Book Review: The Gospel of Loki

10:48 07 February 2014

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M Harris

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M Harris

Archant

These ain’t your ancestors’ Norse myths...

By Joanne M Harris

(Gollancz, £14.99 hardback, £7.99 eBook)

Thanks to the show-stealing performance by Tom Hiddleston as the Asgardian trickster Loki in the recent Thor and Avengers films, Joanne M Harris’ new interpretation of the character’s history is remarkably timely.

Had Hiddleston not brought the god of mischief into the mainstream, few people would be aware of his role in Norse mythology, or even his contemporaries Thor and Odin. But whereas Harris could rely on book sales on the strength of her name and reputation, the movies have guaranteed that the subjects of her first fantasy novel are recognised by a much wider audience.

Loki’s relationship to the Gods varies from source to source, and in this version Harris has him as a demonic shapeshifter brought into Asgard by Odin as his brother, rather than the half-man, half-giant adopted brother of Thor seen in the Marvel movies and comics.

However, what remains are the traits which have characterised the trickster throughout his long existence: his arrogance, his wit, his deviousness, his charisma and his untrustworthiness. He is the original charming rogue, and his exploits are thoroughly entertaining as a consequence.

Based on many of the stories featured in the poem Lokasenna (“Loki’s quarrel” in Old Norse), there’s a deliberate contemporary approach in Harris’ storytelling. As a lifelong expert on Norse mythology, she obviously realises a direct translation of these centuries-old tales would be lacking the pace, characterisation and development modern readers would expect to find in her work.

The aim of this version of the myths is to put across Loki’s side of the story, from his recruitment as the Asgardians’ dirty tricks operative, his initially playful pranks and misdeeds, his perhaps inevitable fall from grace, and his role in the events of Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods…

Fun, witty and wholly entertaining, this is a neat retelling of classic legends which maintains their ancient roots without diminishing them in any way through the use of a modern filter.

More news stories

10:59
Charity trustee Alan Sharkey with the empty defibrillator box. Picture: STEVE WILLIAMS

Thieves have stolen a community defibrillator from outside the home of a charity founder.

10:23
Please help find Goochie the blind and deaf dog

Two search parties - one setting off at 6am and one at 9am - will be trying to find a blind and deaf dog after his owner believes he was stolen.

City Road car park in March.

No car parking charges can be introduced in Fenland’s market town car parks until a comprehensive spending review is carried out, which councillors are confident would prove they are not a good idea, it was agreed at Fenland District Council last night.

15:45
Althea Waites standing underneath her flag outside the House of Commons.

Primary school pupil Althea Waites is flying high after her flag design won a competition – and it is now flapping outside the House of Commons.

Most read stories

Most commented stories

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Cambs Times e-edition today E-edition