We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

We’re going to take a short break from dinosaurs today to help celebrate a different book. The Songweaver’s Vow is by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. You should recognise her name by now (and not just because it stands out LoL) because I’m a pretty big fan of hers and have been lucky enough to work with her on several occasions. On this occasion she wants to talk about Loki. I’ve been reading a lot about Loki (in particular because I just finished putting together Equus and Loki has that whole ‘turned into a horse’ thing goin’ on), but also because c’mon! It’s Loki!

 

We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Loki is kind of a big deal.

From Diana Wynne Jones’ Eight Days of Luke to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to Marvel’s Avengers films and comic Agent of Asgard, Loki has captured the modern imagination like no other Norse figure. And yes, Thor, sorry, but I’m including you in that. You may be Marvel’s nominal hero, but do you have your own imagine-pr0n Tumblrs? (Okay, you know what, you probably do, because Tumblr. Let’s just move on.)

Because Loki has been so popularly reimagined, however, it can be hard to get an authentic take on him. Even when he is the villain, he usually ends up something of an anti-hero, or at least a sympathetic and attractive villain. (See the Marvel cinematic universe for Exhibit A.)

A playwright friend who adapted Treasure Island for the stage commented to me on how difficult it was to “translate,” because the original audience viewed the pirates as villains while today’s audience (influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) views the pirates as the heroes. That’s much the same thing here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Tom Hiddleston too! but this is not that Loki.

In the source material, Loki is not an anti-hero. He is a – what’s this blog rated? – he’s a turdblossom.

A Force of Destruction

1280px-Loki_taunts_BragiThough Loki is often canonically found in Asgard, he’s not a god. The word Jötunn is often translated “giant,” but that’s not terribly accurate; Loki and his kind are actually “devourers.” They are destroyers. They are the chaos to counter the order of Asgard.

And so all the crazy antics for which we know Loki best are not merely amusing tales – turning into a female horse and getting pregnant by a stallion, tethering a goat to his testicles, insulting all the gods and their guests in order – but a deliberate overturning of everything the original audience would have held as honorable and just and comprehensible. And Loki isn’t doing it to make a point, not seeking social justice or questioning social norms, he’s doing it because it’s his nature to tear down and it is fun – even when it has dire personal consequences.

I never planned for this book to give Loki a major role, because so many Norse-based stories are Loki-centric. But in the end, he had more to do with it all than I’d intended, because the one thing you can count on from Loki is that he will do whatever is least intended and most inconvenient.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish – sort of – when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.

The Songweaver’s Vow released Tuesday, February 21, and is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold.

 

Elemental-5252-webLaura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .

 

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