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The Testament of Loki


The Testament of Loki

Loki has had a huge resurgence in the past 10 years or so, which is mainly attributable to his depiction in a number of Marvel films. Many, like myself, were first introduced to him in Marvel comics where the half-god/half-demon was both the son of Odin and half-brother of Thor, the God of Thunder. Loki had the moniker “God of Mischief” given to him --- and it suits him well.

Author Joanne M. Harris stretches far from her usual top-rate, drama-infused fiction to pen not one but two books featuring Loki. You don’t need to have read THE GOSPEL OF LOKI before diving into this sequel, though it would help. In the first volume, readers were introduced to the Lokabrenna, or Gospel of Loki --- a retelling of Norse mythology and the gods of Asgard from Loki's point of view. Rather than having mere chapters, the Gospel of Loki had lessons to carve out each new section. Loki felt it was time to tell the true story of the ancient gods, recognizing that much of humanity on Earth followed a religion based solely on passed-down stories and words.

"THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI is a wild ride that repays all who spent countless hours in Ancient Lit or History classes learning about Norse mythology by retelling it via the vessel of the modern world."

There is reference throughout Loki's Gospel of the World Serpent, or Jörmungandr. This symbol, one that is still used in Celtic myth, depicts a giant snake or serpent swallowing its own tail. It is also used as the letter “O” in Loki on the front covers of Harris' two books. It was said that when the World Serpent releases its tail, Ragnarok will begin. Fans of the Thor films will recognize that term as representing the End of All Things. In fact, I have a hard time reading these novels without hearing Tom Hiddleston's Loki voice in my head as the narrator. The number nine is significant in Norse mythology as it represents both the nine worlds, which include Earth, and the fact that on the ninth day everybody died. That is where Loki's Gospel ended.

Which brings us to the current novel, THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI. I found this to be a better and far more ingenious read as Harris utilizes all that was spelled out in THE GOSPEL OF LOKI and infuses it with modern society. The most impressive plot twist here is that the Norse gods are all dead, yet are able to possess human form by way of a video game called Asgard. To make things even more absurd, our far-from-humble narrator finds himself co-inhabiting the body of a 17-year-old British girl who goes by the nickname “Jumps.”

The constant struggle and culture shock moments that take place between Loki and Jumps are both brilliant and hysterical. I kept imagining the movie this story would make, watching Mr. Hiddleston take on the mannerisms of a modern teenage girl fused with the God of Mischief. To make things even more interesting, Loki turns out to be far from the only god of Asgard who has found an Earthly host. His father, Odin, is in possession of the body of a highly sarcastic and cynical young wheelchair-bound man named Evan. Evan's personality called to mind the quote by Maya Angelou: “There is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”

Odin/Evan is able to get Loki's buy-in to work together and towards getting free from their young host bodies. Odin also makes Loki aware that certain other denizens of Asgard are around and will stop at nothing to maintain Chaos and keep Asgard from re-forming. Ironically, Loki's half-brother, Thor, is in the body of a fluffy little dog. Loki has all he can do to use his wiles to convince Jumps to follow him on his new mission. It turns out to be an easy sell when a young friend of Jumps, Margaret “Meg,” is taken hostage by a young woman named Heidi, who is possessed by Gullveig-Heid. She is a renowned Sorceress and a nasty, vengeful spirit who is more than happy to rain on Loki and Odin's master plan.

Gullveig-Heid seeks Mimir's Head --- the Oracle and prophet from Asgard --- as he may hold the key to the Runes of the New Script. These Runes are shown throughout the novel as symbols that Loki decodes for Jumps. Thus begins an adventure as fun as it is unpredictable. All of this leads to the opportunity for Loki's rebirth, and the ending may very well provide the return to innocence he seeks.

THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI is a wild ride that repays all who spent countless hours in Ancient Lit or History classes learning about Norse mythology by retelling it via the vessel of the modern world. The end result is a work of speculative fiction that will both thrill and amuse readers worldwide.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 25, 2018

The Testament of Loki
by Joanne Harris

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Saga Press
  • ISBN-10: 1481449508
  • ISBN-13: 9781481449502