Saturday, September 3, 2016

Book Review: Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer (Rick Riordan)




Magnus Chase knows his way around the streets of Boston pretty well. He knows the best falafel place, and where to go if cops or social workers get too nosy. After his mother died in a fire, Magnus has been living on the streets, avoiding anyone who would try to place him in the system. And also avoiding his Uncle Randolph, a man his mother warned him away from.

That is, until Randolph catches Magnus in his own house. After that, everything changes for Magnus. He learns that the Norse myths his uncle keeps raving about are true, and the Norse deities along with them. Magnus and his duo of misfit guardians have only days to find the Sword of Summer, or else the end of the world arrives in grand style.

The Sword of Summer is a lengthy read, but it’s full of action and thrills. Magnus and his friend are quite literally chased all over the nine Norse realms in search of the titular weapon. Magnus barely has time to adjust to his sort of dead situation before he rushes back out into the world. The plot moves along quickly, with new obstacles that are determined to kill Magnus and his friends.

Magnus’s character development was good. He starts out as not exactly knowing what he’s meant to do, and feeling rather confused (who wouldn’t?). But I like how he begins to adjust and understand his role in the grand scheme of things. He begins to understand his friends, and he learns to face his fears.

The villain that appears first, the Fire Giant Surt, only seems to make one appearance before other Norse monsters are out for Magnus’ demigod blood. But Surt isn’t the real villain, it turns out. Fenris Wolf is. I would have maybe liked to see a little more foreshadowing into that, but Fenris was an intimidating villain. And he was just about the only character who didn’t try to crack a joke every other sentence. The humor in this book was funny, to be sure, but there were times when it was too much. It felt too heavy, and I was wishing that someone would keep a serious face for longer than a scene.

The worldbuilding was really neat, with multiple levels due to the realms in Norse mythology. Each new world was unique, and full of its own hurdles for the heroes to crash through.

My favorite character, Hearthstone, was a key element in the climax and I like how his arc came together at the end. His handicaps became an asset at the end, and it cool to see how he was tied in to it.

***

Gore/violence: There's a LOT of fighting monsters and such, but nothing is in detail.

Profanity: If any, it may have only been referenced.

Sexual content: Not that I recall.

Other: Norse deities are considered real (as with any other deities in Riordan’s works). Mention of Jesus “refusing” Thor’s challenge, or some such event. Characters drink mead. Magnus steals, and he believes it to be okay because he steals from "snobby" rich.

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