Wednesday, November 1, 2017

REVIEW: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

The Road to Ragnarok continues...

4.5/5 stars
PG-13: for sexual references, some language, violence
Recommend to fans of Norse mythology, villains, antiheroes, and/or Loki
Note: This is an original novel and in no way associated with the character in Marvel comics or movies.

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.
With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.
From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.
(via Goodreads)

"Now it's his turn."

This simple catchphrase did the trick. It both intrigued me and made me wary. The biggest failings -and most common versions- of villain origin or perspective stories is that the villains are made out to be 'misunderstood heroes' only by changing the other characters and events of the story so drastically as to make the original version incompatible. I really, really hate that. If you're going to do a villain story, have the decency and skill to make the villain interesting or sympathetic without changing the details of the original, okay?! (I'm looking at you, Fairest of All and Maleficent; looking at you.) And if someone decides to tackle Loki's story -well, that could be really good or really, really bad. Either way, that catchphrase made sure I couldn't rest until I knew which it was.

I don't know if I've maybe mentioned this before, but I'm a little (a lot) obsessed with Loki. As of Thor: The Dark World and Loki: Agent of Asgard I've become obsessed specifically with his potential redemption arc story lines.

The Gospel of Loki is not one of these. It is both an 'origin' story of the God of Mischief and a retelling of the bulk of Norse mythology from Loki's side. Initially, I had misgivings because Harris is also the author of Chocolat, a book I enjoyed until the ending absolutely ruined it for me. But I needed more Loki after Agent of Asgard.

And, my dear fellow readers, I'm happy to report that THIS IS THE KIND OF ORIGIN STORY I CRAVE.

Loki, as depicted by Harris, is a compelling and sympathetic character I can't help falling in love with. He's witty, sly, clever, and irreverent; misunderstood, misused, spiteful, and lovable. Harris masters his voice, which feels both familiar and unique. Loki starts out neither villain nor hero and -by the end- he doesn't completely fall into the villain category because his foes aren't quite heroes themselves. Every character here -from Odin and Thor to Frigg and Heimdall- is more gray than black or white. Even watching Loki descend closer and closer into bad guy territory, I never stopped being on his side.
"Basically, never trust anyone." -Lokabrenna | The Gospel of Loki, pg 62
The Gospel of Loki -or Lokabrenna- is broken into books, which are then broken into the many 'lessons' Loki learned throughout his involvement with the other Norse gods. I don't know a lot about Norse mythology but I did recognize quite a few of the tales recounted here. Harris does a fantastic job -in voice and in story- shifting these tales into Loki's point of view and then seamlessly piecing them together into a larger tapestry of Loki's history. With each step Loki takes closer to unleashing Ragnarok, I couldn't stop cheering for him, crying for him, and wanting him to win. On the verge of releasing the Norse Armageddon, Loki still made sense to me. I understood his motivations and his frustrations so well I couldn't really blame him for it -that is what I crave in a book. 

This is an entertaining read, equally hilarious and gut-wrenching, masterfully woven from beginning to Ragnarok. When I first finished it, I really, really wanted a sequel, because there's so much potential for one, and I want to see so much more with this character. But I finally convinced myself that it actually could be the perfect and that it didn't need a sequel. AND THEN I FOUND OUT THIS IS A PREQUEL!


The RUNE series has two books already, published in 2007 and 2011.

But wait.


I'm in love, you guys. In love. This is one of those moments that the book fairies have smiled down at me and said, "You know that crazy thing you wished for, that you thought wouldn't come true in a hundred years? Well here it is."

At least I'll have some more Loki shenanigans in Thor: Ragnarok to tide me over until then.

1 day to Ragnarok!

What's your favorite book based off mythology or folklore?

The Road to Ragnarok
Don't miss a post!
Rewatching Thor  

No comments:

Post a Comment