Review: The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas (2013)

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In Commissaire Adamsberg Fred Vargas has created one of my favourite detectives. There is something about his unorthodox methods and his obsessions which makes him endearing. It helps that Vargas has injected his squad with plenty of their own idiosyncrasies such as having an unending stock of food hidden away, being an unstoppable impossible force (you’ll have to read to find out what this means) and a detective who often speaks in verse. You also get to see the bonds strengthen with his newly discovered teenage son – who has changed a lot since we first met him.

But it’s Adamsberg who everything centres around which makes it a wonderful, if sometimes confusing, read.

This time his reputation attracts a mother from Normandy, well away from his jurisdiction, whose child has seen a vision of the ghost riders and since the middle ages their appearance has signalled a grisly end to murderers, rapists and those with serious crimes on their conscious. The mother is worried that people will die and impresses how much she needs the help that only  Adamsberg can provide.

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec marks Adamsberg’s seventh appearance and there is no sign that Vargas is tiring. She gives three cases for her detective to solve; the affect of the rider’s  appearance; a lad who may have falsely accused of torching a car with the driver still inside; and  the cruelty to a pigeon. Through these cases you see Adamsberg’s methods and his team in different lights. Most strongly felt is the camaraderie and loyalty he brings out in all those involved.

Vargas is one of those writers you need to trust and as mentioned in my review of An Uncertain Place I went through the same feelings with that one as I did with this.  Vargas is very skilled at placing obscure and seemingly unrelated details down in the first section of her novels though this does make it feel very foggy and slippery. The problem with this technique is that if it wasn’t for Adamsberg (or from reading her previous work) you might not feel you have a guide you can trust.

But then suddenly the fog clears and you can see the path and know that Vargas has been you leading you quite a merry dance. That’s not to say that you’re being tricked because Adamsberg is as much in the dark as you are as a reader and it feels that you are both finding out together. Though Adamsberg’s clockwork is hidden so you don’t known everything he does but you can still hear the explanatory ticks.

Siân Reynolds deserves a special mention for doing the translation work and making the whole thing flow. I always used to worry that that a translation would mean clunky and second-rate prose but Reynolds (as have other translators of other works) has made it feel seamless.

In conclusion, unlike many other detectives, Adamsberg’s compassion for those involved makes this serious alone a good read but when you see how clever Vargas is of putting unseen information in plain sight it becomes compelling. I’m yet to come away from her novels without feeling I’ve ‘won’ something. I  really hope you we get another.

Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher (2014)

Skin Game

If you thought The Dresden Files was starting to lose its way then reading Skin Game will prove you wrong.  Harry Dresden’s  latest case is a tough one: he has to break into the highest security vault in town under orders from his new boss, The Winter Queen, and to do so he has to work with a previous villain who’s previously tried to kill.

It’s the fifteenth book in this series so if you’re never heard of Harry Dresden or read one of his cases this is not a good place to start and if you’ve not read Changes, Ghost Story or Cold Days go catch up first as those are fundamental to seeing how Jim Butcher has altered the game which is being played out as part of the bigger picture.

It has been a bit of a rough transition as Dresden and Butcher work best when solving a case, which is exactly what Skin Game is all about, but the last few books have been dealing with a climax of a story arc and its aftermath and in doing so lost that familiar feeling. Luckily, here the bigger picture takes a back seat.

Since Changes there has been a void in Chicago, a Dresden-shaped one, and rather than protecting those close to him his absence has confused and hurt them. And Butcher addresses some of those relationship issues as a fundamental part of the plot, which shows that Butcher has grabbed hold of Harry and given him a good shake.

It was definitely needed as Harry isn’t good on his own. And so much is put to right’s here. It feels like ‘classic’ Harry is back. The heist formula adds focus and allows Butcher to play games with the reader leading to a clever and satisfying climax.

Everything that makes Dresden is here. The tricks of fairies, the Christian themes, the problems, the damsels, the manipulation and the ‘big bang’ ending.  If you love Harry you’ll love this. Though if you don’t like the ‘Dresden’ view of the world this won’t change anything.

Let’s go back to the damsels. A criticism of this series is the view that Harry Dresden has of women, especially his male gaze. That is still here and in some way it’s enhanced by the new power has from Winter. He is what he is. That isn’t to say that all the female characters are sexualised but there is a strong testosterone smell in the air.

