Review: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase #1)


The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan // VBC ReviewThe Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)
Rick Riordan
Published: Oct. 6, 2015 (Disney-Hyperion)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Jannelle

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Magnus Chase has been living on his own for the past two years, homeless on the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, suffering from the death of his mother that dreadful night two years prior. Now Magnus is being pursued by an estranged uncle he was warned to stay away from and as the night of his sixteenth birthday comes to a close, he realizes that those Norse myths he was read as a kid are real—and he’s the son of a Norse god. As Magnus faces off against the fire giants destroying his precious city, he makes a fatal decision to save the lives of his fellow Bostonians—the catalyst needed to begin Magnus’ story.

When Magnus dies, he is transported to Valhalla—home of heroes who died valiantly in battle and who have a relation to the Norse gods—by a Valkyrie. As he becomes comfortable in the lofty suite he will spend his afterlife in, Magnus starts to realize that there are plenty of people keeping secrets around him. The Valkyrie who brought him in, Sam, seems to be hiding something, the video recording of his “valiant battle” was edited to make him look less than valiant (and make Sam questionable for bringing him in), and the homeless buddies who he was hanging with the last two years are actually an elf and a dwarf who catch up to him in his afterlife. Soon, Magnus realizes he needs to go back for the Sword of Summer he left behind in the battle with the fire giants and continue on a quest to prevent Ferris Wolf (arch-enemy of his father) from escaping.

As the novel starts, you already know Magnus is going to die. I mean, it’s the title of the first chapter but you think, ‘He’s coming back because of awesome Norse magick,’ and then you realize that he’s already dying (because it’s that quick) and he remains that way—dead. The good news is that eventually you become okay with the idea of a dead protagonist (because you have to).

From the first page, The Sword of Summer is an epic journey. There is a constant stream of action and humor than you can’t help but simultaneously gape and laugh-out-loud at. The gods are depicted true to their mythological characteristics, with quirky personalities (my personal fave was Loki) that have you giggling while reading. You know me and my love of fast-paced plots, so you can see why I gave The Sword of Summer 4.5 stars: it was non-stop action and adventure and it was glorious.

I will say, however, that I was disappointed with an anti-climactic twist at the end of the novel relating to Magnus’ ominous prophecy while in Valhalla. I mean, no spoilers here, but I was expecting more from that storyline. Maybe in the next installment?

If you’re worried about The Sword of Summer reading as a middle-grade or really young, young adult novel, don’t be. As a long-time fan of Riordan’s work, I think this is his most relatable and oldest feeling protagonist to date. I’m not sure if it’s because of the struggles Magnus had to face with his mom and ending up being homeless incredibly young, but it works.

Whether you’re a long-time fan or curious about picking up your first Riordan novel, The Sword of Summer is full of unlikely heroes in the most hapless circumstances—so of course, it’s incredibly entertaining and you need to read it. I look forward to picking up the second novel in the series, The Hammer of Thor, coming out next year.

Sexual content: none

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