Friday, June 30, 2017

‘Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard’

Among books I’m reading, The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan is the second in his series featuring heroes and gods of Norse mythology, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.

Like Riordan’s series that center around Egyptian and Greek and Roman mythology, Magnus Chase combines trademark action with wry first-person storytelling.

The protagonist, Magnus, was a seemingly ordinary teen, who was living homeless at the time of the series’ opening.

Magnus died early in the series’ first book, but he was transported to Valhalla by a Valkyrie, Samirah al-Abbas. The Valkyries gather the souls of people who have died a hero’s death, and Samirah’s judgement was critically challenged on the basis of her choosing Magnus.

By the end of the first book, Magnus’ status as immortal hero was secured and Samirah was appointed to perform special missions on behalf of “All-Father” Odin.

The Hammer of Thor sends Magnus and Saphira, with friends Blitz (a dwarf) and Hearthstone (an elf), on a quest to recover Thor’s missing hammer. They are joined by Alex, a hero new to Valhalla who, like Samirah, is a child of Loki the Norse trickster god.

One of the consistently enjoyable aspects across all of Riordan’s series is that while the mythic characters behave in ways consistent with their portrayal in original mythology, they’re given a modern twist. For example, the heroes’ afterlife of Valhalla has been structured as a luxury hotel. Odin, in his role of owner/manager of Valhalla, uses motivational PowerPoints.

Look for allusions to Riordan’s other series while reading Magnus Chase. Magnus is cousin to Annabeth, who is daughter of Greek goddess Athena. The action takes place concurrently with the Trials of Apollo, which centers around the god Apollo stripped of his godly status.

Disclosure of material connection: My taxes support my public library’s acquisition of this and other resources. I consider the access I enjoy to be a “priceless” return on my investment.

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