book reviews, spoiler free

The Testament of Loki

35077202The Testament of Loki by Joanne Harris

Published: May 17th 2018 by Gollancz

Rating: XXXX

“I’m Loki, son of Laufey and I always have a plan.”

Ragnarok was the End of Worlds.

Asgard fell, centuries ago, and the old gods have been defeated. Some are dead, while others have been consigned to eternal torment in the netherworld – among them, the legendary trickster, Loki. A god who betrayed every side and still lost everything, who has lain forgotten as time passed and the world of humans moved on to new beliefs, new idol and new deities . . .

But now mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone’s throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.

The first, but not the only one to. Other, darker, things have escaped with him, who seek to destroy everything that he covets. If he is to reclaim what has been lost, Loki will need allies, a plan, and plenty of tricks . . .

Loki is back! The Testament of Loki by Joanne Harris is out today in all it’s Norse glory!  was lucky enough to receive a digital advance copy from Gollancz via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was super excited to also pick up my signed finished copy a day in advance as well! I love the style of the cover art so much and it looks great next to my copy of Gospel, I can’t wait to receive my preorder bonus pin as well.

The Testament of Loki is a sequel to The Gospel of Loki and are a part of the Runemarks universe, I haven’t read the Runemarks books yet but still enjoyed Gospel immensely and to be honest you don’t necessarily have to have read even that to enjoy Testament because it recaps most of, if not all of the important information. That said, The Gospel of Loki is pretty good (My spoiler free review can be read here) and it does help set the tone for some of the characters so if you get the chance I recommend it.

This sequel does have a very different feel to its predesscor however, in Gospel your humble narrator often tells you how it’s all going to end and it feels very much like a story being told whereas in Testament it feels more in the moment. There is also the fact that Gospel is set mainly in Asgard and features heavily on the interactions between the different gods but now The Trickster is stranded in the world of the folk, our world and he’s about to discover pizza.

The first three-quarters of this book is great fun, a little silly and almost deep at times in its own way. Loki still has the great voice Harris brought him to life with in the first book and this is a whole new level and a glimmer of a slightly different (but not too much) side to our beloved red-haired, silver-tongued devil. I love the way Loki interacts with Jumps, his relationship with the other people in her life and his perspective on the way many of us live today, seeing our insecurities through his eyes was quite enlightening. We get to see a f/f relationship from a (I believe) bisexual character and we get a bit of a glimpse into another character suffering from a chronic pain disorder who is often confined to a wheelchair without making a huge deal of any of these things outside of the story. Just a warning there is a scene involving self harm, it didn’t trigger me personally but I was made away before hand and prepared for it so I feel it’s right to pass this on to my readers as well. I honestly think this aspect of Loki was my favourite parts of the story and I would have quite happily had a whole series of this side of things.

Sadly I felt again a few of the characters, bar perhaps Meg (in addition to Loki and Jumps) were a little flat and a bit lacking in the fleshing out department out but I like to think this is such Loki thing to do, he’s so self-absorbed and doesn’t have time for hardly anyone else. I found other than Loki and Jumps I didn’t give much of a hoot about anyone else.

I will say that although I enjoyed Testament a few things let it down for me, hence the XXXX rating and not XXXXX but I will say the good for me outweighed the bad by far but a few things still niggled me. There is a fair bit of repetitiveness and perhaps its to make sure things make sense and because things get a little twisty but after a little while it started to bug me and I could feel myself rolling my eyes every time it happened. Somehow though my other problem was that for the last quarter of the book I was pretty confused. I got the jist of things and understood most of the story but things would get skimmed over and then sometimes we found of what was said or happened later or sometimes we wouldn’t. This is quite possibly just a problem I’ll encounter because I often have a terrible attention span and I might not have been taking things in properly but towards the end I kept feeling like the final exam was here but I’d skipped a few classes. That being said it was enjoyable over all and I hope/wonder if there will be more. I’d certainly like to see more and I believe that the (I’m not quite sure on because it felt a bit weird) ending has been left in a way that we can have more of my favourite Norse god. (Yes please).

So happy release day to The Testament of Loki! Did you pick up this book today or will you be checking it out in the future? Let me know and until next time!

Jemma.

jemma setterington

book reviews, Older books, spoiler free

The Gospel of Loki

18665033The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Published: February 20th 2014 by Gollancz

Rating: XXXX

“The urge to destroy was all I had left. They tell you revenge isn’t worth it. I say there’s nothing finer.”

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.

I was a bit late to the party with The Gospel of Loki and it wasn’t until I had heard about its sequel “The Testament of Loki” that I realised it existed. I had seen Runemarks about and have been interested but mention Loki and I’m in so here we are. I have an advanced copy of the sequel as well which is out in less than a week now so figured it would be a good time to get this one read.

This is a strange book in a way that the ending is really no surprise and there weren’t any shock twists or turns really and that makes sense when you’re retelling Norse Mythology because it’s been told over and over before. The difference with The Gospel of Loki however is that not only is it told from Loki’s point of view and thus subject to some differences of opinion from the  more well-known version but it also has an injection of humour and a kind of nostalgia that was both a good,different way of telling the story but also at times made it feel like a prequel (which technically it is!) It’s still interesting and funny and it probably helped that I don’t know a great deal about Norse mythology as some of the differences seem to have annoyed other readers but I’ve also always been good at separating fictional worlds. I can enjoy (mostly) book to film adaptations even if they aren’t perfect because I can easily separate them in my mind. I think once you distance yourself from a rigid comparison between the “lore” and this fantasy retelling this book can be enjoyed a lot more.

Loki is such a fun narrator and perhaps one of my favourite unreliable narrators. I always enjoy reminding myself that this is Loki’s telling of the lore and may not in fact be entirely honest because he would absolutely make himself the centre of drama and play the victim whenever he could conceivably manage it. I still totally fall for it and end up feeling sorry for him anyway. The other characters do all feel a bit shallow and 2D in comparison a fair bit of the time but I think that’s all a part of having an unreliable narrator such as The Trickster himself and lends to the theory that he isn’t being entirely truthful in his retelling.

Overall I really enjoyed The Gospel of Loki, at just over 300 pages it’s not an incredible long read and the length suits the type of story and the way it’s told, I think anything more would have possibly been too much. Although I don’t find anything essentially wrong with it (and like I said it is a great book) I’ve given Gospel a XXXX rating just because it didn’t make me feel too majorly invested other than feeling sorry for Loki occasionally. I still highly recommend checking it out if you can.

This book has made me want to try out the other Runemarks books for sure ,you don’t need to have read any of the others to understand this book either and it works well as a standalone. That being said, Loki himself in this book says “My story needed a sequel. Preferably a sequel in which I rose from the dead, regained my glam, saved the worlds, rebuilt Asgard and was generally welcomed by all as a hero and a conqueror” and a years later he finally has his wish. The Testament of Loki is out May 17th and let me tell you it was worth the wait and my review for it will be up soon!

Jemma.

jemma setterington