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Backlist Love: Giants, gods and grave danger

ThorMasterMagic copy 2

Got a young Avengers fan in the house looking for their next superhero fix? My current favourite Barrington Stoke backlist title is Thor and the Master of Magic by Kevin Crossley-Holland. It’s an action-packed retelling of an old Norse myth and a great introduction to ancient Viking stories and legends that can really capture a child’s imagination.

£5.99. Reading Age: 8

£5.99, Reading Age: 8

The Bookbag loved it: “This book is sure to interest any young comic book fans, and the illustrations will certainly help with this, but it is still faithful to the original myth, and in my mind would count as literature, rather than just a fun read ”“ but I wouldn’t tell the children that.”

Kevin Crossley-Holland is a prize-winning writer for children, and often draws on Norse myths and British folk tales. Here he spins a tale of ancient times and old gods, where magic is still very real and monsters lurk in the mountains. Thor and Loki must take on the Giant King in his fortress ”“ but all is not what it seems.

“[It’s] made with magic,” grunted Loki. ”˜The dwarfs once made a chain like that. Down in their dark caves, their eyes shone like glow-worms. They made a strong chain out of things that are not. They made it with the sound a cat makes when it moves, and a woman’s beard, and the roots of a mountain, and”¦”

“Shut up about the dwarfs!” growled Thor.

The Thor of Norse myths is a little different from the Thor of the Avengers, though equally as entertaining. Below are three Thor facts (try saying that fast) from the old legends to share with your kids:

  1. He once dressed up as a bride (veil and all) to retrieve his stolen hammer
    In one poem about Thor and Loki, Thor’s enchanted hammer goes missing. A giant has it, and he will only give it back if he can marry a beautiful goddess called Freyja. Freyja storms off in a huff, and Thor decides to stand in for her, disguised with jewels, a dress and headdress. When Thor spots his hammer during the wedding ceremony, he teaches the giants a lesson ”“ all while dressed as a beautiful, blushing bride.
  1. Thor’s chariot is pulled by goats
    Two goats pull Thor’s chariot and when he’s peckish, he kills, cooks and eats them. But Thor has the ability to bring the animals back to life afterwards, so long as none of their bones have been broken.
  1. Thor would rather die in battle than in bed
    Viking warriors were afraid of dying in bed, as they thought that would mean they would go to the underworld. Instead, they preferred to die in battle. Then they would go to the halls of Valhalla, where they would spend eternity feasting on boar (and only boar).

Old legends like these have inspired stories from The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, giving them an appeal for fantasy fans. For more Nordic chills, I also recommend The Ghost of Shadow Vale by Jonathan Stroud.

Rebecca is our Digital Manager. She always has an eye on what’s happening online and rounds up news and views on the blog.

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