Odd and the Frost Giants, was Re: Farthing, was Re: What Book are you reading now?

On 2008-02-28 14:20:54 -0800, Kurt Busiek <kurt@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> said:

Currently up: BERTRAM OF BUTTER CROSS by Jeffrey E. Barlough, and probably CHINA LAKE by Meg Gardiner after that.

Unless I can't hold off on reading ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS, by Neil Gaimian, which just arrived yesterday...

Well, that went fast.

ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is Neil Gaiman's offering for World Book Day, which he describes thusly: "A bunch of authors write books for nothing, and publishers publish them for nothing, and they get sold for £1 each to kids who have been given £1 Book Tokens, and the whole thing exists purely in order to get kids reading."

It's a slim book, 97 largish-print pages including illustrations -- which are by Mark Buckingham, artist of DC/Vertigo's comics series FABLES, and are quite nice -- and is the story of a boy who saves the world from frost giants, when his Norse village is caught up in unending winter.

It's a good year for young Norse folks saving the world from the unending winters of frost giants -- Jessica Day George's SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW deals with a similar threat, though George and Gaiman handle it in very different ways.

ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is an adventure story, though as with much of Gaiman's writing, it's a gentle adventure story in which words, wisdom, warmth, understanding and a sense of the appearances of things are more important than power, violence or destruction. The language is straightforward but carefully-crafted, and still manages an underlying flavor of Dunsanyeque fantasy, where things happen because they should happen, and nobody involved in it seems to find it odd. It's a very pleasant read, with some nice character humor, some mythic moments, and a satisfying conclusion.

It hasn't been published in the US yet, though it will be next year -- I got my copy from AMazon.uk, which is still selling the World Book Day edition for a pound, plus shipping.

Good stuff.