Book Review: Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII

Squaresoft’s golden era in the mid to late 90’s produced some of the most memorable, and beloved Japanese Role Playing Games in existence.  More than two decades later, debates rage on about which game was the company’s best work, however, there is little to debate about Final Fantasy VII being its most influential work.

The game inspired a legion of aspiring writers to write Fan Fictions based on its universe and characters. It is possible, that I wouldn’t be writing about gaming today if Final Fantasy VII hadn’t ignited my imagination 23 years ago.

M.J. Gallagher’s Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII is, perhaps, the most elaborate and impressive literary  work – that is related to FFVII – that I have read.

Gallagher, is well known within the Final Fantasy, and Final Fantasy VII community for his work on Final Fantasy related fan factions, and his novelization of Final Fantasy VII. However, Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII, is his first self published book, and it is an excellent showcase of both, his skill as a writer, and his uncanny knowledge of the compilation of Final Fantasy VII, and Norse Mythology.

An Educational  Course into Norse Religious Beliefs

Over the last decade, ‘Viking’ lore has taken the world by storm. Gaming, TV, and Films have prominently featured Norse related lore, worlds, and characters. Marvel’s Thor , Skyrim, and more recently God of War have all introduced us to the more fantastical side of the old Nordic Myths.

The more historically ‘accurate’ TV shows Vikings, and the Last Kingdom like have introduced us to the Viking warrior culture, and some of the struggles that the sea faring Nords encountered throughout Europe. In other words, popular culture has ingrained Viking culture into our collective minds for years now.

It is unlikely that Lagertha looked like this, but TV shows like ‘Vikings’ have helped to popularize Norse Lore in recent times.Obviously, many legendary works such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (as Gallagher correctly points out in his book) have been inspired by Norse Mythology. We have been reading, watching, and playing countless of media works that can all be traced back to Nordic Mythology for decades.

Lagertha
It is unlikely that Lagertha looked like this, but TV shows like ‘Vikings’ have helped to popularize Norse Lore in recent times.

I began to take an interest in Nordic Mythology back in 2011 with the advent of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I was completely captivated by that world’s wintry mountains, and cold underground dungeons. The Nord warrior culture, and its myths were much more interesting to me than The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion‘s Roman-era inspired setting.

Thus, after enjoying countless of other Nordic based – or inspired – media, my curiosity was picked when I first heard of Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII.

M.J. Gallagher does a fantastic job in fleshing out Norse Mythology throughout his book. He did not only make appreciate the depth of Final Fantasy VII’s lore more than I already had, but I also gained new powerful insights into other games’ universes. Sony PlayStation 4’s  God of War (2018), and the aforementioned Skyrim come to mind.

While the book is clearly aimed at the Final Fantasy crowd, it would be a disservice to Gallagher’s work, if I were to say that only Final Fantasy fans will find much to enjoy in its pages, as anyone with any passing interest on the Old Norse, and Viking Mythology will find much to like here. The book is truly a valuable educational tool on the subject.

Final Fantasy VII’s lore explained

Shinra Mansion
Final Fantasy VII’s Nibelheim, has much more in common with Norse lore than anyone could have imagined.

While the brunt of Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII’s pages largely focuses on the Norse myths behind Final Fantasy VII‘s own lore and universe, Gallagher makes sure to note from time to time when non-norse myths and lore were the sources of inspiration instead.

The book presents a well written summary of FFVII’s events, along with many important story moments within the compilation. Truly, the Nordic influence in these titles goes beyond what I could have ever imagined, and as a long time fan of Final Fantasy VII, I am pleased that this is the case.

Those familiar with my work (alongside Co-editor Mont Cessna) on the Never Ending Realm, can attest that I am not a big fan of the compilation. I felt that FFVII was perfect as it was.

So, in terms of the ‘Compilation’ of Final Fantasy VII side of the book, perhaps, the greatest compliment that I can give to Gallagher’s brilliance – apart from his stellar work in deciphering the Norse inspired material – is the personal admittance (on my part) that he made Genesis Rhapsodos (Crisis Core’s villain) a senseful addition to FFVII’s lore, which is something that Square Enix failed to convey during the PSP game, at least with me.

I always had issues with Crisis Core’s  inconsistencies with the original game, but Gallagher made me appreciate Nomura, and Nojima’s effort on the title’s plotline a bit more. In the end, Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII has that overall – enhancement of appreciation – effect on FFVII, and all of its related media material.

A Must Buy For Final Fantasy, and Viking Related Media Fans

Norse Myths That Inspired Final Fantasy VII is a nice companion book for Final Fantasy fans (especially Final Fantasy VII). M.J. Gallagher made a name for himself as a storyteller, and it shows. The book, while immensely educational, remained a fun and gripping read throughout.

Apart from providing an incredible educational experience on Norse Mythology, M.J. Gallagher (author), also delved deep into Final Fantasy VII’s storyline, the lore behind its symbolism, names, locations, and characters.  Giving old fans and newcomers to the games a fresh, if unexpected perspective into its universe.

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By Samuel Rivera

An avid video game player and book reader, Samuel has been playing video games for the last 31 years. He has played nearly every PS1 JRPG known to man, and loves Ocarina of Time more than any other game.