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American Gods sees ancient gods fight for their place in the modern world

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods and newcomers alike will find the audacious new TV adaptation worth watching, argues Iven Boldon

Issue No. 2553

Pablo Schreiber and Ricky Whittle in a scene from American Gods

Pablo Schreiber and Ricky Whittle in a scene from American Gods (Pic: IMDb)

From the opening scene of American Gods the tone is set for the online adaptation of writer Neil Gaiman’s much-loved magnum opus.

It’s a dark world populated with a diverse set of ancient gods, brought to the Amercias by migrants, settlers and slaves from across the world and then abandoned as belief in them has subsided.

The show opens with a hardened Viking crew landing on the shores of North America centuries before it was colonised.

We see their struggle on the inhospitable shores against biting insects and unseen indigenous people, before they eventually flee back across the sea.

They leave behind them their warrior god.


In the present day Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is halfway through a six year jail sentence, but is about to get released early.

Unfortunately Moon, who wanted to get back home, learns that his wife has died in a car crash.

Instead of a reunion, he only has her funeral to look forward to, where he’ll later learn the circumstances of her death.

But Moon is soon flung into the world of gods and magic upon his unexpected encounter with Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane).

Mr Wednesday is the Norse god Odin.

He recruits Moon to drive his car, hurt his enemies and hold his vigil if he dies.

This is his first step into a dark and mysterious world that the audience will be following every step of the way along with him.


For those unfamiliar with the novel, the first episode leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

But as we learn about this world, and follow the story alongside Moon, all becomes clear.

There have been some subtle—and some more audacious—adaptations from the novel in the first episode.

But on the whole audiences should be pleased with the finished product.

The few changes have brought a modernised version of the novel to screen, while remaining true to the original work.

In no other piece of fiction could those changes feel more apt and appropriate than in American Gods.

American Gods. Now available to watch online on Amazon Prime

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Tue 9 May 2017, 14:23 BST
Issue No. 2553
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