At long last, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer has been released in paperback. More importantly, it is also in my possession, and I finished reading it for the second time. You may remember that, back in October, I read a guidebook that was left for Magnus to better familiarize himself with the Hotel Valhalla and the Norse mythology into which he’s been plunged. Well, this is the book it stems from, being the first in Rick Riordan’s Norse series.
The man has previously tackled Greek, Egyptian, and Roman mythology in the same way: by taking seemingly ordinary kids (mostly around fifteen or so) and revealing that they are somehow connected to these ancient pantheons. Magic is real, monsters are real, and so much of the world is not what it seems.
Not to mention that all these different groups of gods exist in the exact same world. Anyone who has read Percy Jackson and the Olympians or The Heroes of Olympus would recognize one of the more unusual names in chapter one: Annabeth. This reader would know her to be a daughter of Athena. This makes me giggle insanely to realize that Annabeth Chase is cousin to our new protagonist, Magnus Chase. Which means that not only are there two gods in this family tree, but these two gods are from different pantheons, something that hasn’t been seen yet in any of the thirteen earlier novels.
The whole world that Riordan’s built is a great way to educate kids (yes, these are kids books, not teen) about the various mythologies. It introduces not only the gods and other heroes, but also creatures, magics, and history. In the Greco-Roman books, I had fun trying to figure out threats and friends ahead of the reveal based on my own knowledge. In the Egyptian and here in the Norse books, I get a good grounding in mythologies I never was familiar with. Oh sure, there are things that have been changed or altered to fit in with the world. But a lot of that core is intact.
I may have mentioned that I consider one of the joys of Riordan’s books to be the table of contents. Just reading it straight through is hilarious. I sent the list for The Sword of Summer to a friend and asked if she’d read the book based on the chapter titles alone. She said she’d been interested since the first one: “Good Morning! You’re Going to Die.” (Which really is no kind of spoiler given how much the Norse seem to obsess over death. About as much as they obsess over Ragnarok, really.)
It almost makes me wonder if this series is meant to play off of the Thor movies being in the news, what with the recent Thor: Ragnarok trailer or leak or whatever my coworkers were watching this morning. But, probably not. I’ve complained before about how these things are released as paperback eighteen months after the hardcover release. I’ll also point out how Riordan rarely has series in this world releasing concurrently (like he does right now with this and the Trials of Apollo) so most of them do follow a distinct order. Which takes a long time to be released when you note that there are two sets of five and one set of three currently out in their entirety. I’d judge that the Marvel movies don’t have much effect on the author’s choices. Really, Norse mythology is still one of the better-known pantheons after the Greco-Roman one(s), so it was logical for him to add it to the mix sooner or later. It’s not even the only example in youth books this decade, but let’s not get into Orson Scott Card and his particular monotheistic imagery today.
I enjoy Rick Riordan’s books, and I am very excited to start on The Hammer of Thor next. As you know, I like to reread all previous installments before starting the newest book (though this is not always necessary, depending on how recently I read those earlier entries). However, given the eighteen month gap, that makes Riordan’s books a bit annoying. Rather than banking on being able to get all the books from the library at the same time, I wait until the second-newest is out in paperback, then get the next one from the library. In most cases I don’t even have to put it on hold and can stroll right in to pick it up off the shelf. (Yes, this is exactly what happened yesterday after I got my new library card. Of course, new library to me, I spent most of my time trying to find the book without asking for help.) I wait because, again, I prefer to collect paperbacks to hardcover. And since The Sword of Summer is my thirteenth paperback by Rick Riordan, I will wait (impatiently) and keep the whole set of series that way.