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

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the gosple of loki

This book kept catching my eyes in the bookstore for months. I kept dismissing it thinking that its release was just a gimmick to cash in on how popular Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of ‘Loki’ in the Marvel Movie franchise has become in the last few years. Honestly that was my first (and second, and third) thoughts about the book. Genuinely if you think this book has anything to do with Tom Hiddleston stop reading now if that’s all you care about, because it doesn’t; this has nothing to do with Marvel Films or comic books.

I am so glad that I put aside my reservations, because I have rediscovered my love of Norse Mythology. If you’re like me and you’ve read viking sagas then you will know that in their original form they are almost impenetrable. The stories within them though are fantastic, and Joanne Harris’ retelling of them from the perspective of Loki, the trickster god is very appealing. As most anti-hero’s are, he is a very compelling character and Harris has crafted a brilliant voice for him as he tells you his story.

The purpose of the book is to retell the viking stories from a different perspective; the book really appeals to the historian within me that knows all to well that history is written by the victors. From Loki’s viewpoint Odin has written history, and not being the most popular guy he doesn’t feel he’s come out all that well.

The book about the rise and fall of Asgard told by a witty demon-born god who emerged from chaos into the world of order. It is essentially a series of short stories which makes the stories of Norse Mythology a lot easier to discover. It also makes it great for reading on a commute and you don’t run the risk of getting to your destination in the middle of a long chapter. Each chapter is also a little mortality tale in itself; usually it is a tale of who you need to learn to not trust. My particular favourite though that almost every problem can be solved with cake. Yeah, that’s pretty sound wisdom.

Harris as made Loki a character that is very easy to relate to; I’m sure we’ve all been the least popular person in a room at some point, usually without good reason. While Loki doesn’t think there is a good reason most of the time, I for one can relate to being mocked by the ‘popular’ crowd simply because I wasn’t one of them. The distrust that they have for Loki is that he comes from chaos. However the great irony is, if they had given him the chance, if they had trusted him from the start and not let their pride and their prejudices cloud their judgement, then they might have actually discovered that Loki is that all that bad a guy, that he wouldn’t have done half the things he did to them.

However having that opinion though I think comes from Harris crafting a protagonist you do sympathize with, because if you look objectively at what he does he isn’t really a good guy. Not really, but then I have never looked objectively at Loki. He’s good fun, and Harris’ characterization of him is very alluring. It is a book I will go back to again and again.

Oh and if you do read the book, go back and re-read the character list at the beginning. It doesn’t make much sense before you know the story, but once you do Loki’s sarcastic wit makes it all the more amusing.

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: New Year’s Resolutions – Book Tag | A Young Writer's Notebook

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman | A Young Writer's Notebook

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