Okay, first off, this isn’t a bad thing, but a lot of the time sentences would jump out at me in Tom Hiddleston’s voice. It was pretty cool.
Anyway, so what’s this book! It’s The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris, the first person retelling of Norse mythology, with Loki as the main character, straight from the horse’s mouth (and that’s not just a phrase in this case!).
Before we get onto the story, writings and characters themselves I just want to make a quick comment about how the book itself. I can be a bit of a nerd for how books look and feel, I think that can really bring a book together. Even if the writing is phenomenal but it looks like something a dolphin’s sat on when it was waiting for the bus then it’s going to put me off.
Thankfully, there was no dolphin. The title and look of this book work very well together. I very much like the juxtaposition of the title; The Gospel of Loki, as he is a well known fiendish liar, and yet here we have his gospel, his truthful word.
Equally the cover illustration is exquisite. The bold lines and solid colours of the illustration is reminiscent of a stained glass window. The illustration draws upon many elements of the story to provide a wonderfully diverse colour scheme across the cover. All in all a brilliant design for this book.
But anyway onto the actual work.
So we follow Loki all the way from his origins in the very heart of chaos right up until Ragnarok, with all the highs, lows and middle-y bits that go with it.
At first I found it slightly jarring at times that the language was quite colloquial, that sort of thing doesn’t happen so often in an epic fantasy tale. It was slightly odd to read a sentence or a piece of dialogue with the gods talking to frost giants or something similar when the dialogue read; “Okay, just, like, calm down!” Alright it wasn’t that colloquial, but you see where I’m coming from.
But thankfully that doesn’t happen very often and once you’ve seen it happen a couple of times it actually fits in very well with the image of the cheeky and mischievous Loki with the silver tongue that I’m sure we’ve all come to know and love.
We start the story at the very beginning and get a nice overview of the characters, the setting and how everything generally works. Harris’ writing immediately puts you at your ease and lets you gently settle into how the tale is going to be told.
Harris very much captures the essence of the Loki character; mischievous but altogether good. It’s from the first person perspective of Loki and so comes across in pretty much all the aspects of her writing. There is never a word or phrase that doesn’t weave this image further into the book.
The storyline also presents a side of the mythology that doesn’t seem to get much of a look in nowadays. Odin is presented as a much more shady character than you would expect. This gives the book plenty of opportunity for twists and turns to keep you guessing and then keeps you guessing about guessing.
This book is very entertaining, it has all the right amounts of epic fantasy and tongue-in-cheek humour and an excellent mix of heroic and dastardly characters. Harris skillfully weaves the stereotypical evil Loki into a self-aware but misunderstood antihero with a heart of gold. Or at least a heart of fire that’s covered in gold.
I hope that you check this book out, it’s a wonderful piece by a wonderful author. Well worth your time.