If you’ve enjoyed all of Rick Riordan’s previous mythology series, the odds are pretty good you’ll have a blast reading Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, set in the world of Norse mythology. All the stuff that makes a Rick Riordan book so great is here: ancient gods who’ve picked up modern styles and habits (Loki makes an appearance wearing a Red Sox jersey and Thor can’t get enough of prime time TV shows), hilarious chapter titles (“Come to the Dark Side. We Have Pop-Tarts” and “I Am Trash-Talked by a Squirrel” are among my favorites), interesting juxtapositions between the human world and the mythological world (since the story is set in Boston, the entrance to Valhalla is through a townhouse on Beacon Street), and a wise-cracking protagonist who will make you laugh and start rooting for him within the first few pages of the book.
As the story opens, Magnus Chase has been homeless since his mother died, surviving on the streets of Boston. On his sixteenth birthday, Magnus’s estranged uncle breaks the incredible news that not only is Magnus the son of a Norse god, but also he has inherited an ancient and powerful sword and oh, by the way, he has enemies who want to kill him for it. The pressure only builds from there when Magnus learns all doomsday will break out unless he can find the sword first and protect it from those who are eager to wield it for evil.
I really enjoyed getting to know Magnus Chase and all the interesting characters he befriends on his quest. I love that the author not only gives each character unique quirks and abilities, but also he features characters of diverse backgrounds, including a deaf elf who communicates in American Sign Language and a Valkyrie who is Iraqi-American.
The Sword of Summer is a super-entertaining introduction to Norse mythology. All the foreign words and names can be a little confusing at first if, like me, you know next to nothing about Norse history or culture. Since Rick Riordan is behind the wheel, though, you’re going to have a fun ride no matter what, and soon you’ll be saying “einherjar” and “Ginnungagap” with the best of them. I can’t wait for Book 2!