Warning: If you have not read “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer” by Rick Riordan, avoid reading this review if you don’t want spoilers. If you’ve already read the book or don’t mind spoilers, go ahead and read this!
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer” by Rick Riordan! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“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 a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man 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’ve read the “Percy Jackson” and “The Kane Chronicles” book series by Riordan long before I started this blog, and if one already knows of either of these series, they’re often based off some sort of mythology. The “Percy Jackson” series was based off Greek mythology, while “The Kane Chronicles” was based off Egyptian mythology. The “Magnus Chase” series is based off Norse mythology, and I’d probably recommend that you read up on some of it before attempting to read this series, as it would make a lot more sense in terms of understanding the Norse Gods and a lot of terminology. Thankfully, there is a glossary at the back of the book to search up many of the terms that come up in this book so we can get a good grasp or gist of the concepts presented.
In terms of the plotline, it seemed to consist of endless questing and not much else. To be entirely fair, the main characters have to make sure Ragnarok doesn’t happen (and thankfully it doesn’t) and try to stop Surt and Loki’s diabolical plans. Despite that obvious structure of having so many quests, however, I think what was more interesting was the internal plot, which contributed to Magnus trying to make sense of literally everything happening in the book. He didn’t really know until he was dead that his family was all mixed up with the Norse Gods, and then he had to go and learn everything in that universe because picture books that he read with his mom when he was little don’t give all the full information. This part is written rather hilariously in some parts (such as when everyone in Valhalla go and eat a beast who can taste like different types of meat depending on which part of the beast you eat), but also very interesting to read.
There are a plethora of characters in this book, varying from Magnus himself, to Sam, to Blitzen and Heathen, and a good handful of the Roman Gods! Despite this, however, all of the main characters were pretty well-rounded. Magnus himself I think got the best development, which is good given that he’s the main hero of this series. Having been homeless for quite some time, he didn’t exactly have that time to himself to grieve over the death of his mother, and after he dies and is “wrongly chosen,” according to a prophecy spouted early on in the book, he takes his time during the whole book to grieve for her. Heck, when Hel tries to tempt Magnus to give up on his quest on the promise of seeing his mother again, he refuses and continues on…because that’s what his mom would’ve wanted him to do. It’s heartwarming to see that Magnus learns to grieve and cope with his mother’s death in the book.
Some of the side characters, like Randolph and Gunilla, could’ve used some more development. I think it’s because of the huge plethora of characters that they didn’t have much time to develop or do much (though in Gunilla’s case it was more doing things and less developing herself in this situation other than how much she approved of Magnus). I hope we get to see more of these characters actually develop a bit as the series continues.
In terms of worldbuilding, I feel like at times the book fell into some info-dumping, though I think it’s expected given that you need to have a good idea of Norse mythology to understand the whole plot as well as how many of the characters are related to each other in some way, as I mentioned earlier in this review. Despite this, however, it’s understandable as long as you read carefully and try not to mix up names.
Overall, I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars for the info-dumping and the lack of character development due to the vast amount of characters juggled around in the book. I definitely look forward to reading the rest of this series, though a basic understanding of Norse mythology would be helpful.