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Book Review: The Sword of Summer

November 30, 2016

Magnus Chase.JPGThe Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase, Book 1)
Rick Riordan
Disney Publishing Worldwide
(library book)

Rick Riordan writes fun books. Magic, mythology and gods, adventure, and a great cast of characters teaming up as found-family. I’ve had fun with all of his series that I’ve read so far. Percy Jackson starting it all with a world where kids are descended from Greek Gods, weaving into Roman gods and mythology, with Jason Grace and friends. Egyptian mythology gets its due in the Kane Chronicles, a series I particularly like for its back-and-forth narration between brother and sister, as well as the interesting magic. I’m (ahem) a few years older than his target middle-grade demographic of readers, but every time I read a Rick Riordan book, I’m happy. I was curious how Riordan would put his stamp on the world of Norse mythology.

The Sword of Summer is great fun. Magnus Chase is living on the streets of Boston, as he starts to tell his story:

Excerpt from the first chapter of The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus is on his own, and as the action gets started, we start to piece together his story: his mother was killed in his house, and he’s on the run, knowing that nobody would believe what he saw… wolves with glowing eyes. As the story gets going, it emerges that truth is much, much stranger than Magnus suspected. He’s the child of a Norse God, there’s a sword that is his birthright, and a prophecy has Magnus and the sword maybe playing a central role in when Ragnarok is going to happen.

Which means that a lot of people are after him. With various godly and magical allegiances, bargains to strike, and side-quests to insist on. And plans to eat him and his friends, knock them off the World-Tree, and various other deadly goals.

Fortunately, Magnus has the two friends he made on the street, Blitz and Hearth. Who are, this being a Rick Riordan tale, definitely more mythological than they seem. There’s also Sam, the Valkyrie responsible for bringing Magnus to Valhalla. Who may be in disgrace, as Loki’s daughter, and the Valkyrie who brought Magnus to Valhalla. It’s complicated. I like Sam. Sam might be my favorite character in the ensemble. (Though it’s hard to pick.)

It’s a fun adventure that stands on its own as an entry point into Riordan’s demigod tales, with a few links to characters to make fans smile. (And enticing crossover possibilities, hooray!) And a solidly promising start to a new series of Riordan’s excellent blend of riffing on mythology with magic, intrigue and humor. Another aspect I enjoyed was the evolution of teamwork and friendship over the adventure. That, even more than the goofy humor, was what made me smile about this book. Definitely putting it on the comfort-reads list. (And reminding myself to re-read other demigods books when I need a mood boost.)

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