DNF – The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

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Summary:

The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris.

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Why I Did Not Finish:

I knew this book wasn’t working for me when I first started it on June 1st and of this morning was still barely two dozen pages in. Now, to be fair, things had picked up at work and what not, but even so: there was nothing about this book that compelling me to pick it back to, to press on. Still, today I resolved to make real progress. By a third of the way through, I knew this wasn’t for me. By the half-way mark, I was done. Since I did make it further than I normally did, I contemplated posting here, then I had one critical thought which pushed me to giving this a true write up:

I realized I might not have been the right audience for this book.

My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty skin deep. I could name you a few gods, but little else. Still, the concept of the rogue of the tales telling the story sounded appealing. There are two sides to every story, right?

In hindsight, however, I think knowing is going to help your read here. This book, though told as a narrative, isn’t really a narrative. Once the book settles in, it quickly falls into a pattern. Loki mentions his current situation in Asgard (usually relating to how much of an outcast he is/isn’t at the time) followed by Loki talking about how a given event came to be, then how he used his wits to resolve the situation, followed by an update on his situation in Asgard. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a collection of stories only barely linked together by narration. To get the most out of it, I think you would benefit from knowing the other side of the tale, so you have that rounded view. As it is, Loki (naturally) comes off as the hero all the time and I think knowing the both so you can decide for yourself which version was closer to the truth (a narrator like Loki is going to be, by definition, unreliable). As it stands, Loki, the master of the humble brag doesn’t come off as terribly likable or sympathetic and I just found it hard to connect with the character, so I didn’t want to see his journey through.

Aside from a few annoying seemingly anachronistic bit (i.e. Loki saying that at a certain point people were asking for his autograph) the writing of the book is solid and Loki does have a nicely distinct voice. I do think there is a real audience out there for this book and I think they can find a lot to like. As for myself? I just couldn’t get in to it and so I had to DNF it.

On to the next.

P.S. It should go without saying that I’m no judge of how much fidelity to the original stories there is or isn’t. If that kind of thing is important to you, you may want to check out other reviews before picking this up 🙂

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