Years ago I read The Lightning Thief by Riordan along with the rest of the world. I enjoyed the book, not enough to go on and read the rest of the series though. It wasn’t bad. My kids loved it. It is a great way to introduce kids to the basics of Greek mythology and get them excited about it. Here in Texas, Greek mythology is required in 7th grade. Some might argue that it is not an accurate portrayal of the original stories. Of course not. But what I like is that kids come to class and hear about Medusa and think, oh yeah, I’ve heard of her! Instead of thinking, Medusa? A lady with snake hair? What? That is crazy-talk! So the books serve a good purpose in my opinion.
Now, why did I pick this book up? I have been fascinated by Norse Mythology since before it was cool! I bought a book of Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley Holland maybe a decade ago. Right after I read Magnus Chase, I picked up Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Guess what I’m reviewing after this post!
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
The Sword of Summer
By Rick Riordan
Edited by: I wasn’t able to find it.
(Little Rant: The front matter has the illustartor’s name, author’s name, rune artist’s name, and cover designer’s name, but it doesn’t have the editor’s name. Editors are a huge part of what makes a book amazing, so why don’t they get more recognition? Usually it is in the acknowledgments, but since I listed to the audio version, I don’t have that. )
Narrator: Christopher Guetig
First, here is a book trailer for you that I found on Riordan’s website.
I thought that was pretty cool!
This book begins with a teen boy named Magnus Chase. (Interesting name! Apparently Riordan got it from Cassandra Clare and dedicated the book to her for the idea!) His parents died in a fire two years ago. He has been homeless ever since. He refused to go into foster care. It is his birthday. His crazy uncle, Randall, was out looking for him.
Out of the blue, he gets attacked by a fire giant. Why is he attacking a teenager on his birthday? That is just crazy!
He has two friends who help him. One friend is named Blitz; he hates daylight for some reason. His other friend is Hearth, who is deaf. The three of them all know sign language. I love that Riordan included a character with a disability. It added another problem for them to overcome in the scenes. It also gave representation to a population of people which are grossly underrepresented in literature. Go Riordan!
Magnus, with his friends Blitz and Hearth, are plunged into a wild adventure that is a twist on all the old Norse myths. As I said, I read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman right after this book. It has been eons since I read the Holland one so I had forgotten most of what I read before. When I read Gaiman’s book, I realized that Riordan had taken a ton of the myths and put Magnus into the center of those stories in some way. I think it was rather brilliantly done!
I think my favorite scene in this book was a competition between two dwarfs to craft the greatest gifts for the gods. Magnus and friends needed one of the dwarfs to win. Hilarity ensues. I won’t spoil it for you but it made me laugh out loud.
At first the narration of this book drove me absolutely bat-crazy! I have never heard this narrator before. The way he read Magnus made the character sound vacant headed. After awhile I got used to it and the character somewhat fits with that vacant head personality. After all, Magnus is a teen boy caught up quite unexpectedly in a world of gods and giants and is completely out of his league. I’m curious to listen to another book narrated by this person.
This is actually an excellent book for having narration. I don’t know about you, but I am not overly familiar with how to pronounce all the names in Norse literature. Often when there is a word or two I don’t know how to pronounce, I just skim over it without much stress. This book has quite a few though, so the narration was nice to have with this book.
One thing I love about the writing in this book is the description, similes, and metaphors. Here are some examples:
“His tie looked like it was tied when spun around in total darkness.”
“A scab was ripped off my brain, exposing memories from when I was six years old. I remembered…”
I love the silliness, unique perspective, and sarcasm of this character.
Who will Like This?
This book would be appropriate for an advanced 3rd grader and up from there. This book is aimed at around 4th grade to 7th grade age kids. If you like humor and adventure, you’ll like this book. It is very fast paced too, which is one of the reasons kids love Riordan’s writing so much.
Foul Language: Very, very mild. A few words that kids use all the time because some people don’t consider it a cuss word.
Excessive or Vivid Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Substance Abuse: None
So overall what is my opinion? I give it 4 quills.
Bonus: I stumbled onto some very exciting news! Take a look at this: http://rickriordan.com/2017/04/rick-riordan-presents/
I love that Rick Riordan is doing this project! I mean really love! I am fascinated by by stories from other cultures and I can’t wait to read these. My regard for Rick Riordan has gone up because he is using his fame to promote diversity and help promote new authors.