Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)

I don't know if I know how to write a sufficient book review but let's try. I'll give an overview first and then go on to more specifics, but I'll give you a warning when the spoilers start.

So The Sword of Summer is the first book in the new Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan. The book is definitely written in Riordan's familiar style including fast action and ongoing joky tone. That probably has an appeal among a bit younger audience but I feel like I'm getting a little too old for this style. Riordan seems to be determined to claim all the possible gods to his stories, the new addition in this series being the Norse mythology. His next series is bound to be about Hindu gods, I'm calling it here.

To give you a quick synopsis, Magnus Chase is a 16-year-old boy who dies on his birthday fighting a fire giant Surt. He is brough to Valhalla, a place for heroes who died in combat, by a valkyria named Sam. It turns out that Magnus is a son of Freyr, a god from Norse mythology. He gets a prophecy stating that Ragnarök, viking version of the apocalypse, will start in nine days if he doesn't find the Sword of Summer before Surt. That leads to a quest with a lot of twist and turns through several of the nine Norse mythology worlds.

At times I felt like the book had a lot of similarities with the Percy Jackson series and especially with the Lightning Thief. The Sword of Summer is very enjoyable but after reading 14 Riordan books already I'm starting to get tired of his style. He should upgrade it a bit, since his characters are not 12 years old anymore.

Now that I mentioned characters, a few words about them. For the most part they were good and interesting if I forget the fact that they have some similarities to Riordan's earlier characters. The diversity of the characters is wide: Magnus is homeless, Sam is of Middle-Eastern background, Hearth is deaf and Blitz wants to design clothes instead of working as a blacksmith as most of the dwarfs do.

Despite my criticism, I will read the whole series through if it stays on this level (or gets even better, who knows). I liked the book enough to be interested in the story and the characters and the Norse mythology is a cool thing since I don't know much about it. The Greek gods I was somewhat familiar with since we touched on them on history lessons while talking about the Ancient Greece but we skipped the Norse mythology totally when we talked about vikings. I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads and recommend anyone who likes Riordan's other books to read this too.

Now a few words about the specific things in this book. SPOILERS AHEAD! Don't read on if you don't want to get spoiled.

First about the similarities between this book and the Percy Jackson books. To start with Magnus, he finds out that he is a son of a god and not only that, he is the only son of that god in a long time. He has lost his mother, which felt somewhat similar to the Lightning Thief, though Percy's mother doesn't actually die. The book is written in Magnus's point of view a.k.a. the narration is in first person and he cracks same kind of jokes as Percy. Thank gods he is not also ADHD and dyslexic but actually loves reading and books, which was heartwarming for me.

I don't know if I'm going to like Sam or not. She is the Annabeth to Magnus's Percy but I hope they will not become a couple. I love Annabeth and Percy as a couple but for once it would be nice to see a pair working together as just good friends. Sam's background and engagement to Amir is interesting and I'd like to see how that plays out in the long run. 

It was nice to see Annabeth even for a little while. I'd love it if they visited Camp Half-Blood or New Rome and Magnus got to meet Percy and everybody else. 

There are probably a lot more similarities than I have mentioned so far but I'll say this last one and somebody else can pick up from here. Gunilla reminded me of Clarisse, a tall and mean leader type of character who doesn't like the main character. I though she would be one of the regular characters thoughout the series but no. I still can't believe she died, her and Magnus's moment on the balcony looking down on Asgard made me ship them and it was all crushed. Still not over it.

I can already guess what happens in the last book of the series. So much talk about Ragnarök can only lead to Ragnarök or a smaller version of it. It will be an event like the war in the Last Olympian where all gods and demigods and viking heroes are involved.

After reading this I need to get my hands on the Trials of Apollo series but since the first book (Hidden Oracle) just came out I don't think that will happen soon. Luckily I have tons of books waiting to be read, so the wait shouldn't be that bad.

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