Friday, July 10, 2015

The Gospel of Loki

Joanne M. Harris
Completed 6/24/2015, Reviewed 7/42015
3 stars

Loki is part of the Norse pantheon.  He’s the trickster, called out of the fires of Chaos by Odin, the thorn in the side of the other gods and humans alike, and the instigator behind Ragnorok, the “doom of the gods”.  For the first time, Loki tells his side of the story.  Told with contemporary language and slang, “The Gospel of Loki” is a fun introduction into the Norse gods.  However, as a novel, it left me a little disappointed.

Harris creates a fun, interesting character in Loki.  Most of the book consists of tales from mythology told from Loki’s point of view.  No matter how tragic the stories are, his perspective adds a dry, ironic sense of humor.  In every one of the stories, he always finds a way to make it come out in his favor, more or less.  Not all of the gods find this humorous though.  Eventually, it puts him at odds with everyone, even Odin, his main benefactor. 

Unfortunately, that’s the where the book falls apart for me.  I like Loki, but the nature of the stories and the nonchalant narrative style kept me from developing a deep relationship with him.  So when his lovers, children, and the other gods begin to turn on him, it didn’t have much emotional impact.  Without this, I found it difficult to buy into his revenge game. 

This book is quite short.  It makes me wonder if it was edited too heavily, leaving out deeper character development.  I often come across books that I think could have used a hundred less pages.  This is perhaps the first that I’d say could have used a hundred more pages.  Gaiman’s “American Gods” featured Norse gods with much more depth despite relatively little page time.  I’d recommend that over “Loki” if you want a meaty novel.  While this book is not geared towards children, it reminds me of the “children’s versions” of the Greek and Roman mythologies I read from Scholastic press as a kid myself.  I remember the kid’s version of the Odyssey, thinking it fun, rather than tragic.  That’s how this book left me.  It’s a fun, light read, but sorely lacked any emotional depth or detail.  It mostly succeeded in making me want to take a course on the Poetic Edda.  I give it three out of five stars.

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