The Sword of Summer, book one of the new series by Rick Riordan, was just released. Woooo!
16 year old Magnus Chase has had an interesting life. Raised by a single mom in Boston, he spent his first 14 years surrounded by warmth and love, with weekends camping in the wilderness. The last two years, however, since his mother’s mysterious death, have been spent alone on the streets of Boston, homeless and always on alert for danger.
On Magnus’s sixteenth birthday, his estranged Uncle Randolph tracks him down, and tells him an unbelievable tale: the teen is the son of a Norse god. Not only that, he is the rightful owner of a powerful sword, lost for a thousand years.
Just as he finds and claims the sword, downtown Boston is besieged by a god of darkness and death. His new life is put to the test.
And sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die. And then find out you have to prevent the end of the world.
OK. So. This is new. The hero dies in the first few chapters. Not what you would usually expect. But awesome. Norse mythology, to my understanding, is big on pain. They like their gods to suffer. And boy, does Magnus suffer.
The good. As always, Riordan excels at character development and world building. There is diversity in the characters. Hearth, Blitz, Sam, the uncles and, of course, Annabeth, were amazing. They live and breathe outside the pages. I love the crossover with Annabeth and her dad. Loki was terrifying in his oiliness. Thor is not the stunning blond god we see in the Marvel movies; he is just stunned. Hilarious. The Valkyries kicked serious ass. Magnus’s floormates were so distinct in their own voices, I could picture each one at battle and at breakfast. Of all of them, I actually think that Magnus needs more development, but given that he is the centre of the series, we can probably assume it will happen in the later books.
Present day Boston and Valhalla were picture perfect. Obviously, Boston is easy enough to describe, but I haven’t been there in 25 years, and could see the city in my mind’s eye as Riordan described it. And hey, I’ll take Valhalla as a luxury hotel with all the amenities, including entrances to the nine worlds, why not? An eternity in the afterlife with gourmet food, my own suite of rooms and the ability to heal myself after battle sounds like a decent deal.
The humour is always present, with references to both modern pop-culture and the Percy Jackson books, although you don’t have to have read them to find this book funny. But Jack! Jack is FUNNY.
The not-as-good. Pacing. I loved the story, but did feel it was a bit of a slog. With the two Percy Jackson series, after starting a book, I didn’t look up until the last page. They were action packed. Not so with The Sword of Summer. And not because the story was bad, not at all! It was just a bit more work, more dense than what I am used to from Riordan. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of characters and information he packed in that slowed it down.
That aside, this promises to be a fantastic series.
I am not sure whether this book is supposed to be YA or middle-grade, but like Riordan’s other mythology novels, anyone can read and enjoy it.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series is published by Disney Hyperion Books.