American Gods

American Gods


Neil Gaiman

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Shadow Moon (Baldur)

The protagonist of the novel, Shadow is a large, tall man whose defining feature is his inability to be defined. As his name suggests, Shadow is hard to read, often hiding his true feelings and… read analysis of Shadow Moon (Baldur)

Mr. Wednesday (Odin)

The King of the Norse Gods, worshipped for his status as the Allfather, his wisdom, his prowess in battle, and his healing ability. In Norse mythology, Odin attained his power by hanging on a tree… read analysis of Mr. Wednesday (Odin)

Mr. World (Low Key Lyesmith / Loki)

Loki, the trickster and sometimes evil god of Norse Mythology, acts as one of the main antagonists in American Gods. As Low Key Lyesmith, Loki is nothing more than Shadow’s cell mate in jail… read analysis of Mr. World (Low Key Lyesmith / Loki)

Mr. Nancy (Anansi)

One of the most important figures in West African and Caribbean folklore, Anansi is a spider god who embodies the spirit of stories, boasts, and trickery. His worship comes mostly through the oral tradition, as… read analysis of Mr. Nancy (Anansi)

Laura Moon

Shadow’s late wife, who begins an affair with Shadow’s best friend Robbie while Shadow is in jail for a heist that Laura engineered and put into action. Laura seems to regret her actions in… read analysis of Laura Moon
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Richie Hinzelmann

An overly nice old man in Lakeside who acts as the unofficial town leader. Hinzelmann’s affable exterior hides a Germanic kobold (cursed spirit) who is forced to sacrifice one child each year to protect Lakeside… read analysis of Richie Hinzelmann

Sam Black Crow

A half-Native American young woman who hitchhikes across the Midwest and meets Shadow during one of his drives away from Whiskey Jack’s house to Cairo. Sam later encounters Shadow in Lakeside while visiting her… read analysis of Sam Black Crow

Audrey Burton

Laura’s best friend and Robbie’s wife. She is angry after Laura and Robbie’s affair is exposed, in contrast to Shadow’s numb acceptance of the betrayal. Audrey also comes to Lakeside to visit… read analysis of Audrey Burton


A shaman woman for the tribe that first came to American land around 14,000 BC. Atsula does not believe in the gods, but in the power of the human heart. She rebels against the wooly… read analysis of Atsula

Mama-ji (Kali)

An Indian Goddess who supports Mr. Wednesday’s complaints against the New Gods but does not want to start a violent war. Mama-ji specifically notes the differences between her form in America and her form… read analysis of Mama-ji (Kali)

Technical Boy

The New God of technology in America, portrayed as a whiny teenage boy. Technical Boy may claim to have all the answers, but he is ultimately insecure about his place in the minds of the… read analysis of Technical Boy

Chad Mulligan

The police officer in Lakeside, a kind man who appreciates the low crime rate of Lakeside and tries to help people whenever possible. Chad welcomes Shadow to Lakeside and becomes a true friend to him… read analysis of Chad Mulligan

Czernobog (Bielebog)

The Russian God of darkness, thought to be the cursed twin of Bielebog, the god of light. Little is known about Czernobog other than his black appearance and his hammer weapon. Gaiman interprets Czernobog and… read analysis of Czernobog (Bielebog)

Mad Sweeney

An Irish leprechaun who breaks stereotypes through his height (over six feet tall) and his preference for Southern Comfort whiskey over Guinness beer. Mad Sweeney helps Shadow get the gold coin meant for the King… read analysis of Mad Sweeney

Zorya Utrennyaya

Zorya Utrennyaya, or the Dawn Star (as her name means in Russian), is a Slavic goddess with control over the dawn and the responsibility of opening the gate for her father, the sun god, each… read analysis of Zorya Utrennyaya

Zorya Verchernyaya

Zorya Verchernyaya, or the Evening Star (as her name means in Russian), is a Slavic goddess who has control over twilight and is able to tell pretty lies and fortunes for people. Zorya Verchernyaya and… read analysis of Zorya Verchernyaya

Zorya Polunochnaya

Zorya Polunochnaya, or the Midnight Star (as her name means in Russian), is the Slavic goddess with control over the night and an affinity for the moon. Zorya Polunochnaya sleeps all day, then guards the… read analysis of Zorya Polunochnaya

John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed)

An American “culture hero” famous for planting apple trees throughout the American west and living peacefully with Native Americans. In the novel, John Chapman is friends with Whiskey Jack and also describes his grief after… read analysis of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed)


An Egyptian god associated with the sky and the figure of a hawk. In the novel Horus has gone crazy and stays permanently in his hawk form, because he is no longer remembered by the… read analysis of Horus

The Unknown God

A god that Mr. Wednesday meets in Las Vegas, who is associated with money, wealth, and chance, but somehow slips out of people’s minds. Shadow can never remember who he is and no mortal can… read analysis of The Unknown God

Mr. Jacquel (Anubis)

