Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Summary:

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed tgol-covermaster, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

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.

Goodreads

Thoughts:

I practically devoured this book. I rarely listen to audiobooks on the weekends, instead saving them for my commute and for when I’m working on projects in the office, but I had a lot of housework to do and prep work for my tea party and once I started listening to this one I just couldn’t stop–it was so much fun! The audiobook was narrated by Allan Corduner and I can’t recommend this book in audio enough–he really embraced the character of Loki in this and it was a blast to listen to.

I think the only possible downside with this book is that it may have been better if I had a little more knowledge on Norse mythology. We’re getting Loki’s story here from his POV, so of course it’s bias in his favor but I’m not sure how accurate everything is to the original mythology. I’m assuming the basics are there, but since I only have a surface level understanding (some of the god’s names and what they’re god of…) I have no frame of reference. (I’m a terrible pagan, ok? I mean, the Greek pantheon is more my thing, I don’t really know much about anything else. Whoops!) Anywho, my lack of knowledge not withstanding, I still had a heck of a lot of fun with this one.

Since Loki is the protagonist and he’s known to be a trickster sort, never knowing whose side he’ll be on in any given situation, this made for interesting storytelling. Even when Loki is being ‘bad’, well, he’s pretty shameless about it. Most of the times he’s actively interfering in various situations but he has this sort of laissez faire attitude about his own personality in that he feels like ‘well, this is who I am so what did you expect, of course this is what’s going to happen when you ask someone born from chaos to intervene?’ Like it’s all beyond his control anyway. He feels rather casual about some of the not so great choices he makes. And sometimes when he’s being what he perceives is especially clever and things get him and the other gods into a bit of a muck he is mad not at the muck that’s been created, but that he’s not being recognized for his cleverness.

And still, despite all of that, you’re kind of rooting for him. Loki is self-centered and capricious but he’s not completely heartless. Not at all. The one thing that is brought up over and over is how he never really fit in with the other gods. He’s at times jealous and acts out accordingly, but we’re made to feel everything through his eyes and why he feels this way. Like Odin brought him into the world of the gods and then he was shunted to the side. In some ways, I started feeling bad for him. But then, he’s a rascal so it’s tough to completely feel for him because he’s so exasperating! It’s not always a cute look, lol. But I love books that make me feel things right along side of the characters and this has that in spades.

Overall I really enjoyed this trip through Norse mythology through Loki’s narrative. The audiobook was a great experience as well and I’m very much looking forward to getting around to the second book. 4/5 stars.

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15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

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  1. Oooh I love this book! I initially was meh about it, but it stuck with me for months after reading it and now it’s a favourite. I paired it with Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, which was really helpful as I’m not well-versed in Norse mythology either.

  2. I really enjoy when Joanne Harris writes Fantasy. I read Runemarks and Runelight and thought that they were brilliant. Your review makes me want to check this one out as well!

  3. I loved Harris’s take on Loki. Glad to hear the audiobook was well done too, and actually I’ve been thinking of picking up the follow-up in audio format. If it’s read by the same narrator, I’m probably going to have to check it out.

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