Is that damaging? As I said at the start over fourteen books have established the characters, their personalities and their dynamics. It would be impossible to drastically alter this without making those changes feel false. And, this isn’t excusing anything but Harry has always been portrayed as a night with a weakness for wanting to save damsels in distress.

There is a glimmer of hope of fatherhood and  family with  its  inherent responsibilities, which I hope will give another aspect of Harry for Butcher to explore.

I guess the representation is ‘traditional’. It’s not progressive. I’m not sure it’s derogatory (your milage may vary). But I’d like to see less objectification certainly.

As I was reading I couldn’t put it down. The heist has a tight window and that adds tension to the whole thing. It’s a constraint that works perfectly. Butcher, as I’ve said, still manages character development by having Harry’s ego humbled with conversions with old friends, especially welcome is seeing Michael make a much needed return.

Harry Dresden’s place as the leading Urban Fantasy Detective remains. Butcher has a plan. Harry is back on form. And for a Dresden book this is practically perfect. I can’t wait to read what happens next year.

Midnight Crossroad Blog Tour: Charlaine Harris Answers Three Questions

I’m very pleased to be the MIDNIGHT stop on Charlaine Harris’s Midnight Crossing Blog Tour:

Why do you think the clock ticking midnight is such a magical event?

That’s not my fantasy. I think the crossroads itself is magical. Crossroads have so many traditions; criminals were executed at crossroads, suicides were buried there, shrines erected there. So many layers of experience and emotion.

Has the world of Midnight, the town, been brewing for a while or did it come to you in a flash?

It started with the crossroad, and then came the pawnshop, and then the other elements of the world started forming, and the people came then.

If you had the chance to visit Midnight where would you visit?

Oh, I’d go to the pawnshop and spend a long time there looking at all the spooky stuff! I’d eat at t he diner, and then go see Fiji’s new age emporium and talk to her. Maybe I’d get my nails done by Chuy Villegas!

Thanks Charlaine for popping over and you can read my review of the pleasurable and enjoyable Midnight Crossroads here

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Review: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris (2014)

Midnight Crossroad

There is something comforting about Charlaine Harris’s writing style and that bleeds through into her characters. My first exposure to Harris was her Sookie Stackhouse short stories from A Touch of Dead  and then the first two Aurora Teagarden novels. The reason I mention this is that Midnight Crossroad mixes Harris-the-mystery-writer and Harris-the-urban-fantasy-writer.

Reading the Aurora Teagarden books you wouldn’t think that there are any supernatural elements in the world and reading Sookie Stackhouse you’d think their presence was quite normal so I wasn’t sure which way Midnight Crossroads was going to go.

You don’t have to get more the than the preliminarily pages to know that this one is going to have a strong supernatural thread as Harris gives a mini-introduction into four of her main characters: Manfred an internet psychic (also minor character from her Harper Connelly Series), Fiji an owner of a magic shop with powers of her own, Bobo a pawn shop owner and Olivia who catches a lot of flights.

Told in the third-person we get to spend time with several of cast and get to know all the major and minor characters enough to feel their lives are real though, because the people in Midnight all tend to have their secrets, a lot of who they were before moving to Midnight remains a bit of a mystery. However, that doesn’t stop Harris feeding us with tidbits of what may come later.

And knowing that Harris has chosen to bring characters from her other series into Midnight (I spotted a Lily Bard namecheck (does that mean Bobo is a Lily Bard character?)) compelled me order all her other series (Stookie Stackhouse, Lily Bard and Harper Connelly) in an very bad moment of bookish OCD because I love authors who explore their worlds in different ways (it’s one reason I love Asher’s Polity). It’s another reason I need to crack on and read the second book of the Kings’s Dark Tower but I digress.

Unlike other reviews I’ve read I don’t want to say whose body is found but that moment turns this into a mystery and it doesn’t happen until we’ve established our feet under the table with a most of Midnight’s residents. From that moment on Harris picks up the pace though still remaining calming in her style does some quite brutal things which means I can’t label it as a ‘cosy crime’ story.

I admit to getting a little uncomfortable with the nature of the ‘big bad’ here and I think that it’s going to to appear again as the series progresses but Harris handles a real world-concern well and it is needed to shatter the cosy bubble Midnight could become without it.

Harris makes the sense of community a priority and having Manfred with the outsider eyes and outside questions makes a good conduit for the reader. He’s likeable, in fact everyone is likeable in some way even the scary characters (both those in the community and the ‘big bad’). It does take a little while to settle (fifty pages or so) as we get to know some of the characters but we have a scene at the local restaurant, this brings most of the main characters together, and sets up most of the dynamics, which Harris then cements quite rapidly.

