Magnus Chase is a homeless, brave teenager who turns out to be the son of the Norse god Freyr. Magnus learns his father’s sword, the sword of the summer, is lost and he spends the book searching for it. An evil fire giant named Surt is also looking for the sword so he can hasten Ragnarok, an apocalypse that will mean the end of the Norse gods. When Magnus dies, Sam, a Valkyrie or Viking angel, collects his soul to go to Valhalla, Viking heaven, where he and other heroes are training for the coming apocalypse. Blitz, a fashionable dwarf, has been assigned to protect Magnus and to help him collect the sword of summer. Another important character is Hearthstone, a mute, who is a wizard and speaks in sign language. He is also assigned to protect Magnus. The book starts in Boston where Magnus lives on the street but he travels to Valhalla and eventually Magnus will travel the world.
I enjoyed this book. I didn’t like it as much as the Percy Jackson series but I do like it more than a lot of Riordan’s other books. The book brought back the funny chapter titles that made the Percy Jackson series such a pleasure. The overall humor of the book was excellent and the style of humor was elevated beyond the dumb humor of a lot of middle school books. Unlike the Percy Jackson books, the main male and female characters are not headed for romance. I found the romance of the Percy Jackson characters predictable and sometimes that romance interfered with character development. The quest of the characters in Magnus Chase will be entertaining for readers. The quest in his other books was often interrupted by battles. The one thing I disliked about the book were some plot tangents, like when they had to get earrings for a goddess, that I found tiresome. Another criticism I have about this book is the battles weren’t all that thrilling. Magnus could just give orders to his personified sword “Jack” to kill someone.
It’s not a spoiler–it’s even on the cover flap of the book–but to have the main character die in the first one hundred pages was quite a shock. Another memorable moment in the book is when Hearthstone is signing to the god Thor and Thor misunderstands all the signs. In fact, Hearthstone is signing that he thinks Thor’s idea is crazy. The most unforgettable thing about the book is Magnus’ sword. The sword is called Jack and it speaks. Jack has a funny sense of humor and the sword acts superior to a lot of people. Whenever they are about to do something very extreme, Jack inevitably says, “You’re probably going to die here but it’s fine.”
Reviewed by Aidan, Grade 6, Gayton Branch Library