I normally do not like fantasy or even retelling of ancient myths: even when the writing is good, it’s difficult to be fresh and entertaining, let alone original. But it is the case to say here that Alis Franklin with Liesmith has managed to do both. And the results are there for everybody to see.
If I had to define the tone of the book with only one quote, I would choose this one: “As Lain says, only fools mess with the Wyrd. Why? Because the Wyrd messes back.” And that’s the start of all troubles (and the thrill).
The description on the book cover makes it clearer: “Working in low-level IT support for a company that’s the toast of the tech world, Sigmund Sussman finds himself content, if not particularly inspired. As compensation for telling people to restart their computer a few times a day, Sigmund earns enough disposable income to gorge on comics and has plenty of free time to devote to his gaming group. Then in walks the new guy with the unpronounceable last name who immediately becomes IT’s most popular team member. Lain Laufeyjarson is charming and good-looking, with a story for any occasion; shy, awkward Sigmund is none of those things, which is why he finds it odd when Lain flirts with him. But Lain seems cool, even if he’s a little different—though Sigmund never suspects just how different he could be. After all, who would expect a Norse god to be doing server reboots? As Sigmund gets to know his mysterious new boyfriend, fate—in the form of an ancient force known as the Wyrd—begins to reveal the threads that weave their lives together.”
There are a few good aspects in Liesmith, that will make it a great reading even to the ones who are not necessarily Loki-lovers (I am, incidentally. Why Loki? If you are not a Loki-fan, you will figure it out pretty soon. Say, after the first chapter. If you are, you already know why. Nomen omen est). The writing is one – I really liked pacing and style. And some of the scenes are great, an authentic page-tuner. What I found working not so well is instead the revisitation of the Norse myths themselves: if you’re not familiar with the original ones, you might find yourself confused and with the nagging feeling you’re losing something somewhere along the line (you are indeed – Franklin’s Loki is closer to the original Loki than to world-famous Tom Hiddleston’s Loki of the Marvel Movies). But you keep at it, nonetheless, and at the end you’re happy to have done so.
Liesmith, together with being a debut novel, it’s also the first instalment of The Wyrd series. I haven’t checked it out yet, but the reading of the first book made me more than willing to keep reading.
For more about Alis Franklin, see her webpage and read excerpts of her novels.
(Where I got it: Netgalley, as ARC from the publisher, Random House – thank you).