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Publisher's Summary

Thor, Odin, Loki, Freyja, the Valkyries, Valhalla, Ragnarok — many of the places we encounter these and other names, places, and events from Norse mythology in daily life and pop culture are connected to the medieval sources in name only. 

Join Jackson Crawford, a translator of Old Norse, for a rousing introduction to the original stories, characters, and themes of Norse mythology in these 24 lectures. Packed with gods, anti-gods, magical figures, human heroes, religious practices, and literary devices, this course lays bare the reasons for our enduring fascination with these undeniably dramatic tales. It also connects the dots to Icelandic sagas of human heroes and to the culture and worldview of the Viking peoples. 

You’ll spend time in the company of an incredible pantheon of characters, including Thor, who wasn’t necessarily the god of thunder we think of him as, and Freyja, commander of the Valkyries (more a job with special perks than a species of creatures). You’ll also enjoy spirited retellings of stories where the first members of humankind are molded by the gods from two pieces of driftwood; Odin travels to Hel to dig up a dead witch and interrogate her about what his son’s premonitions of his own death means; and multiple generations of a marshy district in Iceland must deal with the ravages of an “again-walker” (akin to a zombie).

With his expertise, Dr. Crawford will deepen your acquaintance with these sources, and leave you with plenty to remember in the eerie tales and timeless wisdom of the Norse gods and heroes.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 The Great Courses (P)2021 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Norse Mythology

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Brilliant Course

This is a book if you want a good introduction to norse mythology, but even if you already know a lot about the norse world this is a great book.

Even if you already have a basic understanding about norse mythology I would highly recommend this book.

Jackson Crawford takes time to explain some of the basic belief in norse society and how that affects peoples moral codex and values and how again that affects how we should understand the norse mythology.

He also spends time on explaining the ties betwen the norse gods and their enemies. Why their enemies should not be called giants or frost giants, but instead anti-gods.

Jackson Crawfords take these small insights and build on them to give his listeners a whole new and unique perspective on norse mythology.

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Absolutely the definitive guide on the (not so) definitive myths

Jackson Crawford has perfectly melded the stories we love and admire with the critical narrative they oftentimes lack. He does so very clearly, and with the intent to separate what was "most likely" the original form, from what may have evolved through the telling. He cares not for our familiar comfort level of anglicized Norse pronunciation and romanticized ideas, and corrects us to the origins of Iceland and back through to the Germanic tribes of Scandinavia.
I appreciate his cut and dry "that's all we got" narrative just as much as his "this may mean."
What, in other hands may have ended up a yawnfest lecture, Crawford has transformed into a journey through time to peer over the shoulder and listen in on a raucous, good natured storytelling session, full of dumb courage and dreamlike plot twists, that somehow....is completely virtuous and logical. I am left feeling as if the Vikings had conquered the world instead of Christianity, we would all be happier and more whole.

4 people found this helpful

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Good introduction

to Norse Mythology. Not only did he give the stories, but he explained what is known of their historical context and what they implied about their society. He also was careful to delineate what was known and what was speculation which was something I really appreciated.

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Clear, concise, informative.

A true expert in his field offering clear, concise historical information without subjective opinions. Crawford is phenomenal in his presentation.

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Superb

Superb and entertaining exposition on Norse Mythology derived from primary and scholarly sources in literature, archaelogy, etymology and historical record.

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Good content, but...

The professor speaks very subdued, which makes the words a bit muddy and difficult to follow. The content is good, but he needs to speak more clearly and powerfully in the future.

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Refreshing journey through the myths and sagas of our past

This is highly recommended. Good content, good delivery by a person who is both occasionally funny and highly intelligent as well as committed to the subject on a scale that can only be called devotion

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Excellent lecture set.

This was very listenable and the series used original source material to bring separate Viking legends into focus. I really liked the comparisons used to relate feelings in a way we understand in modern popular culture it demonstrates a command of and comfort with the subject while it also shows the dark humor of Vikings.

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Fantastic

I was always fascinated about the Vikings or Norseman when I was in high school in the Philippines. Book Resources even in public libraries were not as complete nor sufficient to me. I find Professor Crawford’s lecture to be very informative overwhelmingly fascinating and uplifting. I will listen for more of his lectures. Awesome experience!!

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This is one of my favorites

This course has become one of my Great Courses favorites. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

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  • MR A PATTERSON
  • 12-12-21

Fantastic

This is easily the best audiobook I have came across so far on Audible for an overview of authentic Norse mythology. It really gets into the details (in an interesting and engaging way).

Jackson Crawford is well known as a reputable source on the subject matter, so for anyone who wants to learn more about Norse mythology, I highly recommend this. The same author also has Audible releases for some of the original source material.

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  • Martin Marsh
  • 08-07-22

One of the best teachers of Old Norse

Jackson Crawford is a gift to all who would study Old Norse. We can only hope for a future Old Norse course and syllabus from him.

