This went on my TBR list as soon as I heard of it, and I picked up a library copy the same day I picked up the Screaming Staircase (which I’m reviewing first Saturday in January). I wasn’t disappointed!
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 . . .
So the story starts with Magnus recapping on the death of his mother, who tried hard to save him from the evil being who wants to kill him, and now Magnus is all alone, except for an uncle who seems to hate him.
Yes, we’ve all heard that before, haven’t we? Oh, and he has a mysterious father who turns out to have been a Norse god. It didn’t look good from my point of view, remembering that Percy Jackson was also the son of a mysteriously bereft single mother and turns out to be the son of a Greek god. But this is how Rick Riordan sets up his demi-god heroes who once were just like you and me – and who wouldn’t like to have a god for a father? Okay, I was very happy with the father I had, but the theory, that you might just be the son or daughter of someone with super-powers, well, I rather like the idea. And having got over the similarities between Magnus and other heroes, I found myself desperately trying to remember my Norse mythology, which I always enjoyed more than the Greeks, but eventually gave up trying to remember and just enjoyed the flow.
This was a brilliantly constructed tale set in contemporary Boston (which I’ve been to several times, but wouldn’t claim to ‘know’), which turns out to be the nexus for shifting from one Norse world to another. The means and mechanisms for doing so are many and varied, and I felt it pretty much hung together well, since, Mr Riordan used the premise: if in doubt, invent another Norse fantastic beast to supply the connection. There are a huge number of them, from squirrels (not the cuddly kind) to wolves and giant horses, to spiders and snakes… Magnus has a gang of cronies who are wholly believable, even when they turn out to be not what they seemed. Sam, the Valkyrie who saves him from Doom, is a really well constructed character with lots of bonus diversity points.
The Sword of Summer is even better. Now this is the sort of sword I like, and one of the things I take away from this book is the cleverness of Mr Riordan in setting us up for a blood and thunder battle and solving it in what I thought was a unique way. It makes me very happy about something that happens in Princelings book 8, since if he can do that, I can do what I’ve done! It’s a very satisfying tale, full of light and shade, brilliant description, superb imagery, lots of fun and absurdity with the gods themselves, and it wraps up fully. Yet you know that there will be plenty more developments for the characters you’ve come to love, if you want them.