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The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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Dealing first with the myths, McCoy precedes each myth with an introduction to the myth, possible sources, possible Christian and or Middle Ages influence, and an educated guess at how much of the myth might actually be from original sources. This is a nice touch for those who might want to dig further for themselves for a more thorough interpretation.
Norse religion, is addressed in the first portion of the book. McCoy is right up front about Norse religion in that it was never "systematized or codified during the Viking Age", nor was it recorded in a written language. The same can be said for the Viking myths, as the myths were not standardized, and the myths changed over time, and by different influences even within the Viking "nations".
Using an analogy, think of a paleontologist, who finds a smattering of bone fragments, some larger and more complete, some hardly there, others missing entirely, mixed with other fragments of a different creature. He/she then attempts to piece together the original find, based upon incomplete skeletal remains, and then attempts to bootstrap together how that creature lived. That is my impression of the challenge facing the scholars who's goal is to compile Norse religion and mythology in their original forms. McCoy even rationalizes that the reader can invent their own means of interpretation and understanding of the Norse, as the beliefs of the Norse were constantly evolving.
In closing, this was my second venture into Norse mythology. My first voyage was The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, about three years ago. I prefer the Crossley-Holland's work, if for no other reason, that it was my first experience with Norse myths. Rather than preceding his myths with an introduction to each, his note section, following the myths, he deals with each myth. KC-V also provides much more information in his note section for the interpretation of Norse mythology. If one is interested in understanding the Viking world through their mythology and religion, I'd submit that McCoy's book is the place to begin, then read Crossley-Holland's work. After that, if still wanting more, each author provides sources for further research.
Overall, I'd say that if you can ignore the feeling of being "talked down to", then you'd probably get more out of this book than I am. I'd still recommend the book if you're really interested in the subject, though, because no matter how I feel about its tone, I cannot say enough how well written it is.