I’m going to admit….I’ve been putting this book off.
I was wrong.
For the past two years, Magnus Chase has been on the streets. After his mother’s mysterious death, he had no one to turn to: his Uncle Randolph was pompous, his Uncle Fredrick moved away, and his cousin Annabeth ran away from home when they were kids.
On his sixteenth birthday, Magnus’ relatives are looking for him, but they aren’t the only ones. A man named Surt with extraordinary powers finds him, and Magnus discovers he has some powers himself. What’s more, he’s a son of a god. A Norse god.
And then he dies.
In the world of Rick Riordan, this book is nothing new. A teenager discovers that a “dead” mythology still exists, and that they are linked to this hidden world. What’s more, they are fated to save the world. Enter band of misfits, gods that are way too powerful of their ungrateful good, and a narrowly saved planet Earth.
So what makes Magnus Chase not a PJO reboot? This:
The thing about fate, Magnus: even if we can’t change the big picture, our choices can alter the details.That’s how we rebel against destiny, how we make our mark.
And for a bookworm who recently complained about books sounding a lot alike, the details really matter in making a story unique and interesting. And Riordan doesn’t disappoint.
The key is the characters. While the plot of The Sword of Summer is rather formulaic, the cast is diverse and interesting. There’s Samirah, a young Muslim woman trying to balance her regular life with the responsibilities of being a valkyrie. There’s Blitz and Hearth, Magnus’ guardians, who chose to pursue skills others would rather dismiss. There’s Magnus’ hallmates, who each have a unique personality despite very little page count.
But Magnus is the best. This kid is not Percy Jackson. Magnus, despite being hardened by living on the streets, is unprepared for the death, blood, and violence that comes woth being associated with the Norse gods. Rather, his time on the streets makes him more sensitive to people’s needs, after being passed over by the masses walking by.
Futhermore, Magnus isn’t a skilled warrior by nature. He’s snark on the outside, and kind on the inside. This really comes through in his voice, which is sarcastic by nature and kind in response.
Riordan does put in the effort to make nods to the PJO story. Most of them are eye roll inducing while a small handful are rather clever. One similarity between the two series that I rather enjoyed were the witty titles, hinting at the contents of the chapter without giving it away. The last chapter title gives me much hope for the future of the series.
Finally, Magnus Chase does something better than PJO and HOO, and that’s how it deals with the idea of resisting fate. And yes, PJO and HOO seriously address this issue, but in PJO, people choose try to force fate (i.e. Thalia becoming a Hunter, taking the di Angelos out of the Lotus Casino) and in HOO, the prophecy was rather forced. These stories were about heroes (Percy and Leo) choosing fates as if they were prizes up for grabs.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is foretold, and everyone is anticipating it. Magnus knows what’s coming and the roles people are meant to play. And yet, Magnus is constantly questioning why it has to be this way. Why does the world have to end? Why must we betray the ones we love? And those are really interesting questions to ask.
Recommendation: Buy. The Sword of Summer is a promising start to what looks like a great series. With a return to the sassy and yet serious voice and a new mythology with play with, Riordan’s latest book is goes back to the days of PJO with a twist that’s all its own.