I recently took a quiz that tested just how big of a nerd I was. After testing my knowledge of all things Star Trek, Harry Potter, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett, Doctor Who and more, two shortcomings were found that blocked my ascendance into the upper echelon of geekdom: Dungeons and Dragons, and Neil Gaiman.
On the Dungeons and Dragons side…I don’t even know anyone who plays it, let alone know how to find the time to do so. And frankly – it’s just not me. I prefer to keep my ridiculous imagination to myself and not compete with others with it.
The there is a Neil Gaiman. A British author whose every co-written script for Doctor Who brought a toothy grin to my face. Books, fantasy, and British humour? This is something I can get on board with.
So i go to the bookstore and pick up the first Neil Gaiman book I see. Being a bookstore and a fan of alphabetization, this ends up being Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and by page 17 I had fallen in love.
SPOILER ALERT. (just a little bit though)
In the story the protagonist Shadow is about to be released from prison when he is informed that both his wife and his best friend / would be employer have died in a car crash. He is released to twist in the wind when he meets a bizarre man named Wednesday. After three pints of mead, the pact is sealed. Shadow will work for Wednesday though it will take him through life and death as the gods of all time, whoever once worshipped battle for the admiration of humanity.
But it’s not just deities of yore – anything ever worshipped plays the game. From the internet, to the media, everything we’ve ever idolized. The book was published in 2001 and I can’t help but wonder what else would have made it into those pages if written today…I’m praying Gaiman would have the good taste to keep the Kardashians out of ink.
Then there is Shadow. Oh you swoon-worthy thing you makes my geekish heart skip a beat. Tall, dark, strong, handsome, loving, kind and loyal Shadow…
It’s a must read. In the top ten fantasy books I’ve ever read.