The wild world of the Norse sagas has resonances with our own times, and few characters from Old Norse are as relevant today as the smart, mercurial Loki. Joanne Harris, the multi-million selling author of Chocolat, discusses her new novel, The Gospel of Loki, with Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough in this BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking programme.
Loki is a shape-shifter, appearing in the Norse stories variously in the form of a salmon, a seal, a fly. His gender is fluid: at one point he becomes a mare, the mother to an eight-legged horse. He plays tricks on people, such as when he appears in disguise and insults the great Thor for no apparent reason. His mischievous antics and slippery nature see him undermine the power of the gods, and he behaves rather like an angsty, unsettled teenager, struggling to find his place and identity in society. His disruptive nature and anti-heroic status perhaps explain his appeal as a popular figure in twenty-first-century Marvel comics, Hollywood films and video games.