Overall, Harris succeeds in bringing her comforting style, her love of the supernatural together with her skills as a mystery writer to make a Midnight Crossroad into a pleasurable and enjoyable read. You have characters you’d like to spend time with and care about but you are also dying to know what other secrets they are hiding. I can’t honestly wait for my my next visit to Midnight.

Audio Review: The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan (2011)

The Cold Commands

It’s worth pointing out that an audio book gives a different feel to book, so really I’m reviewing Richard Morgan’s writing and Simon Vance’s performance of it, and it is a performance, Vance gives each ‘voice’ a different inflection to bring them to life. And I’m praying that he’ll be asked to read The Dark Defiles  as I’m really not sure what I’d do if he didn’t [luckily he is]. From that you must know that I’m invested in the lives Ringil Eskiath, Egar the Dragonbane, and Archeth Indamaninarmal and their fate.

And fate there is as by the end The Cold Commands sets our characters in places they wouldn’t have expected to be in at the beginning, which made the last quarter or so quite a surprise, and had me scrambling to find two hours listening over 24hrs to finish it.

At the the start it’s not clear where you are going. This does require an act of faith to push through as it feels like Morgan knows you already know and love these characters and will follow them regardless of where they end up but he doesn’t really give a sense of direction.

To be fair the characters aren’t sure what they should be doing either and each of them is eventually pushed or pulled into some sort of action – Ringil is freeing slaves, Egar is bored and does a bit of breaking and entering which gets him into more trouble that he could possibly imagine and Archeth is sent to retrieve a helmsmen, who brings with him promise of her again meeting her people.

The Cold Commands does several things that make it ‘different’ or at least outside the ‘norm’ and reading Brit Mandelo’s tor.com review reminds me that a few of them really should be highlighted.

The sequence is called ‘A Land Fit for Heroes’ but who are our heroes? Ringil is probably the most surprising being not only gay but also a gay man whose intimate relationships with two minor characters are supportive rather than destructive,which is unlike The Steel Remains where the close relationship is destructive for him and the wider world and it comes back to haunt events here.  Archeth is struggling with restraint over her own desires and whether a slave girl is an expectable release. And finally, Egar’s own intimate relationship causes danger to all three though it is also a linchpin in strengthening the relationships between them.

I love The Cold Commands for that alone as there is no neon signposting. The sexuality and the problems that brings feels like an extension of the characters and I’m glad that Ringil’s relationships especially don’t ‘punish’ him.

Not that this novel a romance, it has another side shown in some dark and brutal moments. There is a rape scene, which is  rightly disturbing, and its inclusion shows a lot about the world in which everything takes place and is also telling about the characters involved and how they react.

There are a lot of soul searching moments, especially Ringil’s as he transverses the Grey Places, but each of the trio gets focus and attention, and for a middle book in a trilogy it goes deeper and further than just  treading water until the next book’s third act big finale.

Morgan likes to linger on the fights and the sexual scenes, often giving a blow-by-blow account, which I guess makes this ‘gritty’ or ‘dark’ and not for squeamish or prudish. Though I do think it’s important  that it never feels gratuitous; the fights especially have consequences. And often war ‘heroes’ are glorified by others, which are quickly earthed by Egar’s and Ringil’s putdowns.

There is also a turning of the tide here. We see the struggles that the ruler Jhiral Khimran II has in keeping power and how he keeps blocking the damn against the religious furore of the Citadel. I quite like him as character because of who he is and why he does what he does. He has a charm that comes from his scenes with Archeth and even though she’s a lot older than him he often feels much wiser. Though he s brutal and unflinching as well (and here Vance’s performance plays a strong role).

Speaking of Archeth, even she isn’t safe from Morgan’s callus hands. Outside influences extend to even her. But I’ll leave it as that to avoid unneeded signposting or spoiler inducing.

As I said at the beginning, it’s not clear at the start what to expect and I don’t want to flag those moments too much as their revelation makes you rethink a lot of earlier moments and makes a reread or re-listen in my gave something to look forward to.  But I will say that by the end Morgan has prepared the ground for something big. And the point where you hear ‘the cold commands’ will make a shiver run down your spine.

