Loki: the trickster god, mother and father of lies, has had enough of the “authorised version” of the story of the nine worlds, or “the prophecy” as told by Odin via the Oracle. He knows he has a bad reputation, and feels the Allfather has compounded this. So this is his narrative which he has named Lokabrenna, the tale of the gods of Asgard told from Loki’s point of view.
Through this story we see a different side to the myths. Loki starts his gospel with the story of the creation of the nine worlds, moving onto the war between the two tribes of the Vanir and the Aesir. The survivors of this war go onto become the gods of Asgard, their power coming from their individual runes. Loki himself is a child of chaos, wildfire incarnate and tricked from his home in pandemonium by Odin, who promises to treat him like a brother. On arriving at Asgard, Loki finds himself to be an outsider, never really trusted by the gods who he sees as stupid, dull and self obsessed. They treat him badly, so Loki plays tricks on them in revenge.
I have to admit I’m not very familiar with the Norse myths. Most of my knowledge has come from “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman or the Marvel characters, but this book is perfect for a novice. All Loki’s stories are actual myths and made me want to learn more about Asgard and Norse mythology, I spent a lot of time on Google. Harris herself is an expert in Norse mythology and can even speak Old Icelandic. The depth of her knowledge is clear without ever overshadowing the story itself. But even if you are no stranger to the myths, it offers a unique perspective. Loki is an excellent narrator. He is witty, charming, flawed but not afraid to admit his mistakes. There is a hint of sadness underneath it all though. The perpetual outcast, bullied by the other gods who is never able to find his place in the worlds. His main advice to the reader is never trust anyone, especially not an Oracle.
This was a book I listened to rather than read. It is narrated excellently by Allan Corduner who captures the essence of Loki. I was swept along by the story, laughing to myself a few times whilst walking to work. People gave me a wide berth that day! One problem with the audiobook is that there is a large number of characters. The list of important people at the beginning of the book is valuable for anyone reading it, but not easy to refer back to when listening instead.
I think this will be a book I return to again and again, dipping into individual stories. It has also provided me with a springboard from which to learn more about the lives of the Norse Gods which I am very grateful for.