Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
I’m a big fan of the Percy Jackson novels. Much better than those abysmal movies. After his first five book series, Riordan tried his hands with a trilogy on the Egyptian gods. And it was AWFUL. I hated his heroes, especially the sister. So Riordan went to the Roman gods this time, and did a neat little blended pseudo-sequel using Percy Jackson’s greek pantheon and the Roman gods and the overlap. Well done, another bang up five books. And so Riordan announced he was going to tackle the Norse gods next. I was super fucking nervous. Because Egypt didn’t do so hot — pun intended.
But this one works out awesomely. Magnus Chase is a homeless runaway in Boston. He discovers that his cousin and uncle have been searching for him. His cousin being Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson books. Didn’t even occur to me. Shows how close a reader I am.
Anyway, Magnus suddenly finds himself fighting a fire giant on a bridge with an enchanted sword when he sacrifices himself to save the city and ends up in Valhalla. And from there it becomes a good ol’ fashioned Riordan romp through mythology with teen heroes.
Riordan pretty much nails it like he did with Heroes of Olympus. It’s got ties to Percy Jackson, but not overt ones, so that avenue is there, but he’s not forcing the issue. The wacky Norse shit stands on it’s own. Magnus is a fun reluctant hero, and as we delve into the past of him and his supporting cast, we get nice depth. And the main quest, while incredibly circuitous, is superbly interesting. Plus, I love that Midgard and Asgard and shit are centrally located in Boston. And that Riordan justifies it nicely.
Plus, he has a diverse cast that never feels like checklisting. I accuse a lot of authors of just dropping diversity because they want to seem sensitive at the cost of the narrative. Here, we’ve got a black dwarf into fashion, an Arabic Valkyrie whose faith and culture are entwined in her actions, and a deaf elven rune mage, who contacts through sign language. Each of their differences plays a part in the action rather than being other for the sake of other. It’s as awesome as Ms. Marvel being Middle Eastern.
I really am excited to see what Riordan does with the rest of the series. I’m a fan of his myth work.