Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan:

magnas-chase-book-oneBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Disney Hyperion, 2015
  • Edition: First
  • Description: ix, 497 pages: illustrations ; 22 cm.
  • Interest Level: Tween / YA
  • Summary: 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 an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die… Retrieved from publisher at http://books.disney.com/book/the-sword-of-summer/
  • ISBN: 978-1-41048-316-4
  • Subjects:
    • Mythology / Norse – Fiction
    • Family issues – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: So, I’m sixteen years old with crazy relatives and a sword I pulled out of the river just by willing it?  Does that mean I really have to die today?

Plot Summary: Magnus Chase has been living for the streets of Boston for two years following the death of his mother at the hands of furry blue eyed monsters.  Estranged from her brothers whom she told him not to trust, Magnus has been avoiding authority figures of all kinds as well, living by his wits and with the help of other homeless friends such as Blitz and Hearth.  But when he turns sixteen Blitz tells him that people are going to kill him and that someone is looking for him.  This leads to his being found by his uncle Randolph who convinces him to summon some mystical weapon from the waters of Charles River and oh, by the way, his father was a Norse god.  This all leads to Magnus summoning the sword from the water, being attacked by a fire demon named Surt, and then dying in the battle.  Normally this is where the story would end but in this case it just ends the first part since he is then carried to Valhalla by a Valkyrie which is where his real problems begin.  After that it’s just one thing after another leading to his saving the world and meeting his father, in true Riordan fashion.

Critical Evaluation: Magnus Chase and the God of Asgard: the Sword of Summer is very much a Rick Riordan book.  You have your witty, devil may care young hero who must find out who he really is and what his place is in the world as he has come to know it.  You have all kinds of brave young compatriots willing to risk life and limb to help the hero and you have a bunch of pretty standard bad guys all drawn from some aspect of mythology in this case Norse mythology.  And you have the god-like absentee parent who really, really cares for the kid just not enough to stick around and be a parent.  But, it is a fun read and one that many kids really enjoy so who am I to complain.  The writing is professional, crisp and satisfying if not very challenging.  The story is formulaic but not boring.  Overall it is a good middle school through 10th grade read that will appeal to boys in particular but also to a few girls.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels for young readers, including the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, the Magnus Chase series and the Trials of Apollo. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.  For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. While teaching in San Antonio, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.  While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.  Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

Genre Designation: Fantasy Adventure

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Mythology
  • