Rating: 4 1/2 stars
“Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer” by Rick Riordan will not disappoint his many fans. The creator of “Percy Jackson and the Olympiads” and many other very popular children’s series brings a new set of myths to life. This time, instead of Greek gods, Magnus Chase is a descendant of a Norse god, Frey. His untimely death (he’s dead before page 50) leads him to Valhalla.
Riordan irreverently creates a Valhalla which is called Hotel Valhalla, complete with room service and a game room. Riordan also creates a wonderful group of characters who help Magnus. As a perfect device for our time and political climate, Magnus’s Valkyrie, who takes him to Valhalla, is Muslim. Her hijab is magic, and she wears it like a scarf just as often as she covers her hair. She is not religious, but it’s clear that her grandparents are.
The other two sidekicks are a dwarf and an elf. Blitz and Hearth, dwarf and elf, have been watching over Magnus for the two years since his mother died protecting him from wolves. Her dying warning was for him to hide and under no circumstances go to his uncle for help. So Magnus has been homeless, dirty, and hungry a lot in the past two years.
Magnus realizes that his uncle is trying to find him, and when he sees his uncle, he’s told that it’s his sixteenth birthday (it’s easy to lose track of time when you are homeless), and he needs to retrieve an artifact left to him by this father. The artifact is the Sword of Summer, and it’s at the bottom of the Charles River. Right after retrieving the magic sword, Magnus is attacked and killed by an entity called Surt, who is destined to have the sword.
While the action fills the book — almost on every page — Riordan’s trademark humor also peppers the pages. His chapters have clever titles like “Come to the Darkside. We Have Pop-Tarts” and “My Funeral Director Dresses Me Funny” and “My Sword Almost Ends Up on Ebay.” The humor is not limited to the chapter titles, and even the bloodiest and grimmest of scenes are also good for a chuckle.
There is magic galore, sacrifice, gallantry and good deeds, and lots and lots of adventure. While the book ends the first adventure perfectly, it’s very apparent — and exciting — to think about the future adventures of Magnus, the character whom readers will think fondly of for the next year. Until the next adventure is available.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.