The Cold Commands uses traditional fantasy tropes and stretches those conventions to cover places they normally don’t reach. The main characters should be hard to like but they have plenty to hook your sympathies and understanding especially as their hearts are in the right place as storms gather around them. Honestly The Dark Defiles can’t come fast enough, though at last report it’s 50% bigger than this one and pays of debt due, but I’m nervous about how much Morgan is going to tear into the hearts of our characters.

Vance, as always, does a startling performance, and it always makes me chuckle that the dwenda sound welsh. His portrayal of Jihral especially sets the right tone and the helmsmen sound alien and disturbing. I could honestly listen to him read the phone book. Though with The Dark Defiles being half as long again I hope his voice holds out.

SFR: The Eyes Have It by Randall Garrett (1964)

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Title:  The Eyes Have It
Author: Randall Garrett
Source: Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett  (Fantasy Masterworks )

This short story can be summed up as a classical-feeling detective story set in an alternative reality with a magical twist. It welcomes you to a world where the Plantagenet kings survived, where the laws of magic were discover and physical sciences where never pursued. Not that we’re fed all that in one go. Instead we’re thrown in the deep end.

We start, as these things do, with the discovery of a body, which unfolds into an analysis of the relationships between the main suspects. We are also introduced to Lord Darcy and his forensic sorcerer, Master Sean O’Lochlainn, though Lord Darcy is definitely the boss.

It feels very grande. The characters and setting are social elite and Garrett seems to revel in the setting and the characters. The alternative reality feels natural and the use of magic, being licensed by the Church, is a nice twist – especially the pseudo-science-method of explanation.

As a piece of fantasy it is evocative and as detective fiction Garrett makes it work very well. I think the setting and the characters are more interesting than the murder itself, though it has its moments.

As an introduction I’m intrigued and I’m keen to see what direction it goes in next. This collection has nine other short stories and a novel so I’m going to have the chance to find out.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (2012)

Days of Blood and Starlight

There is no way of getting around it. This is a love story. You see, once upon a time an angel and a devil fell in love and imagined a new way of living and so far that dream has caused both of them nothing but pain. At least that was how Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended and in Days of Blood and Starlight that feeling continues.

Not so strangely in the US this is released through Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and I’d place it, if labels are important to you, in that YA category. Though saying that if you’ve read the first book then you’ll know what to expect and the labelling will be irrelevant.

Please though don’t let the YA/love-story elements  put you off the idea of reading it but read Daughter of Smoke and Bone first. Laini Taylor is telling a big story through the relationship of Karou, currently almost human, who is trapped into rebuilding an army (by placing saved souls in newly formed bodies) and Akiva, an angel, who along with the rest his kind, has the sole mission of destroying Karou’s race.

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone there was a stalemate of opposing armies (Angels vs Chimera) with neither side gaining ground which was then shattered and we deal with the aftermath here. Laini Taylor isolates her two main characters and shows the conflict from their opposing sides but they both have their own internal conflicts, not only in their personal relationships, but the role they play in the war.

And for a story which has two heavy threads Taylor has a light touch with both giving you enough of each to keep you wanting to know more rather than wanting to stick with one or other. Saying that though the plotting and the conveniences in events aren’t so smooth. But somehow that doesn’t matter because if you’ve made it this far and become reinvested in their plight you’re happy to follow along even wishing some scenes would end before anything too horrible happens (Taylor on the whole doesn’t pull back on those).

I like Taylor’s take on angels being the more horrible of the two and that the ‘beasts’ are mostly defending themselves though that view is harder to stomach with some the events now gathering little sympathy in their retaliation .

But each time we see Karou and Akiva representing a different way. It’s not a spoiler to say that things get worse and not better throughout Days of Blood and Starlight and part of me missed the sense of fun that was strong element in the first book, mostly it is missing because Karou doesn’t spend time with her friends, though the scenes where they do make an appearance brings back that lightness before again being swallowed up again by the dark.

 

Overall, rather than turning sickly sweet Laini Taylor takes us to a darker place than the original in this sequel but at the same time giving hopes that everything is not doomed just before raising the stakes at the last minute.

Luckily Dreams of Gods and Monsters is out in a few days so I don’t have long to wait to see how it all ends.

