Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris (2014)

gospel-of-loki.jpgJoanne Harris, of Chocolate fame (which you knew already, right?), has written her first adult fantasy novel, which introduces us to the life of the world’s most infamous trickster, Loki.

I know what you’re thinking and it starts with H cough Hiddleston cough and as great as the on-screen version of Loki is Harrison recounts of life with the Gods of Asgard as if you were having a drink with him in a pub, which is something you’d never get from Hollywood.

And what a tale it is. Odin calls forth Loki and is bound to him as a brother (yes BROTHER) and takes him to Asgard though Loki never quite fits in. But the Father of Lies isn’t EVIL as such he’s just misunderstood plus it’s in his nature to be disruptive.

Harris sets the tone at the start with Loki’s slightly snarky though charming introduction of the cast of characters we’re going to encounter before interrupting the recounting of the ‘authorised’ version of events of told by ‘The Prophecy of the Oracle’ (her (very loose) verse translation of Voluspá) before moving on to the main event and telling us all the lessons he’s learnt from his life as the Bringer of Light.

It’s a big task for Harris to introduce readers to a whole pantheon of characters who may be unfamiliar when compared to the likes of Loki, Thor and Odin but she manages it with ease. And then manages to recount Asgard’s entire history without it feeling like a stale history lesson. Quite to opposite.

Loki is a silver-tongued storyteller as each mini-tale (or lesson as he frames them) builds and builds revealing more and more of the Loki’s nature and his motivations but also sets out the tests and trials that Odin has him endure for the good of Asgard.

He does bring a fair bit of it on himself but you are left wondering how much of what happens is the gods’ own self-fulling prophecy and how different it would have been if they’d just built him a hall of his own treated him as one their own instead of a constant scapegoat?

I dare you not to fall for his charms and feel sorry for him by the time this tale is done. Though you may not agree with what he ends up doing especially when you how lovely his wife.

There are some amazing set pieces, which I’ve been very tempted to research and compare but you know I’m just going to enjoy the ‘reality’ The Gospel of Loki for a little bit longer.

It’s hard to convey in this review how enjoyable Loki is but hopefully a bit of his ‘wisdom’ via his lessons will give you an idea:

Love is boring. People in love even more so …

&

Friendship is overrated. Who needs friendship when you can have the certitudes of hostility. You know where you stand with an enemy. You know he won’t betray you. It’s the ones who claim to be your friends that you to beware of.

&, finally

Never Trust a wise man to do the work of a felon.

And on that note I’ll wrap up. Harris’ Loki has redeemed what has started off as a bit of a shaky reading year with an epic tale of Gods, demons, and the end of the world. I couldn’t be happier or more enthralled by The Gospel of Loki and his bringing of Ragnarök to the gods of Asgard.

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