Review of The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris

Posted: September 5, 2014 in fantasy, Review
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the gospel of loki

It is what it says on the tin, a re-telling of the tales of Norse myth from the point of view of Loki. A thoroughly post-modern, and increasingly disagreeable Loki at that. He spends far too much time whining about how it isn’t his fault, when it’s entirely obvious that it is. But, that too, is part of the character. You’d really expect him to figure it out, but he never does; his character never really develops, which is possibly the point – the gods are archetypes and cannot change.

As for the book, it’s an enjoyable and cleverly written romp through mythology, with a number of laugh-out-loud moments. You know how it’s all going to end, only you don’t, and frankly I think the ending is the weakest part of the story, with a throwaway last line that simply doesn’t work, for me at least. It’s not the only problem. There are a number of references to Pandemonium which I had thought was Greek myth, unlike I looked it up, and discovered that it was coined by Milton for Paradise Lost. So, not Norse. Bragi, the god of poetry, is depicted as playing a lute… which is also not Norse! If he did play stringed instrument, it would be a harp or a lyre (yes really, they found one at Sutton Hoo, admittedly Anglo-Saxon, but at least the right period).

There are lots of other irritating anachronisms, such as calling someone a “septic tank” when “cesspit” would have done just as well. Even the title really doesn’t fit. This is not a gospel, it is not any kind of good news; it’s a legend, or more accurately a mythopoeia.

So some pluses for entertainment value and writing skill, but a number of minuses for jarring anachronisms, and I’ll rate it a C+.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

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