Brisk, workmanlike retellings of some of the major stories in Norse mythology, beginning with the creation and ending with the destruction of the world at Ragnarok, and including familiar tales about Thor, Loki, and Odin. A slow, somewhat confusing start gives way to well-told stories but it's the accompanying material that makes this volume exceptional. Each chapter begins with a quote from the Poetic Edda which, along with the Prose Edda, makes up much of the foundation of what is known about Norse mythology. The concluding chapter gives further information about myths and sources, pronunciation guides, information on symbolism and runes, and a brief entry on all of the characters and places. The striking illustrations will be carefully scrutinized; each full-page and double-page oil painting would be stunning in itself, but each one overlays runic drawings of the same subject; these hover, ghost-like, within each picture. Osborne's careful research and Howell's outstanding approach to illustration make this a worthy entry in the World's Great Stories series.