Jul 24, 2019

Loki: On Tricksters and Gods

by Clarence Haynes

Otherland’s second Mythic Fiction Book Club discussion is this Friday, July 26th, 19.30 at the Otherland Bookshop. We’ll be focusing on the 2014 novelThe Gospel of Loki by well-known British author Joanne M. Harris. Gospel of Loki is part of the author’s "Rune" series of releases, with a titular character known by many as the trickster god of Norse mythology. Harris chronicles various tales spun from traditional myth all via Loki’s perspective, who wholly owns his status as a shapeshifting deity of mischief and deceit, albeit feeling misunderstood at times by his godly cohorts. 

For more background details about Harris’ take on Loki, folks can visit her website: http://www.joanne-harris.co.uk/books/the-gospel-of-loki/

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films will know Loki as thunder god Thor’s adopted brother and archnemesis. Loki first appeared as a contemporary Marvel Comics character in Journey Into Mystery #85 and over the decades has appeared in countless series, usually as a villainous character but at times adopting a more heroic role at least temporarily if Asgard, the city of the gods, faces a major conflict. Though in Marvel comics history Loki is revealed to be the son of a frost giant chief, Harris’ Loki is positioned as a child of Chaos who opts to retain godly form after forging a deal with Odin, the “Allfather” of the gods. Loki had a prominent role in the recent 2019 comic mini-series War of the Realms; those seeking a classic, critically acclaimed depiction of the god can check out artist/writer Walt Simonson’s run on the Thor comic series in the 1980s. For another take on Loki and his origins, one can also review Neil Gaiman’s 2017 release Norse Mythology.

We hope you’ll join us for a fun talk about Joanne M. Harris’ Gospel of Loki on July 26 at Otherland. For those who are interested, here are some questions to help frame the discussion.
Please note that slight SPOILERS can be found in the questions below.
Thank you for reading.

1. Loki refers to the leader of the Norse gods, Odin, as a brother of sorts. Considering the circumstances of their first meeting and later history, do you believe this designation is appropriate?

2. In terms of mystical powers, the gods often utilize various runes to extraordinary effect. What type of rune is most appealing to you in the book? What type of rune would you enjoy utilizing in your own life?

3. How reliable would you say Loki is as narrator? Do you feel as a character that he makes himself sufficiently vulnerable to engender trust and a sense of authenticity? How did you feel reading a book from the perspective of one who is generally seen as villainous? How does his POV affect your own take on the gods?

4. Harris has her characters utilize modern language at times in the rendering of ancient tales. How did this feel to you? In what ways did this work in contrast to more traditional/formal language?

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