan gods into his books in the past (American Gods and Anansi Boys) and even written entire books around Thor, Loki, and Odin (Odd and the Frost Giants), but those books extended the legends of the deities, while this book pulls from the original source material - the oral stories recounting the adventures of these immortals, from the beginning of the world to Ragnarok - the final battle of the gods.

He does so with a voice that suggests these tales are told around a campfire at night.

Some of these stories were long familiar to me from the reading of my youth and some of them I had not heard. But all seemed fresh as told by Gaiman.

We have always known that Neil Gaiman knows how to tell a story. But with Norse Mythology, he proves that he can tell someone else's story.