This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Odin's Island by Janne Teller

Odin's Island (1999)

by Janne Teller

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
641278,564 (2.97)1



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 1 mention

"Odin's Island" is difficult to place - a modern fairytale, a parable, a satire? Probably a little bit of everything, but definitely a riveting read.

When Odin lands his sleigh on a small island, he realizes two things - his horse Rigmarole broke one of her legs when they crossed a meteorite storm, and he only dimly remembers why he travelled through the sky in the first place. He is welcomed warmly by the islanders but they can't help him - for a Veterinary, he must travel to the Continent.

Odin crosses the frozen sea in one of the winter's worst snow storms and is finally saved by Sigbrit Holland who delivers him into an hospital. Odin repeats his story to the doctors and asks for a veterinary, which unsurprisingly lands him in an asylum. But when his story gets into the media, all kind of religious fanatics proclaim him to be their messia who came to lead them to the Promised Land. Their fanatism spirals, new prophesies spawn, politicians are getting involved and the whole country is slowly destabilized.

Meanwhile, Sigbrit Holland has taken care of Odin and tries together with a friend, the fisherman Ambrosius, to find a way to bring Odin back to his island against the plots of politicians and the varying religious sects.

This summary doesn't show what makes this book one of my absolute favourites: "Odin's Island" very cleverly mixes elements of magical realism with a two-fisted satire on a political cabal; it satirizes religious fanatism and the gullibility of people but also offers thoughts on the human need for religion and about ethics without religion; it's an adventure story and a romance. It's placed in a thinly disguised modern Scandinavia imminently before the year 2000, while Odin's Island lives in the timeless realms of the fairytale.

All this is blended harmonically into a story that kept me hooked for all the 500 pages of my edition. While Ambrosius remains a bit mysterious, Sigbrit is a modern young woman I could easily relate to, and that made me follow Sigbrit's, Ambrosius' and Odin's quest for the island breathlessly. Odin provides another element of humour - he speaks in an old-fashioned way and utters proverbs that the cult leaders convert into new prophesies, while Odin himself thinks benevolently about the whole world whithout having a clue what happens around him.

On the other hand, the religious fanatics and politicians are depicted in satirical - and clever - stereotypes enabling the reader to follow the country's downward spiral detachedly. In fact it's rather amusing to read about the genesis of cults, or the mass-manipulation performed by politicians.

And through the whole story glimmers a background of Nordic mythology - Odin is of course recognisable by his name, and the chapters a prefaced by excerpts of Nordic fables that are reflected in the story. Unfortunately, my ignorance of this mythology is so profound that I can catch only tantalizing glimpses of a further level of meaning. But that's enough to make me want to improve my knowledge.

I cannot recommend this book too much, it's one of my all-time favourites. Perhaps I should add that I read "Odin's Island" in the superb German translation, I can only hope that the English translation brings out the linguistic finesse in the same way. ( )
  1502Isabella | Feb 5, 2012 |
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Sigbrit Holland is driving along a treacherous winter road. Out of nowhere something looms into view and Sigbrit has to slam on her brakes. Investigating, she is unnerved to find an unusually short man - barely one metre tall - frozen to the spot. Unable to leave him there, she takes him to the hospital and tries to forget about him.… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (2.97)
0.5 1
1.5 1
2 5
2.5 2
3 1
3.5 1
4 3
5 3

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,375,280 books! | Top bar: Always visible