Book Review: The Gospel of Loki

The-Gospel-of-Loki

“primitive people always imagine their gods to be something like themselves”

The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne M. Harris, tells the story of the trickster god from his point of view. It is a playful romp through Norse mythology, from Odin’s recruitment of Loki when he was lured from the underworld of Chaos through to the part each of them played in Asgard’s downfall at Ragnarok.

For all his cunning and double crossing, Loki considers himself much put upon. His high opinion of himself rarely falters, his less than admirable actions he excuses as being the result of treatment he has suffered. The gods are portrayed as a vain and posturing set so Loki should have fitted right in. Their reticence and subsequent contempt may have been justified given his unpredictable behaviour, but led in no small part to their undoing.

“So shoot me. It’s my nature.”

Loki wanted acceptance and admiration. He also had appetites and desires that others found distasteful. As with all the best anti-heroes he had a vulnerable side to his character which he did his best to suppress but which endears him to the reader. The more conventional gods had beauty, power, wealth and esteem, but were equally ruthless.

Loki used and was used. His pursuits may have been vainglorious but it is hard not to take his side in this telling of events. As he points out at the beginning of the tale, this is his story, history written from his point of view.

“Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s as least as true as the official version and, dare I say it, more entertaining.”

The myths around the trickster are all included, told in a light and beguiling manner which brings Loki to life. Structured into short chapters which string the tales involving him together, there are lessons that can be applied to modern life. I did think the overall lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, but it is still an engaging read.

This is not the Marvel universe version of events, although I did have Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in my head as I read. As ever, he played the part rather well.

Recommended for all those who know something of the Norse gods but would like to know more. Also for those who, like me, knew little before Marvel but wish to be educated.

 

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Gratuitous picture of Tom Hiddleston as Loki. You’re welcome.