The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris.
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.
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.
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.
Harris is one of my favourite authors. I read Chocolat when I was sixteen, and I’ve reread it three times since because it’s so beautifully bizarre and stirringly strange. There’s an effortless humour behind her writing, which is probably why her latest novel focusing on the legendary trickster god worked so well.
The Gospel of Loki is wondrous. Harris delves into Norse mythology from a new angle, this time portraying everything from the perspective of one of the most complex villains of all time. And boy does she have fun with his narrative.
I want Loki as my best friend, and not only because to be his enemy would be asking for serious trouble. Harris turns him into a sarcastic devil with an attitude problem, but one with somewhat more believable motives than simply wanting to wreak havoc on the Nine Worlds. He’s more complicated than he would have his brother gods know – he hides the brewing storm inside him with a wry grin and mentally plans the downfall of everyone he knows whilst making crude jokes. That’s probably why I love him so much – because he’s like a bored, grumpy teenager at a family reunion that uses wit and sarcasm to hide his dismay. Except, like, on steroids.
It’s difficult to find fault with this novel. Harris did well in ensuring that while it’s beautifully written, it’s still entertaining. I had so much fun reading it, and recommend it to anyone looking for a lighter fantasy read.
Recommended to: Lovers of badass boys or complex villains.
The Last Word
I just have to stress how hilarious Loki is. He’s like that moody best friend that tells the most bizarre stories, and somehow gets away with anything and everything.
He’s honest: “Well, that’s history for you, folks. Unfair, untrue and for the most part written by folk who weren’t even there.”
He’s humble: “Loki, that’s me. Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies.”
And above all, he’s wise: “Most problems can be solved through cake.”