The Testament of Loki Book Review
By John Andreula
The Testament of Loki by Joanne Harris was a spectacular read. It is an excellent fantasy fiction book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It aptly blends traditional Norse mythology with our modern times. This makes for a unique tale that kept me wanting to know what was coming next, and what was next did not disappoint from beginning to end.
The Testament of Loki is Joanne Harris’s second book about the titular god of mischief. I was not familiar with the author or the book before bringing it home. Joanne Harris is best known for penning the book Chocolat. I had seen the 2000 Hollywood movie, but I did not realize this when grabbing this book off the shelf at my local public library. This was certainly a case of judging a book by its cover. The packaging caught my eye and the back cover synopsis sold me. I decided to give it a read.
The first book in Harris’s Loki series is called The Gospel of Loki. That one is about the rise and fall of Asgard and its Norse gods. I have not read it. I did not feel it was necessary or integral for enjoying or understanding this, the second book.
I consumed The Testament of Loki via audio-book. The unabridged epic was narrated by English actor Allan Corduner. His British accent makes for a believable Loki character. He does a good job with Thor’s Norse accent and the other Asgardians as well, but his portrayal of teenage girls is a bit of a stretch. This, though, did not take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.
The story starts with Loki stuck in a prison of sorts in the afterlife. He is imprisoned after his actions and betrayal lead to Ragnarok, or the fall of Asgard. Loki uses his guile to coerce his son, the world serpent, to break him out of jail, and subsequently the afterlife. Upon escape, they somehow end up inside a role playing computer game called Asgard.
Loki meets his old frenemy, Thor, inside of the game iteration of Asgard. Loki quickly, albeit accidentally, discovers how to escape from the game and enter the real world of modern time. He jumps into the body of a teenage pubescent girl, ironically named Jumps. Much of the book is spent with the two of them learning to share Jumps’s body and to coexist amicably. This does not come simply or easily to either of them.
Loki discovers some other old friends from his Asgard days in the real world. Like him, they have found ways to co-inhabit the bodies of Jumps’s schoolmates. There is a cosmologically fateful reason for them all ending up in the same town, but I do not want to spoil the story. Regardless of how it unfolds, it makes for Harris to be able to weave the story together seamlessly.
The author playfully shows how out of touch Loki is with our modern times through his reference to the game as “Asgard TM.” He obviously has no comprehension of the modern concept of trademarking. How would he, being that he is from another world and another time? It was a nice touch though.
Harris does this again later when having Loki refer to photographic memories of others as the “book of faces” after discovering Facebook within his host’s mind. It was funny to ponder someone who had never seen social media in modernity and how their mind would process it.
Aside from Norse mythology, The Testament of Loki touches on a whole host of issues that affect modern teenagers and young adults. The book deals with bullying, suicide attempts, eating disorders, and sexuality, as well as relationships with parents, teachers, and friends.
It all sounds very MARVEL Comics at first, but even MARVEL gets their inspiration somewhere. After forcing my mind to distance itself from my imagining the characters as Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Anthony Hopkins, I was able to fully buy into the story.
I originally picked up the book because I thought the video game was going to play a much more central role in the story, but it’s only a meager portion of the tale’s entirety. Aside from the game, the settings span the corporeal world, dreams, and some strange places in between.
I think the story is a bit more deep, intelligent, and personal than a typical teen fiction or young adult book. I believe fully enjoying The Testament of Loki requires a high level of intelligence, maturity, and imagination.
That said, it is a great book. I give it five stars and recommend it to any fan of fantasy, science fiction, or mythology. Imagination and letting go are paramount for getting into The Testament of Loki, and it is definitely worth the ride.
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