Synopses & Reviews
Booker Prize winner Dame Antonia Byatt breathes life into the Ragnorak myth, the story of the end of the gods in Norse mythology.
Ragnarok retells the finale of Norse mythology. A story of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves: what more relevant myth could any modern writer choose? Just as Wagner used this dramatic and catastrophic struggle for the climax of his Ring Cycle, so A.S. Byatt now reinvents it in all its intensity and glory. As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods — a book of ancient Norse myths — and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.
War, natural disaster, reckless gods and the recognition of impermanence in the world are just some of the threads that A.S. Byatt weaves into this most timely of books. Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, this is a landmark.
"It is apt that Booker Prize-winning English writer Byatt chooses to locate her reimagining of the Norse myth Asgard and the Gods, which describes the destruction of the world, during that most apocalyptic of times in British history, the blitz. The little girl at the center of the story, whom we know only as 'the thin child,' has been evacuated, with her mother, from London to the idyllic countryside. Her father is a fighter pilot who's 'in the air, in the war, in Africa, in Greece, in Rome, in a world that only exist in books.' The thin child goes to church and reads Pilgrim's Progress, but finds the concept of 'gentle Jesus' naive and untenable in the face of war. Asgard and the Gods, on the other hand, provides, if not a more believable narrative, one that at least reflects the world she lives in: 'It was a good story, a story with meaning, fear and danger were in it, and things out of control.' The only question that nags at her is how 'the good and wise Germans' who wrote it can be the same people bringing terror to the skies over her head at night. Told in lush prose, describing vividly drawn gods and their worlds, this is a book that brings the reader double pleasure; we return to the feeling of reading or being read childhood myths, but Byatt (Possession) also invites us to grapple with very grown-up intellectual questions as well. A highly unusual and deeply absorbing book." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Majestic....Dazzling....Wonderful....What you see here...is the strength and fire of Byatt's imagination."The San Francisco Chronicle
"Bristling with life and invention....A seductive work by an extraordinarily gifted writer." The Washington Post
"Spellbinding....Alive....Potent....Byatt is a master storyteller." O, The Oprah Magazine
"Proves that a serious, intricate book can also be a page turner....Manifest intelligence, subtle humor and extraordinary texturing of the past within the present make Possession original and unforgettable." Time Magazine
About the Author
A.S. Byatt is the author of fifteen works of fiction including the Booker Prize-winning Possession
, The Biographers Tale
and, most recently, the Man Booker-shortlisted The Children's Book
. A distinguished critic as well as a writer of fiction, A.S. Byatt was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.
Visit asbyatt.com for more information.