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Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Gods ---- by Neil Gaiman


“ I am not scared of what tomorrow might bring, because yesterday has brought it.”


American Gods is a fiction fantasy story. It’s more like a birth or a beginning of a future super hero. I can smell a sequel in the future.

The story revolves around a man named Shadow (see…the name itself sounds like that of superheroes). He was in prison for three years for aggravated assault and is about to be released. Two days before his release, he received news that his wife had an accident and is now dead. To make matters worst, he also found out that his best friend died with his wife and that they are having an affair. The same best friend who will give him a job after prison. He was left with nothing, all his plans thwarted, nowhere to go. Until he met a man named Wednesday (hehe…good idea, I’d name my future dog after a day of the week in French!). He was hired by this man to be his driver, bodyguard and gofer. Thus began his saga to the world of magic, of Gods, of legends, of myths, of monsters and undead. As the story progresses, Shadow found that Wednesday is a God. He is an embodiment of the God Odin, god of wisdom, war, battle and death. He is also attested as being a god of magic, poetry, prophecy, victory and the hunt. It was hard for him to believe at first but circumstances have proven otherwise. He also learned from Wednesday that there were other Gods around. Old ones and new ones. Gods brought to being by the peoples belief and faith. Seemingly ordinary people with power and secrets behind them feeding on peoples adherance to their devotions and sacrifices. There were old Gods and new Gods. People who came from distant places have brought their Gods with them when they reached America and as time passes they move on to newer Gods leaving behind the old Gods unloved and forgotten. Old Gods that were mentioned in the book was Loki (God of fraud), Thor (God of Thunder), Anansi (Folklore God of Culture), Leprechauns (Irish folklore, men of mischief and wealth) and Kobolds (German folklore, spirits who does domestic chores) and Banshees (Omen of death), Kubera (Hindu God of wealth) and Fraue Holle (Lake Godess) and Ashtaroth (prince of accusers and inquisitors). Unfortunately, these Gods are facing obsolescence for less and less people belived in them. No sacrifices were done on their name and they are getting weaker and older. People are now believing in new Gods. The God of credit cards, of freeway, of internent and telephone, of radio and hospital and television. The new Gods has their own leader called Mr. World. Wednesday has this belief that the new Gods will completely throw them in oblivion and that he must stop them before it is too late. So he is recruiting old Gods to join him in confronting the new Gods. In the end, shadow realized that Wednesdays plan is a trick to get all the Gods go in battle and in the process all death arising from that battle will serve as a sacrifice to him and his conniving partner Mr. World (turned out to be Loki, the God of fraud) and they will be both once again powerful for the blood of sacrificed Gods are far more superior than ordinary people.He also learned that Odin is his father. He tried to stop the battle and prevent Wednesdays plan to be completed. He was able to learn that he has qualities and capabilities to play on peoples memory and to be completely hide to the real world…thus giving meaning to his name. At the end…all Gods have accepted their faith and learned to live together the best they can. As for shadow, he preffered to live behind the curtain, trying get things right when they are going wrong.

Okay, that was the story, as short as I can re-tell it. Typical of any fantasy stories mostly found in comic books, it creates this other world existing only in my mind. Although at times I would occationaly look over my shoulder for possible truth. You know, hey, maybe we do have some Odin in our midst, or a Banshee or a shadow. I’m a sucker for a superheroes I must admit. I have a crush on Superman, an infatuation with Batman….lol. There were momments in the story that completely creeps me out..like how they do the sacrificial rites or the description of the zombie Laura. All in all, it is a good story. I should mention it did gave me a nightmare one night after reading it before bed. After that, no more bed time stories like that for me.

Lessons! Problem in the story is survival of the Old Gods. And Shadows part in it. Was it solved? The solution is acceptance and not war. Acceptance that in this world, change is inevitable. We may try not to change but eventually change will overtake us. New things will come and becomes old and they go. Good things may last more than the bad things but they will succumb to time as we all do. Greed is never good, as well as thrickery and they never suceed.

Shall I recommend this book to my friends? Why not?? With a warning not to read it before bed…

2 comments:

juleste said...

The line reminds me of a Filipino line that says: "Hindi na 'ko masisindak, dahil matagal na akong nasindak".

EM said...

LOL Juleste! Tamang tama!

Nakakasindak naman talaga yung mga nasa book. Kaya ako din di namasisindak sa mga susunod na book ni Neil Gaiman.

have a good day!