The Gospel of LokiBook - 2014
New York :, Saga Press,, 2015.
From the critics
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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.
"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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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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