The Gospel of Loki – Joanne Harris

‘I know a tale, o sons of earth.
I speak it as I must.
Of how nine tree gave life to Worlds
That giants held in trust.

Ok. Stop. Stop right there.
That was the Authorized Version’

The-Gospel-of-Loki

Loki, that’s me.
Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.
So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.
Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

 

What I thought

Like most people I know Joanne Harris from Chocolat, and was interested when I discovered that she had branched out into fantasy I was intrigued. I already knew that she was a very good and accomplished writer but it’s always interesting and a bit of a risk moving into genre fiction. But no one should be concerned, Harris knows her craft and the fact that she’s telling stories about magic rather than a small french village makes absolutely no difference. This story is amazingly well told, from the very beginning you know what kind of person the main character is. In fact before the beginning you know this, at the front of this book is a list of all characters and a brief description of them and the that you ‘shouldn’t trust any of them’. It’s such a perfect introduction because not only do you get a full list of all of the gods but you already know all the backstory you’ll ever need to know about them and how they interact with each other and with ‘Yours Truly’  This character list is not something I’ve ever seen before, (although Wheel of Time has a list at the end as well as a glossary but it’s completely objective).

The way the different stories are linked together is (unsurprisingly) well done. A lot of the acnient myths and legends are always told separately from each other, and seeing them in progression really does show that these myths were the ancient soap operas. (A.N: If you’re interested Stephen Fry’s book Mythos does this brilliantly for Greek myths). These gods may have been all powerful but they were also fighting against people with equal power and were also fallible and has a disjointed sense on honour which means that someone like Loki who is from Chaos was always going to be on the outside. He doesn’t rely on his strength instead preferring to use his magic and his brain to get out of situations.

You feel for Loki the whole way through this book, it doesn’t matter that he’s a trickster or that he lives in a world of gray morals rather than black and white. There are many lines that he won’t cross but for him the end will always justify the means and he really does do these things for good reasons. Or because he’s bored…. You can see all the backstabbing coming and yet it still hurts, from the beginning Loki believes in the best in Odin and the other gods. He knows that he’s not popular but he takes them at their word and if Odin says he’ll be treated as a brother then that should mean something – the fact that the character list says that he ‘would (and did) throw his brother to the wolves for a percentage’ means that the relationship was always going to go wrong.

 

Why I read it:

I was given this one for my birthday from my sister, and it’s easy to see why she picked it out for me. Not only is it a retelling of Norse Mythology, something she knows that I’ve always been interesting but it’s told from the antagonist’s point of view – Loki. Ever since the Marvel Universe Loki’s popularity has soared, but there is something about the god of lies and mischief that has always appealed to me. In the myths he was never shown as being bad, he was simply able to think and talk his way out of situations rather than using brute strength.

Final Thought

Joanne Harris has definitely moved away from Chocolat (one of my favourite non-genre books) and others and has become a staple of the fantasy genre and this is one any fantasy reader should have on their bookcase.
It’s an amazing retelling, pulling in stories that a lot of people partially know and turning them on their head.

 

Did I enjoy it? I raced through this book, a very enjoyable read.
Would I read again? Definitely. I’m planning on reading ‘The Testament of Loki’, and want to reread this first.
Am I glad I read it? Very glad I read it.
Would I recommend? Always. While writing this I was in town with a friend and have agreed to give it to him next week. He’s looking to get more into Fantasy and I think this is a great one for people who haven’t read much of the genre

 

2019 Challenges

PopSugar: Should be turned into a film, Set in Scandinavia (this one really depends in how strict you are. It’s not directly set in Scandinavia but it’s based on their myths. It’s a bit of a fudge but not that much of one), featuring an extinct or imaginary creature, about a family (all of the gods are one unhappy family, inspired by mythology, legend, or folklore, includes a wedding,

Read Harder: Mythology/Folklore

 

Two blogs within a week *gasp, shock and horror*. Let me know what you think and if you’ve read the second one.

See you soon.
Rea

P.S The next review is ‘Zenith’ by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

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