Whether you know him from New York Times bestsellers like Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods and Good Omens, his groundbreaking graphic novel series The Sandman, or modern-day children's classics like Coraline and The Graveyard Book, graphic novel and fantasy author Neil Gaiman is no doubt on your radar as one of modern fantasy's most prominent voices.
The author of multiple New York Times bestsellers and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy and Eisner awards, Neil Gaiman is a tireless creator. Besides his prolific work as a fantasy author, he’s also written collections of poetry, song lyrics, drama, journalism and film. He is also coauthor, with Terry Pratchett, of the novel Good Omens, and he has frequently collaborated with such musicians as Tori Amos (who has mentioned him and his creations multiple times in her lyrics) and his wife, Amanda Palmer, the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls. His books Coraline and Stardust were also the basis of acclaimed film adaptations, while a BBC miniseries of Neverwhere accompanied the release of the novel. Gaiman is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top 10 living post-modern writers. Originally from England, Neil Gaiman now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Odd wondered if he was going to die now, if the honey had just been an appetizer, but the bear got down on all fours once more and continued, single-mindedly, to empty the tree of honey. It was getting dark. Odd knew it was time for him to head for home. He started down the hill, and was almost at the bottom when he realized that he had absolutely no idea where his hut was. He had followed the fox to get here, but the fox was not going to lead him back. He tried to hurry, and he stumbled on a patch of ice, and his crutch went flying. He landed face-first in the hard snow. He crawled towards his crutch, and as he did so, he felt hot breath on the back of his neck. "Hello, bear," said Odd, cheerfully. "You had better eat me. I'll be more use as bear food than I will be frozen to death on the ice." The bear did not seem to want to eat Odd. It sat down on the ice in front of him, and gestured with its paw. "You mean it?" said Odd. "You aren't going to eat me?" The bear made a rumbling sort of noise in the back of its throat. But it was a gloomy noise, and not a hungry noise, and Odd decided to chance his luck. The day could not get stranger, after all. He clambered onto the bear's back, holding his crutch with his left hand and clutching the bear's fur with his right. The bear stood up slowly, making sure the boy was on, then set off at a fast lope through the twilight. As the bear sped up, the cold went through Odd's clothes and chilled him to the bone. The fox dashed ahead of them, the eagle flew above them and Odd thought crazily, happily, I'm just like one of the brave lords in my mother's ballads. Only without the horse, the dog and the falcon. And he thought, I can never tell anyone about this, because they won't believe it. Because even I wouldn't believe it. Snow fell from branches as they brushed past and stung his face, but he laughed as they went. The moon rose, pale and huge, and cold, cold, but Odd laughed some more, because his hut was waiting for him, and he was an impossible lord riding a bear, and because he was Odd. The bear stopped in front of Odd's hut, and Odd half climbed, half fell from the beast's back. He pulled himself up with his crutch, and then he said, "Thank you." He thought the bear nodded its head in the moonlight, but perhaps he imagined it. There was a crash of wings, and the eagle landed on the snow a few feet from Odd. It tipped its head on one side to stare at Odd with an eye the color of honey. There was nothing but darkness where its other eye should have been. He walked up to his door. The fox was already waiting there, sitting like a dog. The bear padded up to the hut behind him. Odd looked from one animal to the other. "What?" he said testily, although it was obvious what they wanted. And then, "I suppose you had better come in," he said. He opened the door. And they came in.
From Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Brett Helquist
Copyright 2009 by Neil Gaiman. Used by the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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