The Gospel of Loki

The Gospel of Loki

Book - 2014
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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. But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds. 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.
Publisher: London : Gollancz, c2014.
ISBN: 9781473202368
Characteristics: 302 pages ;,25 cm.

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SPL_Robyn Mar 17, 2017

Blind Date 2017 comment: "Never... big disappointment truly... a slant / version / account of fallen angels and the children they spawned by human women, the giants of old, before Noah's flood."

JCLChrisK Nov 20, 2015

What a marvelously fun character study! What an enjoyable vehicle for encountering Norse mythology.

Harris began her first novel involving the Nordic gods and legends, Runemarks, with: Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again. This book is everything that led up to that end of the world, also known as Ragnarok to those whose world it ended, as dispensed through the singular lens of one of its key players, the titular Loki. And Marvel Comics this is not.

The voice of "Your Humble Narrator" is apparent from the very first bit of introductory matter, the list of characters. That is followed by his marvelously clever and inviting foreword, four "books," each with a series of "lessons," and a short epilogue. The bulk of the book is a chronological collection of the major Norse myths involving the Trickster, including his pivotal role betraying the gods and precipitating the end of their world. Loki's narration freshens anything familiar into something new to discover again and makes accessible anything unfamiliar. Though he can't entirely disguise the episodic and isolated nature of the many original tales, he stitches them together into a cohesive whole with a convincing plot and character arc. Woven into the tales is Loki's commentary on them, which exposes him as an egotistical outsider secretly yearning for belonging and acceptance who turns vengefully bitter in the face of failure. His chaotic, destructive nature becomes much more relatable for it even as he does some truly despicable things. He most definitely has a debonair con artist's slick tongue that always keeps his company entertaining, even as you know you shouldn't let yourself get sucked into his deceptions.

Reading this has motivated me to go back and give Runemarks another read, along with the sequel Runelight that I haven't yet. Not admirable or wise, Loki is nevertheless a whole lot of fun.

Levi_Hayes Oct 26, 2015

I came at this naturally as a Marvel Loki fan, but also knowing it would be based purely off the mythology. Despite my interest in Asgardian culture I never bothered to look up the source, so reading this book as a kind of introduction to that was really cool, and I was actually surprised by a few events which is hard for a book to do these days. Yet another book by the superb Joanne Harris, making it a third from her that I have read and not been disappointed by! I was likely coming into the mythology heavily biased by Marvel, but I have to say that despite that the book was still really enjoyable and very Loki in style. Devious, self-serving, and witty, the first-person narration is all you would ever expect from Loki.

a
ADWithrow
Aug 13, 2015

I just couldn't get into this. Maybe it was the craziness of the holidays or I am just burnt out...who knows. I love Loki but this book just didn't grab me at all.

1
1Hobbit6
Jul 06, 2015

I really liked this book. I feel like it really demonstrates the fact that everybody (no matter how misguided or evil they are) has got their own story.

jingfei570 May 06, 2014

This book was great! It really captured Loki's life story.

DanniOcean May 02, 2014

reviewed in the Stratford Gazette

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JCLChrisK Nov 20, 2015

That's how religions and histories make their way into the world, not through battles and conquests, but through poems and kennings and songs, passed through generations and written down by scholars and scribes. . . .

After all, words are what remain when all the deeds have been done. Words can shatter faith, start a war, change the course of history. A story can make your heart beat faster, topple walls, scale mountains--Hey, a story can even raise the dead. And that's why the King of Stories ended up being King of the gods, because writing history and making history are only the breadth of a page apart.

JCLChrisK Nov 20, 2015

"Sticks and stones may break my bones," as they say in the Middle Worlds, but with the right words you can build a world and make yourself the king of it.

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DanniOcean Mar 28, 2015

Rogue. The word could have been invented for the Norse trickster demon-god, Loki. A rogue demon before he joins Odin’s forces, a rogue demi-god before his antics get him kicked out of Asgard, a rogue, full-blown god before he helps bring an end to the entire world. His two favourite catch-phrases are “So shoot me” (usually followed by ‘I did it anyway’), and “It wasn’t my fault” (although generally it is.)

It is a very unusual departure from Joanne M. Harris’ usual novels which feature quietly strong female protagonists with a touch of natural magic – her most famous being Vienne, the confection-maker in Chocolat. Written instead in a male voice, this protagonist is a lord of Magical Chaos (capital M, capital C), a demon-god who does what he wants when he wants to whom he wants, damn the consequences. The consequences are usually pretty dire, of course – these are gods we’re talking about after all. Harris invokes the entire canon of them, but this is not a Marvel Comic version of events (although you can be forgiven for hearing Tom Hiddleston’s voice as you read – hopefully he will be tapped to narrate the audiobook), so do not expect a Thor-Loki match-up. In this version Odin and Loki are the brothers (in a sense) and Thor is just another god whom Loki does not trust (the feeling is mutual). Harris’ Loki experiences a few twinges of conscience (he’d say he doesn’t have “feelings”), and while they are not enough to completely redeem him, they do give him one more layer of complexity than a lord of Chaos might wish to have.

Loki’s adventures are entertaining, his perspective a bit warped and his description of the other gods hilariously contemporary (for example “Honin – the Silent. Never shuts up.”) The story is indeed epic, and the setting is deliberately vague – it could be at the beginning of time, it could be some decades ago, it could be in the not-too-distant future. The tone is quite current although the time-span covered is apparently several ages – gods live a long time it seems, but time passes quickly for them. That is a lot of ground to cover in a normal-sized novel but the pace is almost dizzyingly fast – perfect then, for a trickster god who loves to keep his fans guessing.

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