Title: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Reviewed by: Alex
What to Expect: A superbly fun and clever tale of a sixteen-year-old Kurt Cobain look-alike who’s life gets infinitely more interesting once he dies. For one thing, he’s a Norse demigod and there are eight other worlds he never knew existed. For another thing, that’s just the start of it. Magnus quests with his found family as he’s surrounded by magic galore, berserkers, lots of fighting,…and the promise of a cool genderqueer character in a later book in this series which, to be honest, is why I picked up this first one.
Plot: Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and truant officers.
One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
Review: There is a reason Rick Riordon is popular and not just because his books might be the children of an impossible affair between JK Rowling and Douglas Adams with J.R.R. Tolkien looking on and giving golf claps in the background. His writing is stupendously clever and funny, sharp and whimsical, elliptical, and hits the sweet spot of pacing and tone even when weaving together our current world with an ancient one. He’s done it with Greek Gods in Percy Jackson’s tale and now he’s working his magic to recreate the Norse realm. I wouldn’t have thought it would work but it does. And spectacularly so.
What you may not like: There is a thing in which a potentially unlikable character morphs and becomes something else. Something that instantly gains the respect of all those who didn’t respect them before. I don’t want to say who or when it happens. But I would have really liked this character to stay as is for many reasons, the first of which is that this character didn’t need to be rescued.
What you will love: I loved the word play all the way through. There were several conversations that would be interrupted by a change of heart or thought or teenageism that caught me laughing out loud. It’s clear that Rick Riordan is a guy who admires the people he’s writing books for. This absolutely comes out in his writing style and makes for a great reading experience. Riordan is also mindful integrating people of all shapes, makes, and sizes into his work. So far, I’ve not read anything that comes across as bad rep, though he could have had pitfalls across gender, identity, ableism, racism but he appears to empower his readers at every turn. The pacing is fast and exciting.
Overall, this is simply an excellent book.
Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.
Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra