Tag: Joanne Harris

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Posted March 22, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 2 Comments

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. HarrisTitle: The Gospel of Loki (Goodreads)
Author: Joanne Harris
Narrator: Allan Corduner
Published: Hachette, 2014
Pages: 302
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

If you’ve been on the internet (especially Tumblr) in the last few years, chances are that you would know who Loki is. Popularised by Marvel Comics and the recent Thor movies Loki is originally found in Norse mythology. Joanne Harris, best known for novels like Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, tries her hand at fantasy under the name Joanne M. Harris. The Gospel of Loki follows the story of the trickster god, Loki, from his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos to become a Norse god.

“Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.”

Told from the perspective of Loki, The Gospel of Loki starts off in a playful tone as you can see by the above text. This tone continues throughout the novel, keeping a light and entertaining look at the ultimate trickster. Joanne Harris picked a challenging topic to tackle for her first attempt in Fantasy. Trying to get the balance between the Norse mythology and the popular conceptions as told by Marvel would be problematic. I don’t pretend to know much about the mythology and possibly less about the Marvel comics but I think Harris captured the character really well. We can debate whether Marvel follows the mythology or not but what I got in this novel was the mischievous, unreliable, jokester that I expect from Loki.

To play devil’s advocate, I must point to the title of this novel, The Gospel of Loki. The word gospel suggests that this is the unquestionable truth of Loki’s life, a first-hand account of what happened. Loki is an unreliable character and since he is often known as a lying, manipulative, demon-born anti-hero, the only source of truth (or as close as allowed) can only come in first person. My problem would be the modern tone of the whole novel; the mythology was formed hundreds of years ago, so I expected the language to be different. I expected the writing to feel dated, something Fantasy does really well but this novel felt like it was set in current times.

Overall this is an entertaining novel that explores the mythology of Loki in an interesting way. While each chapter seems to be a little story that interconnects with the overall plot, it also gives glimpses into Loki’s character. You get an in-depth look into Loki, learning about his story and life lessons. With such detail into the primary character, it’s a little sad to see that all the other characters were so flat, especially his adoptive brother Thor. Then again, Loki is so narcissistic that going into details about everyone else would feel a fake.

I’m of two minds with this novel, on one hand I think Harris did a great job in giving me a brief (but unofficial) look into the life of Loki. Everything I’ve read of hers I’ve liked and for a fantasy novel, The Gospel of Loki worked really well. Then again, this was a fantasy novel and I often struggle with them, but I think this was far too modern which stopped the story from ringing true. I have to wonder what someone with a detailed knowledge of Loki, the Norse god or Marvel super villain thinks of this book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

Posted August 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayI think I might be addicted to Top Ten Tuesday, I like joining in and having a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels. This was a little tough but decided to divide the list and tell you five worlds I’d like to return to and then five stories I would like see been continued; these are normally characters I really enjoy reading about and wonder what happened to them after the book (I know, I know they ceased to exist).

Five worlds I would love to return to;

  1. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  3. The City & the City by China Miéville
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Five stories that I’d like to see continue;

  1. Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris

Posted June 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne HarrisTitle: Gentlemen & Players (Goodreads)
Author: Joanne Harris
Published: Black Swan, 2005
Pages: 507
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Audere, agere, auferre.
To dare, to strive, to conquer

For generations, privileged young men attended private schools like St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, groomed for greatness and success. But this year the winds have turned, not only are suits, paperwork, and information technology threating to overwhelm the school and break the traditions of this elite school but someone is trying to corrupt and destroy St. Oswalds once and for all; this is a game for Gentlemen and Players.

Nothing like a gentlemen’s game of revenue and murder, Joanne Harris’ novel is astonishing and surprising. I normally associate Joanne Harris with the likes of Chocolat, but when I heard she had written this dark psychological thriller, I had to read it right away. This is a game of idealism verses cynicism, equality verses privilege and principle verses corruption; this is a game of chess. I love how Harris wrote this whole sociopathic revenge novel using the themes of Chess. You have the black pawn moving silently trying to take down the white king.

Roy Straitley is one of the narrators of this story, an unmarried classics master that tells us about life at St. Oswald’s, focusing on the day to day events, with the students and his work colleagues. Most importantly are The New Head (the king and only referred to as the new head even though he has been doing the job for 15 years), Pat Bishop (second master), Jeff Light (games Master), Chris Keane (new English Teacher) and Dianne Dare (also a new teacher in the French department). Straitley doesn’t know it yet but he is considered to be the white knight of this novel and the second narrative; the black pawn keeps their identity hidden till the very end (although if you are a keen chess player you might work it out in this review) and tells the story of early life at St Oswalds and their plans to destroy this school.

I love how Joanne Harris wrote this book with the chess metaphor, but she used a couple of tricks to throw off who might be the sociopath. Not that I really have a problem with it, I had my suspicions of who it might have been and her cheap tricks really threw me off at times. There is some interesting name choices used in the book; like Bishop, and Light sounds a little like Knight, and these were just ways to help build this metaphor.

While the reader will largely focus on working out just who is the person seeking revenge on St. Oswalds, this book also deals with entitlement and elitism. We know from near the start that the black pawn was poor and their father was the janitor so we know that the pawn holds so much hostility towards the rich and elite. So we know that we are dealing with the problem of not fitting in and being excluded. There are also elements of adolescent sexuality, gossip and tradition verse progress that are very clear throughout this book.

This is a wickedly dark thriller that had me gripped from the very start, it had a real serial killer vibe to it when the black pawn took moves to strategically destroy this school and then you have this very proper and traditional account of life in an elite school. Naturally this narrative changes as the white knight slowly starts to understand there is imminent danger at his beloved school.

While really entertaining and tricky, Joanne Harris also reminds us just how much lives depend on trust. This unsettling strategy to slowly plant seeds of doubt and suspicion could be futile. I found Gentlemen and Players to be a smart and witty psychological thriller; I never expected something so bleak to come from someone that wrote something as sweet as Chocolat. I’m reminded a little of The Talented Mr. Ripley when I read through this novel, sometimes I was surprised that Harris was able to outclass and fool me.

Monthly Review – May 2013

Posted May 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

As May comes to a close, like all months, I want to have a quick look at what happened. First of all I managed to get fully up to date with my reviews; a few months ago I was about 20 reviews behind, waiting to be posted. Now when I finish a book the review will go up within a few days (sometimes more) and this frees me up to do other bookish posts. This is so exciting because I really like to write my thoughts about the world of literature without being confined to reviews. Also as you can see we are smack in the middle of being green with envy of everyone attending the Book Expo of America (BEA). I’m participating in Armchair BEA again and this will hopefully mean new blogs and new people to talk to. I’m also currently overseas so I’ve scheduled all these posts, I still have access to internet but I wanted to be free to comment and read instead of writing blog posts.

As for this month, the book club theme was Supernatural and we got to read the classic Victorian Gothic novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. My review went up yesterday and there have been some interesting discussions about the book and its influences in modern pop culture over at Goodreads if you’ve missed it. Next month’s book is going to be a little obscure, something I’ve not heard of; I’m really looking forward to diving into The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.

Last month I was in the middle of a reading slump so I was worried that May would be a terrible month for me but I’m pleased to say the slump didn’t last long. I was able to read heaps of great books including Invitation to a Beheading, Main Street and The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. Interesting enough the highlight of the month was none of those books, but a reread of The Great Gatsby; I just enjoyed returning to that novel and then picking it apart trying to understand it. I would love to know what your highlights of the month were or even what you read this month.

My Monthly Reading