Today I went for something nice and easy after the Real World Problems that Mike Royko discussed repeatedly. Not that there’s anything wrong with being informed, but it does make for heavier reading. So I went for something frivolous, yet educational. That would be the Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds: Your Introduction to Deities, Mythical Beings & Fantastic Creatures. This is, as stated on the bottom of the cover, a companion book to Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, which currently has two released books – The Sword of Summer and The Hammer of Thor.
This is not Rick Riordan’s first foray into mythology. In fact, there have been [poor] movie adaptations for a couple of the books from his first such series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. He’s also written the Kane Chronicles and the Heroes of Olympus series, as well as begun The Trials of Apollo. Like so many of us, he began by focusing on Greco-Roman mythology, which is what our Western Civilization (to use the collegiate term) is mostly familiar with of the polytheistic religions of the past. However, the Kane Chronicles feature Egyptian mythology and Magnus Chase quite clearly utilizes that of the Norse.
I am not greatly familiar with Norse mythology. I know a large number of the Greco-Roman stories well, and have had some exposure to the Egyptian gods. But my knowledge of Norse gods, creatures, and tales is scanty and lacking. So when I was at Target last weekend and saw the Guide to the Norse Worlds for under $7, I figured why not? At least it would be well and humorously written. You’ll have to take my word that Riordan is very good at making people laugh, but I’ve decided that you can be entertained simply by reading the table of contents in any of his novels. The only one I can remember offhand is “I Did Not Ask for Muscles”, chapter two in The Sword of Summer.
The target audience for Rick Riordan’s books probably starts somewhere around fourth or fifth grade, but I see no reason for adults to avoid these books. Who cares if they’re shelved with the kids books in libraries and stores? So is Harry Potter, and no one argues with adults reading those.
I can see how little asides throughout the Guide reference current events in the series – that is to say, the gap between books one and two. Admittedly, I haven’t read the second book yet, but that’s because Disney-Hyperion is a pain in the ass. Paperback editions are released roughly eighteen months after the hardcovers first come out. I see no reason to buy hardcovers, especially since I do have thirteen paperbacks all nicely lined up. Admittedly, the Guide is hardcover, but it’s also a different size from the novels and wouldn’t fit in perfectly no matter what I did. I’ll probably read The Hammer of Thor sometime next year, after I get my hands on a paperback copy of The Sword of Summer.
I’m also eager to see if there’s more crossovers in store. We started seeing crossovers between Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Kane Chronicles near the end of the Greek series. Those have since been collected in Demigods and Magicians. And here and there in The Sword of Summer we had some cameos. Will we see more? Will Ragnarok actually come? Has anyone reading this blog ever watched Soap?
Tune in next time!