The Gospel of Loki
Joanne M. Harris
Gollancz, 2014. 302 p. ISBN 978-1-473-20237-5. £8.99
Read the first chapter.
According to the cover of the book, this is ‘the epic story of the trickster god’, and I think that suits the story better than the word ‘gospel’. It reminded me more of the stories of Baron Munchhausen. But it is the narrator himself who calls it ‘gospel’, and the chapters ‘lessons’. You may have heard other versions of the story, but this is Loki’s own view. “I’m calling it Lokabrenna, or in rough translation, the Gospel of Loki. 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.”
‘Yours Truly’ is the narrator, and the subject of the book is his own live, in retrospect. That means he gives references to what will happen later – cliffhangers! – and apologetic comments. “What can I say? It’s the Chaos in me”. “It was, after all, my nature.” The reader understands Loki has no other choice than to fulfil his destiny. And by doing so, playing an important role in the destiny of the Aesir and Vanir in Asgard, and of the Ice Folk and the Rock Folk of the Middle Worlds. The tale is not new, it’s only retold from a new perspective. And like the tale of Arthur can be retold times and times again, so can the tales of the Norse gods be retold. Each time from a different angle, covering aspects that have not been illuminated before.
This book is ‘the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster’. Joanne Harris uses modern day language (‘sales pitch’, ‘high profile’) and a very casual speaking style to give Loki a voice. The story is so compelling that I almost missed my bus stop twice, being absorbed by the book, wanting to reach the end of a chapter. Definitely recommended!