Book Review: THE SWORD OF SUMMER by Rick Riordan *spoiler-free*

The Sword of Summer, a worthy beginning for the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series

There are probably a few things you should be aware of before you start reading The Sword of Summer, the first book of the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series: 1) Magnus Chase is not Percy Jackson, and 2) Forget all that you’ve learned from the Marvel movies about Thor and Loki.

It seems easy to remember, but it’s also easy to forget. But once you get into trying not to compare them with such other characters, then you’ll come to see how really entertaining the story is. Even if you do tend to involuntarily compare Magnus with Percy, you will still find this very fun, because, you know, Rick Riordan wrote it!

What I love about Rick Riordan’s books is that he doesn’t start off at a slow pace. It’s pretty fast-paced from beginning to end, even in the first book. It helps that he really doesn’t have much world building to have to trouble us with in the beginning since his stories take place in the modern day. But when he does have to describe the environment or people, it still tends to go pretty fast. Maybe it’s because he makes it interesting, and humorous half the time, especially when things are being described by sassy teenagers.

Magnus Chase art by John Rocco

Of course, this sassy teenager is different from Riordan’s previous sassy teenager. Now, like I said, Magnus is not Percy, however, yes, he does have some similar qualities to Percy, one of them being his ability to have a funny or smart-alecky quip to say, especially in the face of danger. Still, there are things about Magnus that make him Magnus, aside from his outer appearance.  Even though he’s a brave person, he also knows fear well, and isn’t ashamed to admit it, at least in the first person narrative.  He certainly shows a lot of emotion in different situations and we get to understand and connect with him in that way.

His friends are also very unique, and you’ll be happy to know, quite diverse. I loved them all almost immediately, although for some unknown reason, I do have a special place in my heart for the one elf named Hearthstone. His other friends and allies are equally as lovable. They’re also complex, with their own backstories and personal issues which we get to see some of. Aside from his main entourage, some of the other characters are not necessarily good or bad as we would tend to label them in. And since Rick has done this excellently in the past, I’m looking forward to seeing how these character develop in the future books.

Aside from characters that I’ve learned from Marvel’s Thor movies, which is a highly misinterpreted version of Norse mythology, I really had little knowledge of Norse gods and goddesses and how much they influenced our world. Luckily, Riordan puts his spin on this and, like with Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology, he makes it fun to learn about them. Getting to see the Norse characters and creatures and places through the eyes of this demigod, I really was fascinated by how much of the mythos is out there, even if I couldn’t pronounce some of the names and words used.  We get to know about the different worlds that exist in Norse mythology, not just Midgard (Earth) and Asgard (Thor’s home), and much more, but I don’t want to say more.

You’ll find there might be a bit more description of violence and cursing than you’re used to in a Rick Riordan novel, however, it’s absolutely nowhere near as bad as many of the other YA books out there, which I’m grateful for. (Because not every YA book has to have all kinds of curse words and sex in order to have a good story.)

As far as the story itself goes, it was all I had hoped for from a Rick Riordan novel. Magnus faces a lot of opposition and a lot of physical challenges and goes through one heck of a journey with lots of surprises, excitement, humor (I did laugh out loud a lot), and even some tears (I cried as well).

Thankfully, it also had a sound ending. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have read this book. I know there might be others out there who want more Percy, but honestly, I’m am ready for more Magnus Chase. He is definitely a worthy successor to lead a new series. Bring it on!

And don’t worry. It’s not like the Percy Jackson characters don’t exist in Magnus’ world. He is, after all, related to another Chase we know. With that connection, we may see familiar characters from the Percy Jackson books in this series. But it’s still all about Magnus and that’s just fine with me.

Grade: A+


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