20 March, 2018

[Review] The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Release Date: 15 October, 2015
Publisher: Disney Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Fairy Tales & Folklore / Magic / Mythology
ISBN: 9781423160915
Edition: audiobook
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Written: 18 February, 2018
Summary: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother's mysterious death, he's lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the 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 . . .

See more by Rick Riordan at his Website.

I won’t lie, I’d seen Rick Riordan’s work before but had never picked it up. Despite the mythological theme that I adore, and the magic built up around the world built by him, I had just missed the boat on the fandom. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was released during my junior year of high school. I was still in the midsts of the high school dilemma of what I was going to do in college, and still stuck in the Harry Potter craze with the final book not yet released. Picking up a new series just wasn’t in the cards at the time. As I got older, and got into graduate school, I still didn’t have time. I was exposed to a large amount of new children, juvenile, and young adult literature thanks to several of my classes; however I never had enough time to read all the books assigned at the time (I am so sorry to both of my professors in those classes, I don’t think I finished a single book for your class). Still, I swore up and down I’d eventually read Percy Jackson.

This isn’t a Percy Jackson review, honestly, I still have not read that series despite the popularity. This is, in fact, a review for the Magnus Chase series, specifically the first book in the series. I had a fair amount of fun with Magnus on his adventures in his life, or rather his afterlife. Magnus Chase is the cousin to Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series. Given that his parents aren’t in the picture and he doesn’t trust his mother’s eldest brother Randolph, Magnus has decidedly been living on the streets since he was fourteen after the night his mother was killed by two very magical wolves. He hasn’t been completely alone this entire time, his friends Hearth and Blitz have kept an eye out for him on the street. Honestly though, Magnus occasionally wishes that he could find a new home to call his own. Things start off pretty rough on Magnus’s sixteenth birthday with him waking up to a warning that someone has been asking around trying to find him. This leads him to wandering through a few frozen ditches and hearing his cousin Annabeth and Uncle Frederick discussing him as they searched for him in Boston.

Though he escapes them for the moment, Magnus decides he needs to know what’s going on and decides the way to do this is by breaking into his Uncle Randolph’s house. This unfortunate curiosity leads to him being caught by Randolph and ending up on a pier with Magnus summing Sumarbrander, the Sword of summer, and claiming it for himself. Sadly this lovely bonding moment is ruined by Surt, the leader of the Fire Giants, who wishes to destroy Magnus and claim the sword for himself so that he can help start Ragnarok early. Though initially he tries to get out of this without fighting, Magnus eventually takes a stand after Blitz and Hearth are injured due to the Fire Giant’s nature. Though he manages to defeat Surt temporarily, Mangus is promptly killed as he’s struck through the stomach with a flaming rock of melted asphalt. Magnus eventually wakes in the garden of Hotel Valhalla, where all warriors with selfless and noble deaths are carried to by the Valkyries.

Magnus ends up struggling through his life in Valhalla due to the fact that his Valkyrie, Sam, has been kicked out of the Valkyries for bringing him to Valhalla. He also struggles due to the fact his father is the god Freyr, the god of peace, fertility, wealth, rain, summer, and sunshine. Not exactly a prime warrior. Magnus ends up following leads and turns to prevent Ragnarok from beginning and to rebind Fenris Wolf. Though he nearly dies throughout the series on multiple occasions, Magnus and crew are mostly successful. Among those not so lucky during the encounter is Gunilla, a daughter of Thor and captain of the Valkyries who dies in the encounter trying to fight off Fire Giants.

The story is a fanciful blend of Old Norse Mythology and a plot line that will connect to younger readers. I personally enjoyed the idea that Valhalla was a hotel rather than just a feasting hall. Mr. Riordan’s writing is very engaging and Magnus provides a fair amount of comic relief. Overall, I enjoyed this book deeply and promptly went in search of the sequels to listen to.

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