Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris is a retelling of Norse mythology from the perspective of the trickster god, Loki. Now, I have to admit, my knowledge of Norse mythology is not very deep and is mostly limited to what I learned in American Gods and from the Thor movies. Because of that, many of the stories in this book, and some of the characters, were completely new to me. The book begins with an account of the creation of the worlds and the rise of gods and giants, as told by Loki, and then goes on to detail Loki's various exploits and his rollercoaster fame/infamy among the gods. Ending, of course, with the inevitability of Ragnarok.

I found myself a bit torn about liking or not liking this book. The book's "gospel" format allows it to do away with certain things necessary to most good books--most notably character development and a constant story thread. The lack of these were a bit of a downside because I found the book didn't quite capture my attention consistently. Since each tale was being told after the fact, the feeling of being involved in the action and wondering how each tale might end was missing. While I was reading it, I was interested, but the moment I put the book down I had no real pull to pick it back up again and continue reading. Harris tried to mitigate this by having Loki frequently hint at more to come or to mention that things weren't as good as they seemed, but I didn't find this motivating.

There was little development of any character besides Loki, and while that was likely intentional (he is the star of the book after all) it left me not caring much about any of the characters. Harris did do a good job of fleshing out Loki's character and really giving him a recognizable voice. I usually am drawn to mischievous characters anyway, so Loki's irreverent way of speaking and casual plotting were fun to read. At the same time, Loki's constant references to "yours truly" and "your humble narrator" as well as his pet phrase "so shoot me" really did begin to get on my nerves. I wonder if this wasn't Harris's intention all along as Loki isn't really meant to be completely likable. However, while his casual way of speaking added an irreverent humor to the book, the occasional anachronistic references ("as welcome as a turd in a hot tub") were distracting.

Most interesting to me was that the book contained a half formed idea that Loki initially was not so much a troublemaker but rather just clever and full of energy.. He initially used his wits to the gods' advantage, but slowly the gods refusal to accept him as one of their own drove him towards tricking the gods themselves and eventually becoming one of the driving forces of Ragnarok. I would really have liked to see a more developed plot there rather than sticking to occasional hints in that direction among the tales.

Even without knowing the tales, I got the feeling that this book didn't add a lot to them other than Loki's voice. However, for those unfamiliar with Norse mythology, The Gospel of Loki could be a fun way to learn some of the classic tales without needing to delve into the Prose Edda.


Newer Post Older Post Home