For his 16th birthday, Magnus, a homeless boy living in Boston, finds out that fire giants are after him. Happy birthday, Magnus. Welcome, readers, to the new Rick Riordan book, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer.
Shortly there after, Magnus dies.
Isn’t this going to be a good story!?
The New Rick Riordan Book Series: Magnus Chase
Before I could touch Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, my 13-year old devoured it in one weekend. When I got my hands on it next, I read it in one day (and night.) It’s so good neither of us could put it down.
Like Riordan’s other books, this new series starts out with action and keeps the pace fast and furious throughout. The hero, Magnus, is a smart and snarky kid who is thrust into a crazy situation — the Norse world of which he’s apart since (surprise!) his dad is Frey, a god that’s been off the radar for awhile.
When Magnus dies, he’s taken to Valhalla, one of the Norse Mythology afterlife locations, Odin’s realm but he won’t stay there long. He decides that despite the risks, he must find the sword so that he can prevent the end of the world (Ragnarok). To do so, he’ll have to search the Nine Worlds and stop the Fenis Wolf from escaping. (No pressure.)
Lucky for Magnus, he trusts a few friends including an ex-Valkyrie Islamic girl named Samirah Al-abbas plus an elf named Hearthstone and a dwarf named Blitzen who accompany and help Magnus on the quest. These are well-developed, interesting side-kick characters that I’m looking forward to learning more about in the next books.
One thing that you’ll notice, besides the great adventure and excellent humor throughout, is that Riordan embeds diversity in a really positive, not-gratuitous way. I particularly loved that the elf, who happens to be mute and uses sign language, saves the day because he’s not affected by Fenis’ intoxicating voice. (That’s just one of the many cool details.)
I’ve always loved Rick Riordan’s books, particularly the Percy Jackson books. (Although, I admit to losing some interest in Heroes of Olympus series) The Magnus Chase got me really excited about Riordan’s writing again — better than The Kane Chronicles and the Heroes books combined. (Which are not bad, but Magnus totally rocks.)
And, before I forget, guess who is Magnus’ cousin!? Annabeth Chase!!! (from the Percy Jackson books.) They connect at the end so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her in the second book.
Any kid, reluctant reader or not, who likes adventure, mythology, and humor is going to be a fan of this new series. I highly recommend it.
The second book in the Magnus Chase series comes out fall of 2016 and will be called The Hammer of Thor. (Thor loses his hammer A LOT.)
Norse Mythology and Magnus Chase
When you’re reading fiction books with Norse mythology in them such as Magnus Chase, I think it helps the reader to have some background knowledge about it. Let me get you started . . .
The Norse Myths weren’t all written down but there are many old stories from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland that have been found. (Remember “Beowulf” from High School English?)
So, bookmark the back of the book for the Norse terms. The glossary there is very helpful!
I also used my phone’s dictionary app to get proper pronunciation of words –and found out all this time I’ve been saying Valkyrie incorrectly! (The horror!) See if your kids would do this. It might help.
In general, I found that the Norse words are phonetical. In other words, you can pretty much guess their pronunciation by sounding them out.
To learn more about good books about Norse Mythology visit my post on Norse Mythology for Kids which includes fiction books with Nordic myth elements and nonfiction books about Nordic Mythology that I recommend.
The word rune means letter in Old Norse. PBS Nova shows how to write your name in runes. According to their website, each rune represents a phonetic sound and also has it’s own Norse mythology meaning.
If your parents approve, and you’re 13 or older, watch the trailer and or movie, Beowulf. I saw it at the IMAX in 3D and whoa –the 3D made this poor movie pretty cool.
Although more about the Norse culture than the mythology, you’ll still want to try these other resources:
- John Green enthusiastically gives you a Crash Course on The Vikings! (And skips a lot of the blood and guts.)
- You may want to check out “25 Facts about Norse Gods Hollywood Won’t Teach You” from list25.
- BBC’s series, The Viking Sagas, is on YouTube.
- Did you know that The History Channel has a show called Vikings? Here are highlights from season 1 . I haven’t watched any more than this highlight reel but I’m pretty sure you’ll want to preview the show before you allow your kids to watch.