Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer | Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the longest book title of 2015 aka Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer is out now from the peeps at Penguin Books Australia. If you or anyone in your family likes/liked Percy Jackson they will like this. Personally I wasn’t the greatest of fans of the Jackson series, I read a few of them and found the basic plot impressive and the potential for an epic Greek god-like Harry Potter series so close but felt that the writing lacked and it was too juvenile with some stupid things happening in the plot, pretty much lost interest in the movies for the same reason. Well have no fear, my personal thoughts mean diddly squat as Kernel Deb reviews this one for Salty and she loved it. Enjoy her thoughts below…..all the best….JK. 

 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer book cover image
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer | Rick Riordan | Salty Popcorn Book Review

 

BY DEBORAH DAY

If the adventures of an atheistic teenager who discovers he is a Norse demigod with the unique skill set needed to prevent the end of the world sounds appealing, then this is a novel for you. In MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD: THE SWORD OF SUMMER, the reader is swept along with the central protagonist, Magnus, as his brain expands to accommodate the supernatural weirdness of Norse cosmology in which Nine Worlds flank a central cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. As his quest unfolds, manipulative Gods, feisty Valkyries, flying swords, talking goats, magical giants, oversized demented squirrels and evil wolves all play their part, in what is a funny, frenetic tale firmly aimed at mythology lovers.

American Author Rick Riordan started out as an English and Social studies teacher and his book series’ reflect his lifelong love of mythology whether it be Greek mythology (PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS), Egyptian mythology (THE KANE CHRONICLES) or this current series based on the Nordic Mythological Universe. Rick Riordan says he grew up reading about the adventures of Loki, Thor and Odin, and dreaming of Fafnir the dragon, dwarves, giants and magic. He credits Norse mythology as an early stimulus for his reading and writing and in MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD: THE SWORD OF SUMMER he has returned to one of his original inspirations and revamped Norse mythology for a modern audience.

 

rick riordan author image
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer | Rick Riordan author image – Photo credit: Unknown

 

In MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD: THE SWORD OF SUMMER Riordan positions Boston as Midgard (the home of humans in Norse mythology) and lets his Nordic characters run about the modern day city. The central protagonist sixteen year old Magnus Chase, like all good fantasy heroes, appears to be all alone in the world after losing his mother Natalie in a mysterious wolf attack. When we first meet him he is a felafel munching, homeless street kid, who self-describes himself as judge, jury and thief. Implicitly Magnus trusts his mother, even after her death. Her final words Magnus, run, hide, don’t trust anyone. Whatever you do don’t go to Randolph for help, consequently means he is effectively estranged from his extended family including his rich Uncle Randolph with his unnaturally strong obsession with Norse paraphernalia, his Uncle Frederick and Cousin Annabeth Chase.

Chapter 1 in the book is titled Good Morning! You’re going to Die, so it is not really a spoiler to say that Magnus dies a warrior death early on in the novel. In fact it is essential he die, for in doing so he enters Valhalla. Valhalla, as reimagined for a 21st century audience, is an extradimensional hotel with all warrior members getting an upgrade of muscular strength and agility on entry. In Valhalla the undead warriors feast, hack each other to death, and heal; each day repeating Groundhog-Day style, while they wait for doomsday (Ragnarok). In Valhalla Magnus quickly acquires some rudimentary magical skills as well as shield brothers: TJ, X, Halfborn Gunderson and shield sister: Mallory Keen.

Magnus abruptly leaves Valhalla at the panicked urging of the dwarf Blitzen and deaf Elf Hearthstone. Together they team up with the disgraced Valkyrie Samirah as they attempt to retrieve the Sun Sword, defeat the Fire Lord Surt, and prevent a premature doomsday. Together this ragtag quartet face various obstacles and challenges which keep the plot ticking over. This is a novel where adversity fortifies friendship and loyalty, and hardship forges and strengthens abilities. All the while, glamour is used to manipulate human senses so that the other-worldly remains hidden from the mere mortals. Refreshingly there are no cloying love scenes. In fact the characters are only rarely physically demonstrative, supporting each other by sharing their strength, healing one another, and being there for each other in word and deed.

 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer book cover image
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer | Rick Riordan | Salty Popcorn Book Review

 

MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD: THE SWORD OF SUMMER is highly descriptive, with short chapters, frequent action sequences and limited character development; features that make a future screen adaptation likely. Cross over opportunities with the Percy Jackson Series are also flagged given the presence of Annabeth Chase as a peripheral character. The humour of the novel is provided by the modern touches such as the exit from Valhalla being via a five story gift shop complete with the latest in Viking fashions and an Ikea outlet, fire giants being smacked with traffic signs that say make way for ducklings, references to Disneyworld, pop-tarts, cosplay and anime. Interestingly there is also a lot of literary name dropping with The Princess Bride, Scott Pilgrim, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Michael Grant, Darren Shan, and Joe Hill being mentioned in the text.

Magnus and his quest buddies are likeable, and the wry humor and brisk plot make this an amusing light weight page turner for anyone past grade school reading level. Riordan’s mythological characters are not like those in the binary Marvel Universe where each character is either a villain or hero. They are far more colourful. The Norse gods do not even pretend to deal in good and evil, rather they are self-serving, flawed and subject to corruption, and this makes them very entertaining. MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD: THE SWORD OF SUMMER is enjoyable immersive escapism that will no doubt find a wide audience.

 

4 Pops

 

 

Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science fiction, black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.