Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Report: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (The Sword of Summer)

When I discovered Rick Riordan, I was looking for something with a little more action in YA, and came across the Percy Jackson series. Now, that series is Middle Grade and not YA, but I enjoyed it for the most part. And Riordan's take on the gods was done in a humorous way I hadn't seen before.

The humorous take did kind of hit a tipping point for me though, and after reading the Percy Jackson series I haven't picked up a Riordan series since. But when I saw the first in a new series from Riordan out, with a sixteen year old protagonist, I decided to pick it up. Reading the back matter, it intrigued me;

Here it is from the Amazon page:
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 . . .

I was hoping for a more YA take on the characters, rather than the MG vibe I got from Percy Jackson, and for the most part I feel like that's what I got. The titular character, Magnus Chase, is a little cocky and has just enough of a hard edge to him, that it's likable.


Riordan's take on describing the gods is similar to the Percy Jackson series, though not as flamboyant. I enjoyed Magnus journey, and was actually surprised by how fast he "died" in the story. I was expecting him to die, given the blurb lines, but not as fast as he did.

Sam's character arch through-out the entire story was one of the most interesting to me. I liked the fact she's a Valkyrie who is also a Muslim, which was a take I'd never thought of before. And while I liked the Blitz character, as a fashion designing dwarf, my favorite Magnus sidekick was probably Hearth; a deaf elf who practiced magic. I've studied a little bit of ASL, so I found it really cool how Riordan gave Hearth a "voice", and described some of the hand gestures Hearth would sign.

Loki doesn't have a huge role in this book, but the little "screen time" he gets, I thoroughly enjoyed. Where as most of the other gods came off a little childish, Loki came off to me as an actual threat. When Loki tells the story of how and why he killed the god Baldur, and the punishment he received from the gods, he comes off as a truly dangerous god, that is not to be messed with. And one of my favorite lines from him, "The gods don't pretend to deal in good and evil... Might makes right." In each of Loki's scenes, especially the epilogue when he confronts Magnus' uncle Randolph, you really get the sense of how evil and conniving he can be.

The book jumped the shark for me though,  just about 2/3 of the way through, when Magnus' sword began to talk and fly all on it's own, and became known as Jack. Up until then I was fine with Riordan's style of storytelling, with the funny way gods dress or act, but I kind of rolled my eyes at the sword becoming not just a character, but a full-fledged team member with an actual voice.

For the most part I enjoyed the first book in the Magnus Chase series, and the second book, "The Hammer of Thor" became available. I want to pick up the second book, but I'm a little torn, afraid it might tack on more silliness. But the book ended giving each of the characters, especially Sam and Hearth, more opportunities for growth, and I'm curious to see where their storylines lead. I might pick it up at the start of the year, as I do still have a large TBR list.

That's it for now.


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