Rick Riordan kicks off his new series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, with a fabulous book, The Sword of Summer. The author who has taken on the Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies now introduces readers to the Norse myths. And, this introductory book is as fast-paced and exciting as the early Percy Jackson books were.
Meet Magnus Chase. At sixteen, he's homeless and has been living on the streets for two years after his mother was murdered by wolves. Of course, that's not what the authorities think. When Magnus hears a middle-aged guy and a teenage girl are looking for him, and there are posters up, he knows it's time to get moving. Although his mother warned him to stay away from his Uncle Randolph, he ends up at the family mansion, receiving another warning from Randolph. Magnus turned sixteen, so "They'll be coming to kill you."
They? As Randolph rambles on about Asgard, Norse gods, and swords, Magnus thinks his uncle is crazy. But, there are stories he remembers from childhood. When Randolph and Magnus drive to the Charles River, the young man ends up in the fight of his life. With only the help of two other homeless friends, Blitz and Hearth, Magnus takes on a fire giant in order to save people on the bridge. And, then he dies.
Magnus Chase's death is only the start of a magnificent adventure that sweeps from Valhalla to some of the Nine Worlds of legend. It's a humorous page-turner with chapter titles such as "I am Trash-Talked by a Squirrel." Riordan knows how to bring myths and legends to life in as easy-to-understand fashion. I recognized some of the characters from Kevin Hearne's The Iron Druid Chronicles. But, as Magnus learns, "Myths are simply stories about truths we've forgotten."
Here we have another obligatory orphan who lost his human parent and never knew he was the son of a god. It makes for the perfect hero of a fantasy adventure series. Magnus Chase is courageous, likeable, a little quirky, and, naturally, flawed and sarcastic. What else would you want in a hero? He's not perfect. The characters are offbeat, irreverent, and perfect for the story. Readers of the Percy Jackson books will recognize Magnus' cousin, and know the books may take an interesting turn. Rick Riordan's books always do.
I tired of the books about the Roman gods. And, I never could get into Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles about the Egyptian ones. But, I'm already sorry I finished The Sword of Summer. It's going to be a year until the second book, The Hammer of Thor, comes out. Darn.
The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion. 2015. ISBN 9781423160915 (hardcover), 497p.
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