Review: “Liesmith” by Alis Franklin

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It can be awkward, being a modern day Heathen reading someone else’s ideas of your Gods. Most of the time the interpretations of my Goddess, Sigyn, are so offensive that I drop the book in a rage and never touch it again. (Touch of Frost, anyone?) And a lot of my own personal beliefs don’t even really match up with some of the popular ones presented by people like Galina Krasskova, so I really should be used to being the weirdo with her own ideas by now.

Initially I overlooked Liesmith because I didn’t want to read yet another novel where Loki has a mortal lover and the book completely ignores his actual wife. However, I stumbled across an interview the author did that talked specifically of Sigyn, and how she thought there was more to Sigyn’s story than what we have.

So, I gave it a shot. And I’m not sorry I did, but… man, it was odd sitting there reading a book that tries its best by your Goddess, but She’s going, “No, I wouldn’t do that.”

I’ll just get this out of the way first: While I do applaud that Sigyn is respected and a main driving force of this novel, at times she came across more as Freyja than she did the Goddess I know. Liesmith‘s Sigyn was much colder, harsher and sharper than Sigyn would ever be. The main point of Sigyn, Goddess of Constancy, is that She’s constant; even in Her grief over Her sons, She doesn’t allow Odin to change who She is. She’s still compassionate, loyal, and gentle. She’s as strong as a mountain. She looks Odin in His eye and defies Him in order to stay by Loki’s side. Her strength isn’t in your face — it’s subtle and easily overlooked.

Hence the other slight issue I had: Sigyn wouldn’t ever go to war or wield a sword. Sorry. There’s a reason She chose a bowl to protect Loki with instead of a weapon. While this makes sense in the context of the story, it still rankled me a lot, because there’s an irritating habit people have of thinking Sigyn can’t be awesome in Her own way. They have to give Her a sword and have Her murder people in order to be badass.

There are other discrepancies in my own personal beliefs compared to the story Liesmith presents us, but honestly, they’re not important. While Sigyn is most certainly not a mortal that was turned into a goddess by Loki, I appreciate how narratively, that particular storyline came together in conclusion with Sigmund and Lain’s.

And really, it was wonderful to read a story that focuses on two un-stereotyped gay men who fall in love with each other and then have to deal with the world possibly ending. Added to that is the fact that Sigmund is black, overweight, and a huge nerd — in other words a real human — and it gets even better.

Though I will say that I expected more of an emotional introspection on his part when the big reveals happen. It feels like he kind of skims the surface of what it means, but the big questions aren’t asked and he doesn’t have any kind of worry over it, save for a brief moment. Still, I really enjoyed Sigmund as a character, even if it feels at times that he doesn’t really grow past who he was in the beginning.

His relationship with Lain was cute too, enough that I could ignore my own personal issues with Loki being in a relationship with someone other than Sigyn.

But I found the ending rather confusing, even though I understand more or less what happened. It was a mad rush of action and there wasn’t a following moment where things quieted down and the reader could make sense of what happened. I’m still not entirely sure about who or what Lain is, when I think I should.

Still, I enjoyed Liesmith, enough to possibly look into the next book. It gave enough respect to Sigyn that I can forgive Franklin’s differing portrayal of Her. It really means so much to me that an author finally gave this to me.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Miranda works at a library and can often be seen stalking through the shelves. She lives in a house full of cats and books in the suburbanland of Oklahoma.

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