|The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Loki, mischief maker of the Norse gods gets a chance to set the record straight in this fun, action-enhanced romp that will please mythology purists and Marvel comic fans as much as casual bystanders.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: February 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Loki is a shape shifter and the most recent addition to the Norse gods in the halls of Asgard. He’s there to help the likes of Odin and Thor but sometimes things go wrong or his actions are misunderstood. Loki definitely doesn’t deserve his ‘Trickster’ nickname and will explain why to anyone who will listen. This is Loki's gospel, his long-overdue side of the story and it’s all here: how he arranged a mason to rebuild Asgard (shame about the horse), his marriage to Sygni, the problems fathering a werewolf and giving birth to a foal, what Freyja’s gold necklace cost mankind and, of course, that day Thor became a beautiful bride. (An occasion Thor has never spoken of since for some reason!) Indeed, Loki is there to help and facilitate - if anyone tells you differently, don’t believe them!
Joanne M Harris is better known in the world of adult literature without the ‘M’ and for books such as Chocolat and the recent sequel Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé ]]. However younger readers already know her via the manifestations of her passion for Norse mythology via Runemarks (2007) and Runelight (2011). So now it’s we grown-ups’ turn as we’re gifted with a Norse mythology novel with a twist and all the earthy exuberance befitting our age and life experience.
The great news is that Joanne is a natural story teller who knows a few things about comedy timing. I was snorting with laughter in a most unladylike manner before even emerging from the cast list. Once past the cast, individual episodes are as accessible as 'dip-ins' as they are in one sitting.
Loki’s autobiography is a retelling of the original legends so purists will experience a pleasurable recognition while we all enjoy the modern language and freshness of Loki’s viewpoint. For instance the story of the stallion Svadifari and the rebuilding of Asgard begins with a speculative quote from a passing builder. We also find out how Thor got his hammer and how he was ‘encouraged’ (loathe to say ‘tricked’) by Loki to dress up in drag.
Reading between the lines, Loki must be a complete pain but his charm, spin-ability and talent in wheedling shines through. He comes over as a lusty, older Just William (if William Brown was a shape-shifting Norse god) as we wallow in his adventures, realising why the others blame him but we don't have the heart to tell him.
Speaking of the other gods, Thor, Odin et al are a disparate bunch, more angry than welcoming in Loki's eyes. Odin is pretty bright but not all have his intelligent, many not recognising skill or even subtlety when they see it. Take Hohir for instance; he’s called Hohir the Silent in the hope that one day he’ll take the hint!
I must admit that I didn’t know much about the myths prior to reading Loki's novel so each twist came as a surprise. Would prior knowledge be too great a spoiler? Probably not; after all this is a voice and reasoning that has been sadly silent till now. Indeed Loki feels he’s deserved the platform that Joanne has afforded him and after indulging in an enchanted (and enchanting) world of battles, fiendish plots and much guffawing, I agree heartily!
A most definite thank you to Gollancz providing us with a copy for review.
Further Reading: If you'd like to sample Joanne when not in fantasy mode, try Five Quarters of the Orange. On the other hand, if you enjoy escaping into ancient mythology and would rather stick with that, we also recommend The Last King of Lydia by Tim Leach.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris at Amazon.com.
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris is in the Top Ten Fantasy Novels of 2014.
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