Thursday, 14 January 2016

Norse Mythology Week - Marvel-Loki has nothing on Runemarks-Loki. Just saying.

 For day four of Norse Mythology week, we have reviews of all three of Joanne Harris' Runemarks books.

(Warning for unpopular opinions ahead. Seriously. If I catch any flamers in the comments, I'll set them on fire.)

...You mean we'll respectfully ignore their comment, right Ivy?

(Something like that...)
Runemarks - 4/5 Stars

"I speak as I must and cannot be silent." - Mimir the Wise. Constantly.

This is it. The book that introduced me to the nonsensical world of Norse mythology. 

Maddy Smith is a teenage girl who has grown up an outcast in her own hometown thanks to a strange birthmark on her hand. She has one friend, One-Eye, who occasionally passes through. One day, One-Eye sends her into Red Horse Hill to search for something, and our story begins...

 Runemarks is a story of twisting plotlines, vibrant settings and humorous dialogue, but the characters blow all of those things out of the water. The Gods are all absolutely hilarious, and Maddy is an awesome heroine. She's pragmatic and quick-witted enough to go toe to toe with Loki who is, essentially, the hero...or is he? Either way, Loki is the stand-out star of the novel. He's sarcastic, utterly hilarious, and cannot catch a break. 
Just to give you an idea of his awesomeness...
“You seem to know a lot about it," she said. "And you do subtleties."
"Yeah. Like I've always wanted to destroy the Nine Worlds while committing suicide."
If you love complex world-building, hilarious characters, and plotlines that spin you around and around until you're stumbling around in embarrassed confusion, then you need this book in your life. - 3/5

"Nothing dreamed is ever lost and nothing lost forever."

This book broke my heart, because I wanted to love it.

Don't get me wrong, I liked it. I just...

Let's start of with the positives. First off, LOKI. Sorry Thor fans, you may think that Marvel has the best incarnation of Loki, but that honour actually belongs to Joanne Harris. And then there's Maddy, who's gotten even awesomer over the time skip. There was plenty of both of them, but not enough of them together. Maddy is Loki's only friend (mainly because he's had neither the time nor the inclination to betray her yet), and I like the dynamic they have going. But I wanted more of it. A lot more of it. This book also introduced Perth, who essentially took up Loki's role from Runemarks since this book was effectively split into three plotlines. You had Maddy's plot, Loki's plot, and Maggie the newcomer's plot.

Unfortunately, Maggie was my main problem. She was brought up in World's End, which appears to be rather sexist, and we're told several times that she values purity/modesty/other stereotypically female virtues. All of this so far is fine, and I was actually impressed at how different she was to Maddy...on paper. You see, I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but she'd kind of turned into Maddy by the middle. This annoyed me. And then there's her entire relationship with Adam. Now I can't vent all my grievances here (because spoilers) so I'll just say that it happened too fast and that I didn't see a parallel between how we're told Maggie will act and how she does act. I can see the attraction of course - she's been completely alone for three years and then, suddenly, there's Adam. But still. Something about it just didn't work for me.

Still, the three plotlines tie together nicely at the end of the novel, and it's better than Maddy or Loki getting pushed into the background to make room for Maggie. I still have my fingers crossed for a third one.

And yes, I was fabulous." - He was. 

The Gospel of Loki is a prequel to the above two books. A prequel written entirely in the voice of Loki. 


When I saw that this was coming out, I expressed my feelings to my family in the most controlled way possible.

(She ran downstairs and screamed the news at them.)

...Self-control is overrated, anyway. 

This is basically Norse mythology told from Loki's point of view. Most of the myths are accurate to the eddas and other sources, though there's obviously a bit of artistic license here and there to fit in with the Runemarks universe. It takes us from Loki's arrival at Asgard all the way to Ragnarok, giving us some serious character development along the way. It's weird (according to both my brother and my old book club), but that's mythology for you. Weirdness is par for the course. More to the point, it's absolutely hilarious and, at times, strangely philosophical.
Observe -

 “There's also a lot of random stuff about poetry, flowers and lute music, plus kissing and cuddling (lots of this), wearing similar outfits, talking incessantly about the current object of devotion, and generally losing one's faculties.” - Loki on love
 "God of peace. Yeah, right. Known as Balder the fair. Handsome, sporty, popular. Sound a little smug to you? Yes, I thought so too." - Loki on Balder
 “A man often meets his destiny running to avoid it.” - Norse mythology in a nutshell

Oh, and one more bonus quote for Cait -

 “Most problems can be solved through cake.” - Loki gives the best life advice.

All quotes taken from Runemarks, Runelights and The Gospel of Loki are copyright to Joanne Harris and co. 

Have you read any of these books? Got any recommendations for me based on them? Leave them in the comments.