17.05.2018 / Gollancz / Fantasy/Mythology / Hardback / 304pp / 978-1473202399
Target Audience: Readers who love Norse Mythology, especially the story of Loki The Trickster God, and modern meets archaic narratives.
About The Testament Of Loki
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 . . .
Joanne M. Harris’ The Testament Of Loki was by far my most anticipated read of 2018. JMH is at the epicentre of modern Norse Mythology re-tellings and, along with my favourite portrayal of The God Of Mischief to date, The Testament Of Loki is by far the best entry in the series so far. This is a direct continuation of the narrative that ended with Ragnarok in The Gospel Of Loki. Written in the first person from Loki’s perspective, we get a front seat to the rich tapestry of all of the nine worlds and the secretive and unpredictable nature of most deceitful god of them all. The story begins with the Trickster God trapped in the Black Fortress of Netherworld and desperate to escape. With the help of his son Jormungand, The World Serpent, and the re-invigorated belief in Norse gods that has appeared in our modern culture Loki manages to escape into Dream and enter a video game embodiment of himself.
Managing to breaking through to the corporeal world via a 17 old girl called Jumps, Loki is desperate to return to his old life of godly power. Being trapped in a human’s body proves problematic and the discovery that other gods (including Odin the All-father himself and Thor the Thunderer) have also made it back complicates events even further but allows Loki to organise a return to Asgard. Loki (Your Humble Narrator) is a god who always has a plan, but working together with Jumps proves more of a challenge due to her human nature. Jumps wants Loki out of her body and agrees to help him find a way back to Asgard and out of her life for good. This was a brilliant marriage of humans and gods, power and reality, chaos and order.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Loki and Jumps, helping each other in their own ways and seeing their personalities, beliefs and abilities bleed into each other. JMH has got their chemistry just right. This version of Loki was already my favourite but having him experience humanity was a development that pleased me greatly. I was amused by a gods interpretation if our modern world. The book of faces, cake, fire-spinning and human love, among many other things, all intoxicate Loki and it was fun to watch him develop a soft spot for Jumps. It is not all peachy, Jumps is a complicated young woman and adjusting to having a god in your head takes time and compromises. I liked Jumps and she was a perfect character for this narrative. Her path in the novel really breaks the chains of her unsecurity and it is invigorating to experience.
The portrayal of each god was also very satisfying (even meathead Thor) and I appreciated how easily JMH manages to capture the essences of each god as well as the endless history between each of them. The second act of the novel deals with Loki’s pursuit of his home, along with his god counter parts, and it brings all the characters to many interesting places with a story where no one can truly trust each other. Makes for a very unpredictable read and I loved it. The narrative as a whole flowed well and kept me glued to the page. JMH takes an abundance of compelling Norse Mythology and infuses it with her own sensational writing style and themes, such as salvation, humanity, body image, bullying, sexuality, modern gods and insecurity.
The breth of her own vision of the material is both the best and the worst thing about this book in my opinion. It is great to see how many references and insights into norse mythology there are here and makes me want to read more into each of the stories . But I feel like The Testament Of Loki could have been longer and included more depth and exploration. JMH hinted a so many enticing norse stories that flashed by in an instant without really being included. I had hoped for slightly more depth across the board but I think that was just wishful thinking on my behalf as a mythology addict. I do think this was an unusual setting for the narrative JMH has created and not entirely where I saw this series going but the execution of this story was spot-on and it worked exceptionally well. Most importantly the imagery and detail are phenomenal and that is what made this novel so readable to me.
If you’re passionate about Norse Mythology then this series is certainly going to please you a lot. I feel that JMH has left enough space for another instalment so finger are crossed. If you haven’t read a Joanne M. Harris mythology novel then you are definitely missing out. There is The Gospel Of Loki, Runemarks, Runelight and now The Testament Of Loki to throw yourself into. Joanne M. Harris is re-writing the script on Norse Mythology re-tellings alongside Neil Gaiman and the brilliant people working on God Of War. Each have their merits but I do believe that JMH’s version is more fun, accessible and entertaining than the rest.
About Joanne M. Harris
Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted CHOCOLAT (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born.