Thunder, Blood & Goats
By Lyra Wolf
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Mythology Retelling
QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes
QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes
Main Character of Color: Yes
Bechdel Test: Pass
Summary: Loki, new to Asgard and looking to prove he deserves to be there, is on a quest to slay a dragon. Should be easy enough for someone as gifted with stealth and blades as Loki. There are a few problems, however. The first is Thor, who insists on not missing out on a chance to battle a dragon. The second is a young elf woman, Elénaril, who doesn’t have many nice things to say about the Aesir. A series of unusual circumstances lead Odin to decide that Elénaril will be a perfect addition to Valhalla. Loki is torn between his newly found friendship with Elénaril and his desire to find his place in Asgard.
Let’s Get A Little Deep:
It is absolutely not news to anyone that I am in love with Lyra Wolf’s The Nine World Chronicles. I was so excited to read Thunder, Blood & Goats which is a short novella taking place before the events of Truth and Other Lies. I was hoping for some laughs and some insight into Loki before Sigyn and the events that changed his life. I ended up adoring it far more than I had anticipated! A short, 100 pages novella manages to rip my heart out and sew it back together only to be reminded that it will be ripped out again one novel later.
Loki just wants to prove himself. He knows the other Aesir don’t think he belongs, don’t like that Odin has let him in, and certainly don’t like that Loki shares Odin’s bed more often than Odin’s wife. Slaying a dragon should do the trick. Too bad that’s not going to work out between Thor’s desire to rush in and Elénaril, the elf who steps in just as they are starting to fight a dragon. As it turns out, Elénaril is brave with a tough work ethic and fighting skills that catch the eye of Odin. Loki attempts to change Odin’s mind, to let Elénaril return home to her family. But Odin is convinced there is only one course of action: lead Elénaril to the dragon and let it kill her in battle, that way ensuring her spirit goes to Valhalla.
One of the reasons I love Wolf’s interpretation of Loki is how incredibly complicated he is. Loki is aware that the other gods do not trust him. Despite trying, he can never seem to be anything but a source of ire to them. To everyone except Odin, that is. Loki loves Odin, feels loved by him, and would do anything to make sure that relationship stays solid. But when Odin asks him to make sure Elénaril dies, he hesitates. On the one hand, her death would make sure the Aesir find him useful. On the other, Elénaril has become a friend. He knows what it’s like not to have choices, knows what it means to be trapped somewhere you don’t belong.
This morally complex Loki is made all the more heartbreaking with the knowledge of Ragnarok and Loki’s own destiny. It is heartbreaking to see how deeply Loki loves Odin while the reader knows that Odin is keeping secrets. We, the readers, can see how Odin is making moves on the battlefield of the future, but Loki sees only the man he loves. Sure, he questions Odin’s motives, he is unsure why he is so focused on building an army, but he never really believes that Odin is acting against him.
As complicated as Loki is, it is equally interesting for readers to see Odin’s actions here, to know that he has his agenda while also seeing the devotion he has, or seems to have, to Loki. This push and pull of conflicts, of desires, is what makes this novella hit right in the gut. We can scream into the pages, but we cannot change what is coming. Loki and Odin can try, one knowing and one unknowing, to stop what will happen. But happen it will.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lyra Wolf is a master craftsman. This is a great introduction to the series and even better for those already familiar with Truth & Other Lies. It is out now in digital and physical format, and I highly recommend picking up a copy! It’s perfect for finishing those last second reading goals or starting off the new year right!
Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love Thunder Blood & Goats? Leave a comment telling me your problematic fave in mythology. You can also find me on Instagram @booked.with.grace and on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@ynbushehri) for editing my posts.