Monday, May 08, 2006

A bad land for Gods

What do you say about a book that has won awards as the best in SF, fantasy and horror? Neil Gaiman's American Gods is like nothing I've read before. I don't think a review would do the book any justice, but let me try anyway...

Just a few days before his imminent release from prison, Shadow's wife dies in a car crash. On his way to the funeral, Shadow meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who claims to be the King of America and a God to boot. Wednesday hires Shadow as his chauffeur as he goes about rousing the old gods to fight against the new gods that have taken over America. So begins a wild ride for Shadow, meeting gods from various pantheons who arrived in America with the immigrants and being rescued by various women, including a couple of goddesses and his undead wife, culminating in his hanging from the sacred tree keeping vigil for Wednesday, who is really Odin, the Norse god of war. But is Shadow just a pawn in the game for supremacy between the old gods and the new, or are the gods themselves being set up for a fall? And what exactly is Loki, the god of chaos, up to?

I haven't read any of Gaiman's graphic novels, but he is simply brilliant here. I suppose the reason that the book won awards under so many genres is because it defies any sort of classification. It is one man's journey to self discovery, its science fiction, fantasy, horror, its an insight into the religious heritage of American society & of the lust for power, a subtle critique of soul-less America, and much more. A must read.

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