Beautiful Fall Arcs in Truth & Other Lies

Review:

Truth & Other Lies

By Lyra Wolf

Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Mythology Retelling

QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes

QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes

Main Character of Color: No

Bechdel Test: Yes

Summary: An enemy is encroaching on the gates of Asgard. Everyone knows, but no one is talking about it. Or rather, no one is talking about it with Loki. Whispered conversations stop when he enters a room, more strange looks are being hurled his way than ever before, and everyone refuses to explain themselves. Loki needs to know what is going on; how else can he protect Asgard and Odin, Loki’s blood-brother and former lover? Odin insists nothing is wrong and, to prove it, takes Loki on a trip to Midgard for a celebration among the humans. There, Loki meets Sigyn and, unknowingly, begins the end of his peaceful life. Ragnarok is coming; can Loki stop it? Does he even want to?

Let’s Get A Little Deep:

I used to wonder what it was about the villains of the stories that I always empathized with. I grew up on 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons like the Batman animated series, where Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn were my favorite and the X-Men series where I adored Gambit and sympathized with Magneto. The first comic subscription I ever had was for a Catwoman comic. I, as an adult, understand my obsession with some of these characters. Of course a queer Jewish person understood Magneto. Of course I thought Poison Ivy had every right to punish executives who were ruining the planet. It certainly didn’t hurt that a lot of my favorite bad guys were queer-coded. Even as an adult, more often than I’d like to admit, I am on the side of the bad guy, assuming the bad guy isn’t some sort of Nazi (fantasy Nazis and space Nazis included). While I always hoped these villains might somehow be redeemed, become good, or at least be seen as the heros, I admit I cannot help but love a good fall arc. I love when villains go absolutely feral, when they finally realize playing by the rules isn’t going to get them what they want. I love the moment when, their world having crumbled around them, the villain finally accepts their role in the story.

Truth & Other Lies is the story of Loki’s descent into his role as the villain, the one who brings Ragnarok into the world. When the story begins, we see Loki as desperate to save Asgard from a threat he is both increasingly becoming aware of via strange visions and horrible headaches,  and also as someone hidden in the shadows as everyone in Asgard seeks to keep information on Ragnarok away from him. Odin, in an attempt to distract Loki from these headaches and visions, takes him to a festival in Midgard. There, Loki meets Sigyn and, despite Odin’s warnings against it, begins a love affair with her. What he doesn’t know is that Sigyn represents the biggest threat to Asgard they have ever known, that she will be the one to signal the beginning of the end.

Throughout the book, Loki keeps insisting he has no interest in anything but protecting Asgard and Odin. But the reader has been given a glimpse into the future. The prologue of Truth & Other Lies shows us Loki in a church in modern-day Midgard. We see him announce his intention to end the world, to watch it all burn, to kill everyone. The rest of the novel is Loki explaining to the reader why he has had such a drastic change of heart. Readers know this is a fall arc, we know that in the end Loki will have betrayed the gods and taken up the cause of Ragnarok.

Does this at all make the reader unsympathetic to Loki or betray the sense of foreboding throughout the book? Not at all! I found myself reading quickly because although I knew what was coming, I could not look away. Like a horrible tragedy, the reader is sucked into the story of it, unable to stop it but unable to put the book down. This is entirely possible because Wolf makes the characters interesting. It is hard to humanize gods. Afterall, gods are archetypes, more metaphor than anything else. But Wolf manages to do more with them even within a magic system that centers around archetypes. Everyone, even the gods, are made up of more than just the sum of their parts.

Which is why it hurts so much to watch Loki try so hard to stop the inevitable. We want him to succeed, we want him to find a way to save himself and everything he loves. Yet we know before the book even begins that he will fail. Still, we root for him, aware that he is the villain in everyone else’s story. We cannot help ourselves when Wolf makes him so human.

Ultimately, this book both relies on traditional fall arc tropes and manages to subvert them in surprising twists. It is captivating to read, the sort of book that had me completely enraptured and craving more of that world. Luckily for me, there is already one sequel out and another on the way. If you love yourself a solid villain, the kind who would burn the world down for you, this is the book for you.

Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love Truth & Other Lies? Leave a comment telling me your favorite villain. You can also find me on Instagram @booked.with.grace and on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@ynbushehri) for editing my posts.

2 thoughts on “Beautiful Fall Arcs in Truth & Other Lies

  1. Pingback: Booked With Grace

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