Review: The Mystery of a Butchers Shop by Gladys Mitchell (1930)

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When Rupert Sethleigh’s body is found one morning, laid out in the village butcher shop but minus its head, the inhabitants of Wandles Parva aren’t particularly upset. Sethleigh was a blackmailing moneylender and when the peerless detective and renowned psycholanalyst Mrs Bradley begins her investigation she finds no shortage of suspects. It soon transpires that most of the village seem to have been wandering about Manor Woods, home of the mysterious druidic stone on which Sethleigh’s blood is found splashed, on the night he was murdered, but can she eliminate the red herrings and catch the real killer?

Gladys Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley is a wondrous creation. She’s gnarled, rich and wickedly humoured. She’s also interfering. These qualities makes her a perfect candidate of a detective. And like Christie or Doyle Mitchell was quite prolific.

To give you an idea Vintage have already published 13 books featuring this devilish detective and and this month are going to be releasing 20 more (4 normal paperbacks with 16 as print on demand and all are available as ebooks). They’ve been coming out quite sporadically up until now with Vintage choosing their favourites before filling in some gaps.

This is to explain why I’m now reading Mrs Bradley’s second appearance (my next read is the first  the series Speedy Death) but from the ones I’ve read so far it doesn’t seem to matter what order you read them in as Mrs Bradley doesn’t have any development but is more a mechanism to let the other characters kill each other and then nose around until she finds the murderer.

I read this one in two parts. The first half I read last year (around Halloween) but I picked it back up a few days ago and devoured the rest. Partly what I struggled with in the first half is the habit Mitchell has of dropping you into a scene with lots of dialogue but not grounding you in the scene by having the characters give some context to the scene.

It’s not something I struggled with from reading her other books and I think Mitchell got lots of  opportunities to practice her technique. But maybe it was me as well as I was much more comfortable with the cast of characters and what was being described when I picked it up again. Maybe it just took some time to get up to speed? As for the murder itself as it says in the blurb it looks quite simple but pinning it down takes Mrs Bradley some time.

The cast of characters here is entertaining with their personalities all quite different. Mitchell is great at exploring motivations and giving them layers of problems and interest so that no character feels like a cardboard walk-on. And when I got to the end I was annoyed in a good way as Mitchell manages to keeps you on your toes. Mrs Bradley is no goody two-shoes and the ending proves it.

As a book which is 84 years old you may think it would have dated but it doesn’t really. It doesn’t have modern obsessions with gore, flawed detectives, and its glamour is understated rather than gaudy. It feels classical if that makes sense.

I honestly can’t wait to see where Mitchell places Mrs Bradley next.

Review: The Line of Polity by Neal Asher (2003)

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Neal Asher has to be one of my favourite authors, notice I didn’t say SF authors (why add an unneeded label), but I’ve been reading his Polity series in a bit of an odd order.

Here is the internal chronological order:

  1. Prador Moon
  2. The Shadow of the Scorpion
  3. Gridlinked
  4. The Line of Polity
  5. Brass Man
  6. Polity Agent
  7. Line War
  8. The Technician
  9. The Skinner
  10. The Voyage of the Sable Keech
  11. Orbus
  12. Hilldiggers

Plus a collection of Polity-focused short stories

The Gabble and Other Stories

And here is the order I’ve read them in so far:

  1. The Gabble and Other Stories 
  2. Prador Moon
  3. The Shadow of the Scorpion
  4. The Skinner (audiobook)
  5. The Voyage of the Sable Keech (audiobook)
  6. Hilldiggers
  7. Orbus (audiobook)
  8. The Technician
  9. Gridlinked
  10. The Line of Polity

The reason that I mention my reading history is that I’ve already seen the aftermath of some of the events in The Line of Polity from reading The Technician but probably not realised their significance. The same can probably said of Agent Cormac as The Shadow of the Scorpion explores the Cormac as he’s manipulated (or should I say shaped) into Agent Cormac.

I’m not unhappy with my reading order though as The Skinner, The Voyage of Sable Keech and Orbus make up their own trilogy and Hilldiggers and The Technician are stand-alones. And The Gabble is a great introduction and if you like short stories they really hooked me into flavour of the Polity.

What it has done is make me want to re-read The Technician again, in fact I want to re-read all Neal’s Polity books. There is something about the continual exploration/evolution/enjoyment of Asher’s Polity that makes it fascinating to read – though also makes me read his books slowly (when I’m not listening to the audiobooks) so I can digest everything.

The plots themselves, like The Line of Polity, are pacy, and the details that are absorbing. And in this one we have Agent Cormac again called on to deal with the alien known as Dragon (though not the same aspect as found in Gridlinked) at the same time as the planet Masada is going through a slow rebellion in the hope that the Polity will intervene.

