Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard- The Sword of Summer: Riordan's Third Series Has a Great Start
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
So a long time ago I read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and I loved it. It felt like an action oriented Harry Potter which is what I always wanted. I ended up reading the whole series which was great, and after that I read the author’s next series, The Kane Chronicles which I did not love as much. And when I saw diminishing returns from the author, I moved on. But then Amazon Kindle put all of the author’s books from a new series on sale, and I thought I would buy the bundle and dive back in and see if he got any better. The first book in the series is Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.
The book begins with a sixteen year old boy who is in a bad situation. As a child his mother moved him from place to place for his own safety but the one day a pack of mystical wolves kills is mother. He goes on the run and decides to hide among the homeless so the wolves don’t find him.
At this point story picks up after he had lived among the homeless for a while. But he makes contact with an estranged uncle who tells him he’s a son of a Asgardian god and convinces him to retrieve a sword. All does not well though as a fire giant arrives and kills Magnus. Magnus wakes up in Valhalla. It is an afterlife for heroes. a place he shouldn’t be, but Valhalla is stuck with him despite the fact they don’t like it.
But something is not right. He finds he’s part of a prophecy to decide the fate of the world. Many in Valhalla believe he is to free a wolf to destroy the world, but Magnus believes he is meant to kill a giant who intends to set the wolf free. His former homeless friends, who are revealed to be an elf and dwarf, help him escape Valhalla. They journey through the nine worlds to stop the giant from freeing the wolf.
Now onto the good and bad? Well first of all, let’s start with the characters. One of the main issue with the Kane Chronicles, was that the characters seemed somewhat recycled from Percy Jackson despite a focus on the leads having mixed race heritage. But in this book Riordan tried to make the characters different and diverse with more depth. Magnus is an older teenager and not so much a kid. He has some real baggage as well. The elf Hearthstone is not a teenage but a full grown adult who is an outcast of his kind because he is deaf. He is not perfect. The dwarf Blitzen is also an adult and loves fashion. The book never says it straight, but it is insinuated these two may be a gay couple. Then lastly there is Sam as ex Valkyrie who is a Muslim American girl who is struggling to live by her family traditions along with her involvement with the Nordic gods. The mythology is fun as well. As this book took a different approach as it is revealed Magnus is the son of a lesser Nordic god. Unlike Percy Jackson or the Kane siblings who wield powers of Poseidon, Horus and Isis, Magnus is the son of a nature god of well being. He is not all powerful. He is somewhat of a runt as far as demigods go and that makes things much more interesting because he isn't powerful.. As the story plays fast and loose with the prophecy story line. Its recited from many perspectives that the characters are unsure if Magnus is doing the right thing or not and Magnus is constantly questioning it himself. It’s a great spin on the prophecy cliche that makes the reader wonder if he’s going to end the world or not.
The bad? One thing that I found strange was that even though Magnus is sixteen, he often acts like he’s twelve. It seem out of place. He should have been more mature. There were some cartoony elements, but not overly so. The mythology I felt was not all that explained. I think I only knew what I knew about Nordic gods from the God of War and Hellblade video games. If I didn’t get those primers, I’m not sure I would know this world at all. Also Riordan likes to modernize things, but sometimes it takes away from the magic. For example, Valhalla is portrayed as a massive luxury hotel. I wish it was just a little more magical.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. It’s not as perfect as Percy Jackson, but not as messy and flawed as the Kane Chronicles either. It’s a lot of great fun and it does make me regret not returning to read Riordan for so long. It’s agreat read and I recommend it.
Overall Rating: Riordan Third Series Has a Great Start
3 ½ out of four smoothies.