The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris
Loki- ‘Your Humble Narrator…Not the most popular guy around’.
Joanne Harris rarely disappoints. It is her mastery of suspense and spell binding characters that usually inspires page turning to find out how the web can possibly be unravelled.
Loki welcomes us to the book and he is a very wry and sarcastic character. He doesn’t take himself seriously and so neither should we. This won’t be a dramatic or emotional journey, we will be joining him on his various romps and schemes. He sets the book up as the antidote to all the pomp and grandeur of the poems and stories about the gods and that the story he tells us is what really happens in as much as you can trust the Father of Lies. He justifies his actions since it is his nature and we are made to feel that he will deserve his eventual fate. We are encouraged to know that he will be an unreliable narrator and that he feels very hard done by. The story is that of dissatisfaction and the destruction wrought by a campaign of revenge. As the famous saying goes ‘the man set on revenge should always dig two graves’.
The novel is set up as three books with each chapter a ‘Lesson’ with a quote to accompany it to set the expectation for the story line. Each Lesson is a short story which follows on chronologically from the next jumping from event to event as Loki carries out his plots which, while successful at the time, he reminds us lead to his eventual demise.
The story is entirely from Loki’s point of view however because it is a series of short stories the other characters remain rather two dimensional. It is unclear whether this is because the story is only about Loki or because he is detached from these people and who they are is unimportant to him unless they are directly serving his interests. He uses and abuses people in a detached and uncaring way as one would expect from him and he amuses, shocks and bemuses the reader in equal measure. It was this area that sometimes made it difficult to connect to the book as one never really connects to any of the characters. However one could question if this is important as Loki himself is not concerned with connecting to anyone so perhaps neither should we.
Each Lesson is a good yarn and very entertaining. It is a good read from the point of view of following Loki through his various misadventures. It is not a book where one follows the characters evolution and development in the way of the Chocolat trilogy or other novels by Joanne Harris but it is an entertaining read that keeps moving along and you do end up hoping that Loki will come through despite that fact that he leaves so much carnage in his wake. Containing all the glamours and cantrips that are always such a key part of the Joanne Harris plots, this is a fun book, a light yet dramatic trip through the Nine Worlds. One watches Loki on his self-indulgent road with the ambivalence of the gods looking down on earth knowing before he does where his decisions will take him but joining in with his pride in his success and his acceptance of all the consequences.
GS Rating: 4/5
GS Blogger: The Aviator