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  • Fraser Haywood
  • 07-23-22

What it says on the tin

I've been a fan of Jackson Crawfords work on YouTube and already own physical copies of his translations of old Norse works, though this course condenses all of his teaching points available elsewhere on the Internet into an engaging sum of educational materials.

One minor gripe is that no one seemed to brief the guy introducing each lesson about the pronunciation of some of the old Norse words used by Dr Crawford...
It was a bit jarring in places.

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  • Andrew Rabbitt
  • 07-13-22

Fantastic stories, well explained

Dr Crawford delivers as always. A brilliant lecture series explaining the mythology well in an entertaining way, with Crawford's trademark dry wit and expert knowledge. Thank you!

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  • EmilyK
  • 07-10-22

good information but poor audio

Best parts:

- The professor is a brilliant expert on old Norse and Norse mythology. Although I was familiar with a lot of the stories, his connecting it to linguistics and literature was fascinating.

- The lectures were well organized and provided much more depth than a simple retelling. It reminded me a lot of Professor Vandiver on the Greek myths.

Challenging aspects:

- I absolutely could not hear this on a plane or bus or in the car. The professor’s soft-spoken delivery and the timbre of his voice got completely drowned out by transportation noise. It was also hard for me to listen to when I was falling asleep (which is the other time I typically listen to audiobooks) because of the delivery.

- if you look to great courses to help with homeschooling this probably isn’t where I would start. There are more accessible general introductions to the Vikings through Harl or the mythology and sagas through Drout.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-22

The perfect introduction to norse mythology

A wonderfully written intro to the stories about the norse gods and the world of the vikings.
And very well narrated by Professor Jackson Crawford

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  • m j browne
  • 05-17-22

Really annoying doesn’t download

First 4 chapters so good and then crash ! Lokey strikes, nothing beyond the 4th chapter. So so so annoying !

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  • D555
  • 05-02-22

very enjoyable intro to the topic

Jackson Crawford's lifelong passion for Norse Mythology shines through in the writing and performance. He brings the stories to life for a modern audience.

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  • Chros
  • 04-13-22

Valuable resource

Prior to this I'd never studied Norse mythology, though it's been around me for decades through metal bands such as Thyrfing, Bathory, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum and the more recent Brothers of Metal. I also read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. With that in mind, I found this series of lectures incredible.

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology serves primarily to entertain by sharing some of the greatest Norse myths in an easily accessible and often humorous way. In contrast, this series of well-structured lectures intends to give a much more solid foundation into Norse myth, sharing not only an overview of the myths themselves but insight into the whys and hows. For example, a lecture may first outline the main components of a saga (including its real world source), make the listener aware of any other versions of the saga, discuss the significance of each and theorise how the myths may have evolved over time. This scholarly approach often includes elements of linguistics and archaeology in addition to countless welcome tidbits. With this in mind, perhaps less than 50% total coverage is dedicated to the actual telling of Norse myth. I'd bear this in mind when considering starting out on this journey.

Jackson Crawford is an excellent lecturer even by Great Courses standards; he possesses a charming and unique accent (to a British listener) and his raw passion really comes through to assist in bringing the myths to life.

If internalising the information is a goal, I'd recommend doing no more than 1 lecture per sitting as with other Great Courses, taking notes and revisiting these notes before moving on to the next lecture. This is after all a lecture series and isn't designed to be devoured as a novel. It's worth noting that the accompanying PDF can also be fairly useful for consolidating information though I wouldn't recommend looking at this as you're listening.

The final lecture on 'The Enduring Appeal of Norse Mythology' gave me chills. It didn't fill me with a kind of sadness that often comes with finishing a great title but rather filled me with a drive to read translations of the Eddas and a wanderlust to visit the countries of Scandinavia. In this respect, the lecture series has achieved more than it intended.

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  • Puddingfox
  • 04-08-22

brilliant

loved this book really enjoyed it, I have a deeper desire To learn about norse mythology now.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-23-22

Truly magnificent

What more can I say it’s Jackson Crawford. There is nothing more that needs to be said.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-24-22

Superb

Being familiar with Crawford's work on YouTube, I was thrilled to discover that this was read by none other than the man himself, I love his down to earth grounded delivery, such that does in no way compromise the nature of the material.
Thank you for your work Dr Crawford.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-22

Excellent Lecture Series

An excellent lecture series that is well worth listening to. Many misconceptions I held about the Norse tales and myths have been dispelled and my understanding of the culture and language is much more authentic after this series. If you want to know where we get the myths from then starting here is an excellent choice.

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  • Kevin Wiltshire
  • 05-17-22

Fascinating, but also very hard to follow at point

i love norse mythology and study of their gods. i found this account very detailed, but to to the broken nature of the norse history and the way their stories are told it can also be hard to follow or understand