The Egyptian god of mummification and the afterlife, who judges mortals’ souls against a feather and decides who is allowed to go on to paradise and who gets eaten. Mr. Jacquel can take the form… read analysis of Mr. Jacquel (Anubis)

Essie Tregowan

Essie is a woman from Cornwall, England, who comes to America as an indentured servant and brings her belief in the “piskies” with her. The piskies bring Essie luck and prosperity, but Essie is unable… read analysis of Essie Tregowan

The Norns

Three sisters from Norse mythology who loosely control the past, present, and future (roughly corresponding to the “Fates” of other European mythology). Urdr, the oldest sister, rules the past, Verdandi, the middle sister, oversees the… read analysis of The Norns
Minor Characters
Easter (Eostre)
The Germanic goddess of the dawn, who now draws power from the American celebration of Easter—though few mortals actually know that they are honoring her in this spring festival. Easter has power over rebirth, helping to bring Shadow back from the underworld after he sacrifices himself for Odin.
Whiskey Jack (Wisakedjak)
An Algonquin trickster figure who is a “culture hero” rather than a full god. He lives near a Lakota reservation and is mistaken for the Lakota god Iktomi, another trickster. Whiskey Jack offers Shadow wisdom about the magical nature of the American land itself.
Mr. Ibis (Thoth)
The Egyptian god of wisdom, writing, and judgment of the dead. Mr. Ibis, associated with cranes, works as a funeral director in Cairo, Illinois along with Mr. Jacquel, and writes histories of how the many different gods came to America.
An Egyptian goddess who takes the form of a cat and acts as a lioness protector during times of war. Bast likes Shadow, sleeping with him, healing his wounds, and leading him through the underworld.
The deity form of the Queen of Sheba, who uses sex as a form of worship. She tries to adapt to the new technology and modern gods of America, but is killed by Technical Boy.
The Buffalo Man
Half buffalo, half man, he is the incarnation of the land of America. Shadow often dreams of him, and he acts as a spiritual advisor for Shadow.
The New Goddess of television, radio, news, and media. Media is sugary sweet, but ultimately threatening. She tries to convince Shadow to join the New Gods, but is unsuccessful.
Robbie Burton
Shadow’s best friend and the husband of Audrey Burton. Laura begins an affair with Robbie while Shadow is in jail, ending when they both die in a car crash.
Sam Fetisher
A fellow convict while Shadow is in prison, who sees that there is something odd about Shadow. Fetisher refers to the Voodoo priests of Africa.
An ancient woolly mammoth god who leads the first tribe into America around 14,000 B.C. Atsula refuses to listen to Nunyunnini, and the tribe eventually forgets this god once they are in the new land.
Mr. Wood
A thug for the New Gods, and a symbol of people’s worship of tools. Mr. Wood captures Shadow but is killed by Laura.
Mr. Stone
A thug for the New Gods, and a symbol of people’s worship of tools. Mr. Stone captures Shadow but is killed by Laura.
Mr. Town
One of the New Gods, who gains power from people’s worship of civilization. In trying to deliver the ash stick to Mr. World, Mr. Town meets Laura and dies by her hand.
A young man from Oman who lives in New York City but is seduced and captured by the jinn Ibraham.
Marguerite Olsen
A woman in Lakeside who distrusts Shadow. Marguerite is also Sam Black Crow’s sister and Leon and Sandy’s mother. Though sad after the disappearance of Sandy, Marguerite seems ready to come back to life with Chad Mulligan’s help.
Sandy Olsen
Marguerite Olsen’s oldest son, rumored to have run away with his father though he was really one of Hinzelmann’s sacrifices.
Leon Olsen
Marguerite’s youngest son, who loves Shadow’s coin tricks.
Alison McGovern
A pre-teen girl in Lakeside who goes missing, then is discovered as the sacrifice for Hinzelmann this year.
Alison’s friend in Lakeside.
Ibraham bin Irem (The Taxi Driver)
An Arabian jinn who drives a taxi in New York City and steals Salim’s life in order to free himself.
Harry Bluejay
A Lakota man and Whiskey Jack’s “nephew,” though Harry himself denies any familial connection. Harry helps Shadow get a new car for his road trip, and generally follows what Whiskey Jack tells him he should do.
Johnnie Larch
A fellow inmate while Shadow is in prison, who gets released but is arrested again when the airport does not accept his credit cards.
John Richardson
A tobacco farmer in 18th century Norfolk, Virginia. John buys Essie Tregowan from indentured servitude and eventually marries her.
Essie Tregowan’s first son.
John Richardson Jr.
Essie Tregowan’s second son by John Richardson.
Phyllida Richardson
John Richardson’s daughter by his first wife, raised by Essie Tregowan.
A girl sold into slavery with her twin, Agasu, who channels the god Elegba and teaches voodoo in Louisiana.
A boy sold into slavery with his twin, Wututu, who channels the god Elegba and participates in the slave revolt to form the Republic of Haiti.
One of the Morrigan, an Irish war goddesses and one of the fiercest of the Old Gods.
One of the Old Gods, the King of the Dwarves in Norse mythology.
Samatha Black Crow’s girlfriend.