Book Review: Ragnarok

‘Ragnarok’ by A.S. Byatt

Since I’ve been living in Germany for 18 years now and am still confused about the myths and legends of the “Nibelungen” (on which Wagner’s Ring was based) I decided it’s about time I read them myself. While looking for a readable version – not too old language and not a simple child’s version – I came across this: ‘Ragnarok’ by A.S. Byatt. It tells the ancient Norse myth of Asgard and the gods, where the gods themselves are in the end destroyed and the world ends. It is pure coinicidence that this review is of a book also written by A.S. Byatt (see here for review of Byatt’s “A Children’s Book”)

I found the book both fascinating and grotesque, just as myths usually are. In fact I really felt I’d made a mistake. But I noted how thin the book was and persevered. I’m glad I did. The writing is fantastic. The author has such an amazing command of her lyrical prose. The pace is (in a positive way) exhausting… not a book for relaxing and spinning out. You have to read on and the momentum remains all through the book. I would recommend this simply because of A.S. Byatt’s excellent  language and style. The “Thoughts on Myths” section at the end of the book is also very interesting.