The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

The book
The Gospel of Loki is the stories from Norse Mythology told through the eyes of Loki, the Trickster god. It’s basically a run through of all the myths, but told from a different perspective. Loki comes to live with the Aesir, causes trouble and sits around to watch the delightful results.

Since I’m Norwegian I have read and heard Norse myths in school and I knew the stories and myths in this book. Almost surprisingly well. I always liked Loki because I always thought he seemed like fun, and he was ambiguous, so I was excited to read a story told from his perspective, because well, Loki is badass. So I was excited about this.

Sadly this didn’t really impress me very much. Firstly the author changes Loki’s origin. In the original myths Loki is a Jotun/God and lives with the Gods because he is sort of related to them, and he seems to find them fascinating. In this book Loki is not a Jotun, he is a part of Chaos, a sort of non-corporeal entity. He is made corporeal by Odin. I don’t understand why this was done. It didn’t really make Loki’s story any better necessarily. And it wasn’t done for any magical purposes. The “real” Loki can shift form, so making him Chaos didn’t make him any more powerful. It seemed sort of pointless. And the original story is good. Because he sort of straddles the world of good and bad and doesn’t know exactly where he belongs, and how he should interact with the Gods.

It also didn’t change very much. The Norse mythology is basically built up of different stories, and a lot of it isn’t really like a continuous narrative. And this was the same. The individual stories were put in order so it seems like a continuous story. And Loki seems to have different justifications and reasons for doing what he does than what was said in the original stories. It wasn’t done well enough for it to feel like one continuous story. It felt like the book said: and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened. I don’t know if there is a way to write the Norse mythologies into a long story, but this wasn’t the way to do it.

I also found Loki sort of annoying. He knows what he’s doing, he knows why he’s doing the things he does. He knows why he kills Balder, he knows what he’s done to cause Ragnarok, but he acts like he hasn’t done it on purpose, and by the way, it wasn’t his fault anyway. It’s incredibly annoying. Like, take some responsibility Loki, you did this because you enjoy chaos, and because you feel slighted. You know it’s your fault, and you know why you did it. Don’t be a whiny asshole.


Even though there were things that annoyed me it was fun enough. It’s always fun to read the Norse mythologies, and I liked that it used modern language. It made the gods seem like petty teenagers, which is fun. But still. Meh.