Neil Gaiman has created works of intense vitality and inventiveness across genres. Taking in his work is a bit like watching a toothless corps dance and vomit flowers, all the while spouting philosophy and read from a book of history — at the same time. He’s written deeply disturbing children’s books such as The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, or The Wolves in the Walls. Some may be familiar with him through the uniquely dark and vibrant films created from his popular novels. From the animated Coraline — reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland if Alice’s mom tried to sew buttons into her eyes — to the whimsical Stardust and it’s flying, sometimes cross-dressing pirates — he makes an impact. Others may be more familiar with his work in graphic novels — the Sandman series, Violent Cases, etc. — and others may know him for novels including Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, or Anansi Boys and American Gods.
It is for the latter – American Gods — that Gaiman’s appeared most in the news lately, and where the Game of Thrones connection comes in. The novel follows Shadow, a recently released convict whose wife is murdered the day before he’s to be released. From there, the story spirals out into a tale of ancient gods in a modern world, and their battle to survive as modern technological and celebrity birth their own new and powerful deities.
The book is the story of Shadows employment for a con man and Norse god. He learns coin tricks with the sun and moon, copes with the haunting presence of his undead wife, and witnesses the war of old and new. The books is simultaneously following Shadow and telling the immigration story of divinities turned sometimes very human. Anubis, Thoth, and Bast, for example, can be found in the small American town of Lakeside, working in a mortuary, eating pieces of corpses.