My acting teacher once told my class “we live in a period in which is fashionable to acclaim the villain”. I believe that is true, since it started with Wicked several years ago (Years already? Good god) we have seen various examples such as Breaking bad, the internet musical Twisted or the upcoming Malefic movie starring Angeline Jolie (soon there will be a movie about the hunter who kills bambi’s mom. A poor, unfortunate soul who just wants to feed his ten children and make them coats. Let’s see how you feel about hating him now).

Now, in modern times, there is definitely one Villain/antihero who is raising above all others, and that is Loki. The Gospel of Loki has nothing to do with the watered down marvel version of the Trickster god; this is the real thing, the Nordic god straight out of the pages of Nordic mythology, as savage and merciless as the original one.

GoL

Strong points: writing style, Loki, narrative twists.

Weak points: story development.

The Gospel of Loki, written by Joanne M. Harris, is a retelling of the Nordic mythology, specifically of the events that led to Ragnarok, from the point of view of Loki, the Trickster God. From the consolidation of Odin as the King of the gods to the arrival of Chaos, going through Loki’s recruitment, his adoption as Odin’s brother and the breach between them, the story unfolds towards its tragic ending as the father of lies offers us his version of what really happened.

If I had to choose only one quality that made this book worth reading I would have a really hard time, but I would probably end up deciding it is the writing style. The work that Ms. Harris has produced can only be graded as astonishing. Following a first person narrative format the writer has managed to embody the character in such a way that it is absolutely believable that Loki is telling the story himself. Sometimes I feel that most of the time an author chooses to use first person narrative, he or she tends to “drop character” when it comes to provide description of events or explanations, producing then two narrative voices in one character (the “personal” one and the information provider). The Gospel of Loki manages an impressive feat: every little detail, every character, every action is presented from Loki’s point of view the whole time, producing a captivating universe full of subjectivism which manages to entrap the reader.

Loki himself is a rich and charismatic character full of lights and shadows who captivates the reader almost from the very first page. This is not a tale of how a good but misunderstood person is pushed by his peers to commit unethical actions in order to change the world for the better, as it happens in Wicked or Twisted. Loki isn’t particularly good or ethical; he is presented to us as a chaotic character, moved by his passions, his narcissism and his selfishness, effectively dodging all possible clichés and bringing us a fresh character full of mysteries and possibilities, surprising us at every step and keeping the audience on guard.

It has been a long time since I could put surprising story twists as a strong point in a book review, but this book manages a series of breath taking twists which leave the reader gasping for air. There is something wonderful on being surprised by a story nowadays and Ms. Harris manages it perfectly with her unique narrative skills.

Sadly the novel has a major weak point: a chaotic story development makes it difficult to understand what is happening. It feels as if the author couldn’t decide what events set Loki on movement, so every time the gods of Asgard turn against him Loki seems to decide for the very first time to betray them. This complicates the character development because every time Loki seems to take a step backward and then another one forward, which results in a lack of differences between pre-event Loki and post-event Loki. This results in over-repetition, which can be quite irritating and quite confusing.

Despite its disorganized development, The Gospel of Loki is a good book which will provide the reader with hours of enjoyment and a narrative to remember. I would recommend this novel to any person who enjoys a good fantasy book or who is interested in Nordic mythology. If you give it a try it won’t disappoint you.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

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