"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 ..."--Publisher.
Magnus Chase is a sixteen-year-old Bostonian who has been homeless since his mother died two years earlier. (I think of him as an older, rougher version of Percy Jackson at the beginning of The Lightning Thief.) The Sword of Summer begins with Magnus explaining that he dies. This is not a spoiler, it's right there in the first chapter title. Life changes when he is brought to Valhalla by a Valkyrie because of his heroic death.
Mr. Riordan is definitely well-versed in his Norse mythology and he does a great job of weaving the legends into this contemporary story. His interpretations of different Norse gods, giants, and other magical creatures really fleshes out the story and makes the book hard to put down. I also appreciate the return to the first person narrative and funny chapter titles like "Norns, Why Did It Have to Be Norns?" or "Hey, I Know You're Dead, But Call Me Maybe." These features drew me into The Lightning Thief, and I'm happy they are back. Also, if you happen to miss your favorite demigods from previous series, you may have guessed (I didn't) that there is a cameo at the beginning and end of this book. There are also a number of inside jokes for the fans.
To sum up, The Sword of Summer is a wonderful, fast-paced read. If you liked Percy Jackson or you are interested in Norse mythology I recommend giving this book a try.
To me, this book feels like a return to Riordan's strengths. While I enjoyed the Heroes of Olympus series, it did have some weaknesses -- particularly when it came to the sheer number of point-of-view characters. This book zeros back in on a single first-person perspective (a friend who also read the book refers to Magnus as "an older, rougher Percy Jackson," and I think that sums him up pretty well, though there's still nothing content-wise to discomfit upper-elementary and middle-school readers). Riordan also brings back the witty chapter titles that will have some readers (or at least this one) snorting with laughter at times. The pace is a breakneck as ever, with the usual assortment of monsters and villains, just from further north this time. Riordan works his usual magic with the mythology, seamlessly blending it into the modern world with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor to hold everything together. There are also a few sly references to Riordan's earlier works, not to mention a cameo appearance by a certain other Chase -- readers who haven't encountered those earlier books won't feel lost, but Riordan's fans will love those little inside jokes. Bottom line: if you like Riordan's style, you'll definitely like this book -- and if you've never picked up the others, you can start here without worrying about what you've missed in earlier books.
The chapter titles alone make this book worth it. My cats probably think I'm insane given the amount of times I burst out in maniacal giggles.
I got in a fight with someone a few weeks ago about Game of Thrones and how it feels like everyone GRR Martin kills is simply death fodder. The person I was arguing with said I must be soulless to not feel something for character fleshed out over the course of thousands of pages. Sword of Summer kind of helps proves my point - Just because you know a character for thousands of pages doesn't make them meaningful. It doesn't mean the writer is particularly good at creating characters. Riordan makes character I can care for instantly. Hell, he even made me mourn for a character I didn't particularly like. I fell in love with so many character we only see for a few pages (or a paragraph or two in the case of Ratatosk).
The only complaint I really have is the fact that they kept referring to Fenrir as Fenrir Wolf. After the first twelve times I think the audience gets the picture - he's a wolf. I've never elsewhere seen him referred to as Fenrir Wolf as though Wolf were his surname - and I grew up on Norse mythology (a picture of a nude Thor fighting Jormundgand was my first porn...*sigh* memories...).
I also loved how it features a people of color and a character with a hearing disability.
I was scared this book would be too childish because it is middle grade, but it wasn't.
Review: I had about as much fun with this book as I expected - which is to say, a lot! I was really excited when I found out that Riordan was doing a series based around Norse mythology, which I know better than Egyptian mythology (although not nearly as well as Greek/Roman mythology). But, in his usual style, Riordan explains stuff well enough that I never felt lost (it's not like Magnus knows all that much about the Norse gods to start out with, either), plus I get that little thrill of recognition whenever I did catch some deeper significance. This book can be read completely independently of Riordan's other books, although there are some threads that tie them together (Magnus is Annabeth Chase's cousin, for example). I was also really impressed that Riordan killed off his protagonist so soon into the book - it makes sense in retrospect (How else are you going to get him to Valhalla?) but at the time, I was very much "Wait a minute! You can't do that! Can you? He didn't really just die, did he?" The story, like all of Riordan's books, is fast paced and funny and featuring an interesting (and diverse) supporting cast, and I'm excited to see where else this series goes. (Although I may brush up on my Norse mythology basics in the meantime.) 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If you like Riordan's other books, or Norse mythology with a modern twist, then this is definitely a series you should check out.
Riordan has done it again! I absolutely love his work this far, and have been hoping to see him tackle Norse and Celtic myth. One half of my dream has come true :) Perhaps in the very near future the other half will as well.
This story follows Magnus Chase. As typical of Riordan’s books, our protagonist is a demigod that has no idea of his true parentage. I adore that Riordan links his stories, making it clear that it is all one world and you may come across people and places from previous books.
This book is chock-full of the wit and sarcasm that defines Riordan’s writing style. As with his other books, snippets of old myth are re-invented in terms of our new hero, and the modern world. My favourite from this novel is the re-inventing of the tale of the theft of Idun’s apples, replacing Loki with Magnus.
If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson novels and the Kane Chronicles series, you are sure to love the first Magnus Chase book.
What I like about these stories, and that I find lacking in many modern stories, is that there is Hope.
What I liked: great main character. Magnus is sarcastic (something I love) and snarky. All the characters, good and bad, are unique. I love Riordan’s writing style (he is my favorite author) and I loved learning about Norse mythology, something I knew very little about. As always, I love that his main characters are from a variety of different backgrounds, and this book is no different (from a Middle-Eastern girl to a mute elf that uses sign language). Fabulous.
What I did not like: the book was just too long. The writing was great, but there were way too many action scenes. It was like watching an action movie that was more action than character development. By around page 300, I was ready for the final battle/showdown, but I still had 200 pages left to read. I understand that there were many characters to introduce, but fully developing fewer characters would’ve been more enjoyable and allowed the story to be less choppy.
Still, I did enjoy the book.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Book review by Anastasia K. (4th)