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Ragnarok: The End of the Gods    by A. S. Byatt order for
by A. S. Byatt
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

When the author was a young girl her mother gave her Asgard and the Gods, a book of ancient Norse myths. Later, as a famous author her publisher asked her to write about a myth for a series they had developed. The request resulted in her version of Ragnorak, the myth in which the Gods themselves were destroyed.

Byatt writes the book from the eyes of a very young impressionable girl who reads the book secretly by the light from under her bedroom door. This takes place in wartime London. During the horror of the war the child takes solace in the greater terror and wrath of the Norse Gods.

The writing in the book is marvelous. Very poetic and musical; reading it one almost feels as if one should be reading the words aloud to another, especially to a child. But essentially this is a retelling of myths and may not be to everyone's liking. There is no story line unless reading about the midard serpent growing to the size of an estuary counts as plot. However, myths tell us about the world, good and evil, as well as offering bigger than life renditions of character who have their own way to captivate.

What makes this novel above average is the beautiful language and structure of the narrative.

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