Thursday, November 1, 2012

Loki

A while back, I was doing research on Vikings for my next novel, which will be the sequel to Enoch’s Device. In the course of that research, I spent some time on Norse mythology, since many a tenth-century Viking would have clung to the worship of Thor or Odin instead of embracing the Christian faith that was slowly spreading throughout Scandinavia. While I found several good texts on Norse mythology, I jumped at the chance to read Mike Vasich’s 2010 novel, Loki (which I only discovered recently). Loki is a masterful retelling of Norse myths, and my review follows this image of the book’s cover.

Norse mythology comes to life!

Author Mike Vasich brings Norse mythology to life in way that only a gifted storyteller could. The novel slightly reimagines the Norse legends leading up to the apocalyptic battle of Ragnarök, but stays basically faithful to the core mythology. The story is told through the viewpoints of several of the Norse gods, including Tyr, Freyja, Odin, and, of course, Loki, the King of Lies, whose mistreatment and exile by Odin and the other gods motivates him to bring about the Nordic version of the End of Days. In the novel, Odin is known as the Terrible One, a grim and manipulative being that lives up to his nickname. The other gods are also interesting characters – especially the fearsome Thor and the sensual Freyja – as is Loki, who is both a sympathetic character and a murderous villain.

The novel reminded me a bit of some of the great, vintage fantasy tales, like Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné. But Vasich tells his story in a modern and well-written third-person limited point-of-view. The story moves at a quick pace and the battle scenes are masterfully portrayed, being some of the most exciting in the novel. On top of that, the ending is both thought-provoking and satisfying. This is a truly fantastic novel that should appeal to anyone who loves mythology, or simply a really good fantasy tale. I highly recommend it!

Is Odin the antagonist?
One more point: Loki had me thinking about a Wayward Herald post titled Who Needs A Protagonist? (which commented on a great article by Jane Lebak). If Loki is the novel’s protagonist, he is somewhat atypical, being part antihero and part villain. In this respect, he reminded me a lot of the character of Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. There are many more fitting heroes in Loki, however, including Tyr, Heimdall, and Thor, which could suggest that Loki is actually the novel’s antagonist (although, in my view, one-eyed Odin plays that role). Yet Loki’s character is the only one who seems to change by the novel’s end (and who ever said change had to be good?), so at least by many views, he would be the story’s protagonist. But for those who have read Loki, I am curious as to your opinion – is Loki the protagonist or the antagonist of the novel?

4 comments:

Naja Tau said...

Cool! Thanks for reviewing this book; I was curious about it after seeing the cover. :)

Joseph Finley said...

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

V said...

Hey Joseph:
I appreciate the great press! Thanks! As for protagonist vs. antagonist--I vote for pro because the story is centered around him and his actions move the story forward (although Odin's do that as well). But then who is the antagonist? Odin is a good fit for this role, but of course it isn't exactly a perfect fit. Your point about Loki changing is also true, I think, although I hadn't really considered that point before.

Joseph Finley said...

V - thanks for the comment, and for your view on the protagonist/antagonist question! Loki was one of the best books I read in 2012.