Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Friday 1 August 2014

The Gospel of Loki
Joanne Harris
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Published: February 20th 2014
Pages: 302
Rating: 3 stars

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.

The Gospel of Loki was an interesting take on the Norse myths. I only had a very basic knowledge of the gods and goddesses and their stories (a lot of which came from the Marvel films and comics), so I didn't really know what to expect, other than I probably wouldn't end up reading information that conflicted with what I already knew.

While I did enjoy the tone of Loki's narration, I was not a fan of the way he and the other gods spoke and the words they used. I felt that it came across as very modern and similar to the way we speak now. I understand it was Loki's retelling of things that happened in the past, but the modern feel to things threw me off a bit, and I felt it took away a certain authenticity to what the characters had to say because, chances are, they wouldn't have spoken like that at the time the events first happened. I think I would have preferred it to read more like a historical fiction, but that's just personal preference.

The writing is another thing that I take issue with. While it was simple, I did find it a bit choppy in places and there were a few times where I had to re-read sentences to fully understand them or get my head around word choice and structure. Some of the dialogue felt a bit forced, but perhaps that was due to the nature of the story telling and not the dialogue itself. The inside cover of this book clearly states that it is an adult epic fantasy novel, but I personally found it to have little difference to a young adult novel. I feel that the adult part is more meant in the way of content, as there were a few brief mentions of sex and other 'adult' topics, but nothing I thought a mature reader couldn't handle. 

That being said, the concept of seeing things through Loki's eyes was very interesting. I often found myself feeling sorry for him and hating the other gods (but I do feel this was more because of how they were developed - or rather, how they weren't. But then I feel because the book is from Loki's perspective, we would only get to see all their bad points anyway.) so good job to the author for making me like her narrator.

Overall, despite the few things that did bug me, I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting, easy introduction to Norse mythology, and it has definitely peaked my interest in the subject.

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