The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan, Published by Disney Hyperion, Borrowed from the library.
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Sword of Summer was a good, fun read, but did not impact me as much as Riordan’s previous books.
“Myths are simply stories about truths we’ve forgotten.” 27
I love Rick Riordan’s books. I love Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I love the Kane Chronicles, and while I don’t love the Heroes of Olympus series as much as I love the other two, I still love it. Which is why it really pains me to say that I didn’t love the first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.
That doesn’t mean that I hated The Sword of Summer. I really, really liked it. It is a well-written and genuinely enjoyable book. It was funny, and I had fun reading it. I just didn’t love it.
My major problem with The Sword of Summer was that it was just too similar to Rick Riordan’s other books. The plot arc was almost identical to those found in the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series, Magnus Chase acted a lot like Percy Jackson, and many of the characters had familiar roles and relationships.
I have met a lot of people who didn’t really like Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series. That’s all right, and I respect that. I personally loved that series nearly as much as I loved the Percy Jackson series. I think one of the reasons I loved the Kane Chronicles was because those books managed to be extremely different from Riordan’s other books. The Kane Chronicles still have Riordan’s wit and humor, and they make fun of the egyptian myths in the same way his other books make fun of the greek and roman myths, but I felt that the characters and plot of the Kane Chronicles were vastly different to those seen in the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. Part of what I wanted from the Magnus Chase series was that same sense of newness and originality. I just didn’t get that. Instead it felt a little like a rehash of some of the same topics and ideas as the Percy Jackson series.
I had few other small problems with the Sword of Summer. One was that it just felt a little too long. This isn’t really a new problem; I personally felt that the Heroes of Olympus series was too long. I feel like the book length for the Percy Jackson series was perfect, and while the Kane Chronicles books were larger than that, it still worked because there were only three books. This first book felt like it dragged a tiiiiiiny bit. I hope that’s a pattern that doesn’t stick with this series. :/
I also never really felt that the characters were truly in danger. There were parts that felt like they should have been tense, but they didn’t really feel tense.
Now that I’ll this negative stuff is over with I get to talk about what I liked about this book, because I did like it! I gave it four stars on goodreads, and it was a lot of fun. The plot has potential; it was funny in lots of clever little ways, and I really liked the characters!
I thought the norse mythology was really cool. I don’t know much (see: anything at all) about norse mythology, but as always Riordan explains the mythology in really interesting and accessible ways within this story. I also really like how he updated certain mythology for the modern age. It made the gods seem really silly at points, but whatever.
“A lot of Norse stories seemed to have the same message: knowing things wasn’t always worth the price. Unfortunately for me, I’d always been the curious type.” 202
The side characters were really well fleshed out, and were some of my favorites. I like how Riordan always has really great casts of side characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and even with my problems with it I encourage you to try it. The Sword of Summer is a slightly shaky start to a new series, but it is still worth reading.
Okay, spoiler discussion time!
I did not expect Riordan to self-reference in this book nearly as much as he did, but I kind of love it. I was so happy when Annabeth had an actually role in this book. I love Annabeth, and it’s so cool that she and Magnus are cousins. There were so many other little references that were so cool: how Magnus is hoping to have a glamour for the sword of summer and suggests a pen and Jack replies, “A pen sword. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” 245 That was just hilarious. There was also the Jason Grace chapter title but… eh. That one wasn’t as seamless and funny as the other ones.
“I wanted to be the harbinger of ice cream, or falafel.” 106
The characters! Ahhhh I love them so much as always. There was Magnus, and the sass is definitely strong in him, which I appreciated, but he wasn’t my favorite. Sam was really great. I liked how she was the daughter of Loki, an evil but major god, while Magnus was the kid of a slightly more ~minor~ god. Normally the main characters seem to have the most power, but not so much in this one! Anyways, I just liked how she was so determined to do what she thought was right, and didn’t let anyone tell her what to do. And her shape shifting power ohhhh. So cool.
I also really liked Hearthstone and Blitzen. They were probably the most interesting and lovable characters. They each have such problems and everything they do is controlled by that one severed guy but they really care about Magnus and each other and they each sacrifice so much… 😢 I also kind of ship them… opps. It was also interesting how Hearthstone’s hearing impairment and sign language was incorporated and it was so cute how everyone would have conversations in signs. I can’t speak at all to the accuracy of any of the diversity, but I do appreciate how Riordan has been trying to incorporate diversity into his books in a big way.
Now everyone I’ve mentioned was great, my very favorite character was… Jack the sword. Oh my gosh he was hilarious. For one, it’s so cool how the sword of summer is actually sentient and can do stuff on it’s (his?) own, and he was so sassy and ridiculous and just… 😂 (Though I imagine his voice as kind of Bill Cipher-ish, but with more sword… Hmm. It’s a little weird.)
The moment where I felt the most for Magnus was when he first gets to his “hotel” room in Valhalla. When he’s reminiscing about his mom… And then his books! Magnus is a fellow bookworm! That’s cool. 🙂
There was definitely some foreshadowing about what is going to go down with Magnus and the gods in his conversations with Loki. Even though he is evil, I doubt they were all lies… That’ll be interesting to see.
Okay, the ENDING though. So much build for the next books and the whole thing with Magnus’s uncle. I’m scared. I’m excited. It’s gonna be awesome.