Neal weaves three main threads, which really start off as the two mentioned above, before Cormac underestimates the skills and knowledge of a biophysicist called Skellor who brings a whole new danger with him.

What I like about Asher’s stories is that he has a passion for biology and uses that to inject new variations of life on to the worlds he presents. This time we have deadly creatures, who have said mostly away from the human inhabitants of Masada until chaos unfolds drawing their attention.

He also shows a love of technology and layers different levels of advancements with the Theoracy having low worn out tech, there is an outline station, Miranda, that is old by Polity standards but above Theocracy, and then we have Dragon whose is able to construct creatures with advanced DNA and then we have what Skellor initiates.

The level of thought and details always makes Asher, for me, slow reading as the plot wants to zip but I want to enjoy the ideas and the settings. It’s quite a skill I think to give you a pacy plot that you want to slow down so you can take everything in.

The current paperback is 660 pages and towards the end you come to realise that it’s not going to be a neat ending. And that the next one, Brass Man, has to pick up certain bits left behind, as does The Line of Polity in some respects.

The danger of intertextual conversions is that the author cannibalises their own ideas so much they end up as skin and bones, but from experience of the Splatterjay trilogy Asher digs deeper, which is why I said earlier that I really want to get round to rereading but first I think I need to catch up with the canon.

One thing I haven’t really mentioned is there is an underlying anger with religion (or so it seems to me) as the echelons of the Theocracy literally live above the people that prepress in the name of God and are deluded that their belief their faith will one day make the Polity crumble.

Asher cover a lot. Highly recommended for SF fans who like explosions, technology, biology, and knowing that the author is a fun.

Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris (2014)

gospel-of-loki.jpgJoanne Harris, of Chocolate fame (which you knew already, right?), has written her first adult fantasy novel, which introduces us to the life of the world’s most infamous trickster, Loki.

I know what you’re thinking and it starts with H cough Hiddleston cough and as great as the on-screen version of Loki is Harrison recounts of life with the Gods of Asgard as if you were having a drink with him in a pub, which is something you’d never get from Hollywood.

And what a tale it is. Odin calls forth Loki and is bound to him as a brother (yes BROTHER) and takes him to Asgard though Loki never quite fits in. But the Father of Lies isn’t EVIL as such he’s just misunderstood plus it’s in his nature to be disruptive.

Harris sets the tone at the start with Loki’s slightly snarky though charming introduction of the cast of characters we’re going to encounter before interrupting the recounting of the ‘authorised’ version of events of told by ‘The Prophecy of the Oracle’ (her (very loose) verse translation of Voluspá) before moving on to the main event and telling us all the lessons he’s learnt from his life as the Bringer of Light.

It’s a big task for Harris to introduce readers to a whole pantheon of characters who may be unfamiliar when compared to the likes of Loki, Thor and Odin but she manages it with ease. And then manages to recount Asgard’s entire history without it feeling like a stale history lesson. Quite to opposite.

Loki is a silver-tongued storyteller as each mini-tale (or lesson as he frames them) builds and builds revealing more and more of the Loki’s nature and his motivations but also sets out the tests and trials that Odin has him endure for the good of Asgard.

He does bring a fair bit of it on himself but you are left wondering how much of what happens is the gods’ own self-fulling prophecy and how different it would have been if they’d just built him a hall of his own treated him as one their own instead of a constant scapegoat?

I dare you not to fall for his charms and feel sorry for him by the time this tale is done. Though you may not agree with what he ends up doing especially when you how lovely his wife.

There are some amazing set pieces, which I’ve been very tempted to research and compare but you know I’m just going to enjoy the ‘reality’ The Gospel of Loki for a little bit longer.

It’s hard to convey in this review how enjoyable Loki is but hopefully a bit of his ‘wisdom’ via his lessons will give you an idea:

Love is boring. People in love even more so …

&

Friendship is overrated. Who needs friendship when you can have the certitudes of hostility. You know where you stand with an enemy. You know he won’t betray you. It’s the ones who claim to be your friends that you to beware of.

&, finally

Never Trust a wise man to do the work of a felon.

And on that note I’ll wrap up. Harris’ Loki has redeemed what has started off as a bit of a shaky reading year with an epic tale of Gods, demons, and the end of the world. I couldn’t be happier or more enthralled by The Gospel of Loki and his bringing of Ragnarök to the gods of Asgard.