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Editorial Reviews

Daniel Thomas May performs these Popular Tales from the Norse with his warm, slightly gravelly voice, creating amusing personalities for the varying animals, creatures, and characters that populate the tales. His engaging style will charm listeners young and old.

The stories were translated into English by Sir George Webbe Dasent, whose interest in Scandinavian mythology and literature was sparked by a meeting with Jakob Grimm who, along with his brother Wilhelm, collected German folktales into some of the most popular collections of children’s stories ever. These stories similarly reflect a culture’s unique flavor while containing lessons, jokes, dreams, and fears that are universally relatable and enjoyable.

Publisher's Summary

This is George Dasent's classic collection of Scandinavian folklore. This is not about Norse mythology per se; so if you are looking for tales of Odin, Loki, and Freya, etc., you will have to look elsewhere. Rather, this is an anthology of folk tales, similar to the Grimm Brothers', or Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands. All of the usual suspects are in place, including giants, trolls, witches, evil step-siblings, magical boons and tasks, and anthropomorphic animals.

The introduction is exceptionally well written, and places various magical and other themes from the tales into the context of ancient Norse Pagan beliefs. It is a Victorian scholarly treatise, however (with the requisite rhetorical flourishes), and will mostly be appreciated by academic listeners. Once you get past the introduction however, the prose descends to the young adult level, and the delightful stories can be appreciated by listeners of all ages.

Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Great tales

What made the experience of listening to Popular Tales from the Norse the most enjoyable?

There are some great tales and they are well told. There are several that have several variations of the same story and I don't think they all needed to be in the book. It made the book long and it started getting boring.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Stories, Some Short, Others Very Long

What other book might you compare Popular Tales from the Norse to and why?

This book reads like a compilation of Aesops Fables...some short, some long, usually with a lesson at the end.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The reader did an adequate job of changing voices for characters...not the best I've heard, but good.

Any additional comments?

The book is simply a compilation of tales or fables, many of them universal, not specific to Norse peoples. But it is a great introduction to Norse culture, if you've never heard it before. My son and I listened to this together. He is twelve and most of the stories were a little too young for him.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Fun for a while

Of Norwegian ancestry so very interested in the old stories and culture. Stories were fun to hear, but many similar in theme of not story, and some reports in the story itself. I guess if you spent enough time sitting around a fire with family during long winters you would appreciate a long take to pass the time. Overall I liked heading traditional talked, but it was hard to keep interested after the first half of the book when the repetition seemed to overwhelm my interest. I'm supposed I finished it, even after only putting it on for a take or two once every couple of weeks.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nice and long smogasbord of weird stories

When traveling alone, these make great bedtime stories to fall asleep to. Yes, imagine that, fairy tales make good bedtime stories! These stories are really bizarre; sometimes a little disturbing, sometimes pretty silly, but always weird.

Someone here was complaining that these are "Christianized." Well, so was "Beowulf." Most of Norse mythology (the Sagas and Eddas) and Germanic mythology were written by Christians and are highly contaminated in many peoples' estimate. Unless you can go back in time about 1200 years or more and collect the stories yourself, you are stuck with this, so complaining here about Christian contamination is unproductive. Unfortunately, Germanic pagans wrote almost nothing of their religious and folk beliefs. The Christian references in this collection are very sparse, and with very few exceptions are completely incidental and inconsequential.

Someone claims these are "English" and therefore not authentically Norse. I do not believe this to be the case. Just because England is mentioned in a very few stories does not mean these are English. Also, no one has the authority to dismiss anything from England's Danish settlement period (such as Beowulf) as not qualifying as Norse. That is not the case, and so one questions the motive for suggesting this? Perhaps such a person needs to learn Norwegian and see if they can find a Norwegian folktale book, if England and English bothers them. At best, they would probably only find an uncredited modern translation of this vintage book.

When I am journeying in wild forested and rocky places, this book is excellent to turn to at night, as a sleep aid. It is long, and has numerous short stories. I can put this book down for months, and come back to it when I return to my wilderness vacations. It has stories of trolls, witches, magic, and other uniquely strange subjects presented in an odd fashion, by modern standards. I have been listening to this on and off for several years. This audio book never fails to hold my interest enough to eliminate stray thoughts, but is light enough that I will fall asleep before the timer stops the audio. I derive satisfaction from knowing that it has an almost pure ancestral aesthetic, and that it lacks the crudeness, political correctness, and smothering satire that permeates our modern anti-culture.

Tip: If you are alone, try a compact, $20 plug-in speaker for your phone, for bedtime listening. I find this works better than falling asleep with inserted earbuds, Bluetooth headband speakers, or a pillow speaker. I quietly use mine even when I am not alone. These also work great for two people sharing a bedtime audio book story, streaming radio drama, etc.

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There is too much Christian influence.

I have heard several of these stories growing up, none of which had the much Christian influence as what they do in this book. This is a poor bastardized version of the old stories.

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It's English, not norse

Would you try another book from George Webbe Dasent and/or Daniel Thomas May?

Since they can't title a book accurately, no!

What was most disappointing about George Webbe Dasent’s story?

All the stories I listened to were English fables, not Norse. I bought the book specifically for Norse fables.

What about Daniel Thomas May’s performance did you like?

It was fine.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Popular Tales from the Norse?

I'd either change the name or put actual Norse fables into it.

Any additional comments?

In the end, it's false advertising to call this book anything Norse. These are Britannic tales. Maybe they came from the time of Dane Law, but they weren't from that side of the line. Totally disappointed, wish I hadn't bought the book no matter how cheap it was!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful