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Shadow's Real Name - Confirmed
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Hmmm... and for another point for him being Baldur would of course be the much talked about reborn thing.

But if this wasn't implied, the last battle was infact Ragnarok, "destruction of the powers", not twilight of the gods as it has been stated before. Loki was the leader of the Newer Gods, as he was the leader of the Utgard Giants when Ragnarok came. Odin became the leader of the old gods as he was the leader of the Aesir (Norse Gods).

And the death Baldur of course was one of the factors that induced the coming of Ragnarok. And Shadow died when they were getting ready to fight. And then Shadow was revived just as the battle came. I can't think of much more at this point...
 
Posts: 8 | Registered: October 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Although it does work extremely well for Shadow to be Baldur, it seems to me that we shouldn't take Mr. Gaiman's word for it, as oftentimes the writer himself may miss something about the hidden nature of some of the things that he writes about. As for the Jesus thing, am I getting my Norse guys confused, or isn't Baldur the one who is kind of a sacrificial-lamb type himself?
 
Posts: 574 | Location: Santa Barbara, Ca USA | Registered: March 24, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Actually the book mentions that Shadow's mother was ill from sickle cell disease, which is found mostly among african-americans. And the fact that his skin is described as "coffee and cream" seems to me to mean that he is mulatto--having a black mother and Odin as his father. A lenny kravitz type?? ;-)
 
Posts: 3 | Registered: April 29, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Howdy -

Wow. When I read the book a few days ago, it never occurred to me that Shadow's actual name might matter or be relevant at all. I just assumed that since it didn't seem to matter to Shadow himself one jot, it didn't matter to me as a reader either. And then I registered here tonight and this was the first topic I decided to read and WOW - ya'll just blew me over!

So Shadow's actually somebody. But does it really matter? I mean - he doesn't seem to care...

Can't he just be Shadow?


- Xeno

"I did not die, and did not remain alive; now think for thyself, if thou hast any grain of ingenuity what I became, deprived of both death and life." - Dante
 
Posts: 32 | Location: Texas | Registered: May 06, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Xenocide Isis, I applaud you. I'm sure everyone is sick of me repeating this, but one of my favorite things about Neil is that he is willing to put things in his works which stand, unapologetically, without having an explanation. I mean, Shadow, whatever else he is, is an archetype. He's the hero of the story. So who cares what his real name is?
One thing I did notice, however, on rereading the book, is that his wife is referred to as Laura Moon. so I guess that must be his last name too, unless she kept her maiden name.
 
Posts: 574 | Location: Santa Barbara, Ca USA | Registered: March 24, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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phool2056 -

Smile *blushes*

Turns out my Mom really did know what she was talking about when she would tell me to just say what I thought and be done with it.

I'm glad you understood exactly what I meant - it's grueling to have to re-explain when one is misunderstood.

And now I really must reference Ayn Rand and her favorite phrase of "something that exists purely for itself." That's what pops into my head with Shadow, like you said - totally without explanation or even a need of one.

And yes, I noticed that Laura's surname was Moon, but since he was never himself referred to as Mr. Moon or Shadow Moon, it was almost like his identity before the book took place. Like the past. Left behind, you know?

So now he's just Shadow. For me, anyway.

Wink


-Xeno

______________________________

"I did not die, and did not remain alive; now think for thyself, if thou hast any grain of ingenuity what I became, deprived of both death and life." - Dante

"We are the Dreamers of the Dream." - Arthur O'Shaughnessy

"What is art? Fuck art! I am Art." - Marilyn Manson
 
Posts: 32 | Location: Texas | Registered: May 06, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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hullo.

you were all talking about this ages ago, but i have only just finished American Gods recently.

There is a greek play called Alcestis which, in the version by Ted Hughes, is about a woman dying and being resurected - conquering death - and there is a bit with Prometheus on the crag.

All this crucifiction, death and resurection stuff seems very common in myths of different religions even down to the details of wounded sides - jesus, prometheus' liver.

basically i think it puts christianity nicely in context with older myths.

the annoying thing is that you all worked it out before i had even thought of it. Mad

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Posts: 482 | Location: UK | Registered: April 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Myths tend to follow common themes, so it's no surprise that christianity has many things in common with other mythologies/religions. (No bashing the liberal please, if you don't see it as mythology, that's fine for you. I'm just rambling here anyway)

I thought it was interesting to compare Shadow with some common themes, and with the specifics of Baldur as well. All of this is simply rambling loose associations which may or may not spark some ideas in the heads of those of you who have debated this so much more in depth than I could.

Shadow (Moon, Moonshadow) spent time in jail, and was reborn just as we came to know him, with little of his 'life' behind bars talked about, other than it not being much of a life at all.
Baldur was reborn when released from the prison of death, to take part in Ragnarok, so to speak.
This version of Baldur would not necessarily be bound to the original plot line of Baldur's life, as this isn't the same version as the Old world Baldur, which might explain the 'Old' Odin's reactions/comments in the epilogue. (or not)
The tree was Odin's swindle/betrayal of his own son/savior (as Shadow was planned to be, although didn't he also save Odin once prior to the betrayal/con?) (a few christian comparisons begging to be seen there, maybe?)
Shadow was reborn on the tree, which may or may not be the part of Baldur, but I think the bit about being brought back from death, reluctantly, because he had a purpose/part in Ragnarok smacks of Baldur (old style)
There were also some comments by someone about the gold coin, and how it related to the sun, and him giving it to Laura.
I think the whole bit about him giving it to Laura was too easy and not thought out on Shadow's part (by which I mean explained by Neil) leading me to think there's a bunch more to that than we've discussed, but maybe there's another topic on this?
I did want to comment though, that a couple times Laura finds Shadow, and comments that it was easy, since he "shines like a beacon". Why is that? It's not simply because she loves him, I think. Neil went to great lengths to prove that the love between them, especially after her death, was not one of those epic loves that will be told down through the ages, but was a more 'human' love.
Something to do with Shadow's role, and possibly other symboilic relations to other gods is involved. I do find it amusing though, that this man/god/demigod who shines like a beacon is named Shadow.

I hope I haven't bored anyone, and that maybe one or two of these comments might inspire some other thoughts.

btw, I also didn't worry about who he was while reading it. I seldom worry about undercurrents with Neil, his character development is plenty fun for me. The rest of it comes much later, after it's finished, and it's settled on my mind for a while. Even then, I tend to enjoy more than I analyse.

BB
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: May 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One more little fact, this one about Shadow's mama having sickle cell and whether that meant he couldn't be Native American:

Few African Americans are "pure" African in ancestry. In addition to the white ancestry that was (until recently) mainly a legacy of slavery, many have a number of Native American ancestors, from freedmen and women who married (or had as lovers) members of the various southeastern tribes.

It wouldn't be too odd if Shadow's African American mother were, by ancestry, a good part Native American, as well as white. So Shadow could be a very good representation of the Melting Pot, and thus a very suitable "American god."

- Cho
 
Posts: 2603 | Location: Takoma Park, MD, USA | Registered: June 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's also interesting to note that the only people who believe in Shadow, are gods themselves.

nice twist
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: October 28, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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At a recent signing in Milwaukee I had asked Neil if Shadow was Vidar, an obscure son of Odin who is the Norse god of strength and silence. I got this out of my old trusty Deities and Demigods book from TSR. It all seemed to fit, but then Neil told me Shadow is indeed Buldar.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: kenosha. WI USA | Registered: October 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've been reading through the five pages of posts on this topic, it's very interesting but my eyes are getting very tired! Smile

I agree with some of the posts and disagree (strongly) with others.

I can accept that Shadow's name is Balder. But (like some others here) I don't think that means that he is a reincarnation of the god Balder. It's just his name.

Besides, he gives his real name to Zorya Polunochnaya, so after that he is only Shadow. I saw that as a chance to start life over with a clean slate.

I don't think that Shadow's mother was a goddess. So only one of his parents was a god, which makes him VERY different from Thor or Balder who were full-blooded gods, correct? I see Shadow as a reluctant demi-god, not a full-blown god.

I do think that Shadow's mother was African-American, because of the sickle-cell references. But like other posters, I think she had mixed ancestry which could include American Indian blood. I pictured her with "cream and coffee" complexion up until her final battle with lymphoma, when Gaiman writes that "there was a lemonish-gray tinge to her skin" (paperback pg 473). Shadow, as a mixture of his mother and Wednesday, would probably be lighter of skin and have straight, dark hair (which matches the descriptions in the book).

In the end, I find it very unsatisfying to think of Shadow only as a reincarnation of Baldur. There might be similarities, but in the end, so what? I find it much more comforting to think of Shadow as SHADOW.

Also, as evidenced by his world travels, he apparently has something that none of the other gods have: freedom.
 
Posts: 11 | Registered: November 06, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Shadow's name according to the new short story in Legends II is confirmed as Baldur.

That does not preclude further examination of his identity however. It is made very clear here that Shadow is NOT a God. He's a "monster". Gaiman is very good about not putting a definition on that term however- is he a monster because of his half God ancestry? Is he a monster because he came back from the dead? Is he a monster because of his mental abilities (which precluded him dying, and are debatable part of his God heritage)?

So what does his name really mean? The Gods appear to him and claim him as kin, but how does that kinship work?

All I know is that I am very excited about any American Gods story that Neil Gaiman cares to write!

Logic- a way of being ignorant by numbers.
 
Posts: 1 | Location: NYC, NY | Registered: August 10, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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-I'm glad someone mentioned the 'gave up his name' part, I think that's quite important

-As for the mother...the one thing I caught when I just re-read the book, is that Neil refers to another character as 'cream and coffee'-colored, so I believe the assumption is that it's a definitive clue as to Shadow's heritage.

Of course, I'll let you figure out who else was referenced that way on your own Big Grin
 
Posts: 11 | Registered: June 07, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Urgh... Shadow being Balder.....

I was a little shocked when I read this ;(
if Shadow was Balder, what happened to Nanna, the summer goddess he married? Instead he gets Laura... a nice girl I'm sure, but manipulative, and to be associated with death rather than life the way Nanna would.
and what happened to Forseti, God of Truth, son of Balder and Nanna? ... i'm sad to see them go from the image of mythology as presented in AG, same thing goes for Vidar and Vali, the sons Odin had with Frigg (also Balder's mother is Frigg, and Shadow's mother isn't), Vidar to carry on after Ragnarok, and Vali to take revenge on Balder's "murderer" Hodr.

That Shadow is Balder means that the battle of the gods in AG is Ragnarok, which I thought about while reading the book, but rejected because this would mean Odin survives (or at least carries on after) Ragnarok. In Norse mythology, he does not. Vidar is there for that purpose.

.... Then again, I suppose changes have been made because this concerns the AMERICAN versions of the Gods... mere shadows of what they were in the old world, petty and only concerned with their own well-being (the real Odin was a con-artist, I'm sure, but he damn well wasn't as much of a bastard as Wednesday), and of course, Odin had to leave behind Frigg, who didn't travel to America in the minds of the Vikings in the ship, and had to start a new Balder in another woman, same as this American Balder (or Baldur, suit yourselves) didn't find Nanna and couldn't have Forseti, no god of Truth in America (interesting thought, that).

I suppose in this way it does make sense, but I'll stick with the European Gods... perhaps it's the lack of worship, or the way all the gods got crammed into the relatively few souls of their worshippers in America, but the European gods sure are nicer.
 
Posts: 8 | Registered: January 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by thenewtbaron:
hey, thanks for all the info on shadow, but i have one thing, did anyone thing that whiskey jack saying to shadow "have you found your tribe" refers to maybe his pantheon of gods,to me tribe means more like a group of people you belong with and family, he does find his tribe.


I think Shadow's tribe is the Navajo. Whether he is half, a third or a tenth Native American, I think that percentage belongs to The navajo because of the whole coming up from underground part. I'm sorry I can't find the page at the moment, but when I do I will edit this post. Anyway, according navajo belief, their ancestors originated beneath the earth and they believe that there is still a thriving civilization derived from those ancestors still living underground.


Give me the mead. I gotta be hung over for the children.
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Brooklyn, Ny | Registered: August 08, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you read Neil Gaiman's book Fragile things, there is a story called The Monarch of the Glen.
It is An American Gods Novella. It takes place two years after American Gods it blatently states that his name is Baldur Moon at several points. The lost gods on a ship even repeatedly call him Baldur everytime he goes there in his dreams.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: December 19, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What if the protagonist is the most ancient, forgotten, most powerful primordial being of all? Ymir? Hes hair taken for trees, his flesh for Earth, his skull/brain for clouds, his blood for oceans. Odin with companions did use his corpse to make the world and the powers he has refer to a myriad of multi levelled power akin to a God even more earlier than Odin but stripped to forgotten because he was known to have been killed by Odin? If Ymir's dead body can be used to create worlds, think what kind of power and belief he must resemble alive? His bones made mountains, and he was also known to have been used to create the cow/bull...think about it. If hes on the old gods side, and the protagonist, shouldnt he be more powerful than all the Gods combined? Possibly the reason for Ragnarok, the return of the Frost Giant, also responsible for snow and harbinger of apocalypse
 
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