June Bookclub Review: The Gospel of Loki

Tuesday 30 June 2015 by

The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Published by Gollancz

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 master, 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.

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Bear with me whilst I effuse with tremendous joy over The Gospel of Loki. This is a brilliant book full of wry humour and glittering storytelling. If you follow Joanne Harris on Twitter, you’ll know she is a superb wordsmith – especially on the fly. And this book has the pacing that matches Harris’ quick-witted storytelling.

It is speedy, hilarious (I got a few odd looks on the Tube as I snorted with laughter), and tells the story of the ultimate trickster: Loki. Forget the familiar story you know from the Marvel universe – this is Loki in his true wildfire form. And he’s better than all you can imagine.

The premise of the novel is the story of the Gods from the point of view of Loki – from the moment he is taken from Chaos by Odin, to the moment he takes his final stand at Ragnarok. If you know nothing of the Viking Gods, you don’t have to worry; Loki will fill you in on the details. And they aren’t as shiny and all-powerful as they would want you to think.

The telling itself is tongue-in-cheek, blending modern slang with the old tales. Each chapter revolves around an anecdote – each a famous Viking story but has a Loki-twist on it. The other Gods come off looking like fools, and yet Loki isn’t squeaky clean either (although you forgive him that because he’s just so charming). Everything is building towards Ragnarok, and Loki knows it, despite trying to fight against it. The threads twist together until the inevitable end, and there is a certain satisfaction in that. In fact, this is probably the first book in a while that doesn’t let itself down with a rubbish ending.

Ultimately, this is a fantastic anti-hero story – as good, if not better, than the Gentleman Bastards series. Loki is a compelling storyteller (as you would expect him to be), and his story is worth hearing. I managed to read this in two and a half days with barely a pause between it was so good. But above all of this, it’s downright hilarious. And that is what makes it so refreshing: this is not the intense literary drama that drags down your spirit, but an uproarious, joyful story. This is the book you read that leaves you smiling and uplifted. This is the book that makes you wish you were mates with Loki, or better yet – with Joanne Harris.

“These are the people you’re going to meet in the pages of this book. A word of advice: don’t trust any of them.”

What did you think of The Gospel of Loki?

July’s House of Blog Bookclub is totally different! In honour of #HoBSummerEats, July will be the cookbook Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Tweet your thoughts through the hashtag #HoBBookclub on Twitter or write on the wall on the House of Blog Facebook page.

1 Comment

  1. I finished this last weekend and absolutely loved it! It was such a fun journey through Norse mythology, and let’s be honest, it would be very difficult to make Loki boring… my only issue was that the almost constant references to “Yours Truly” etc kinda grated but as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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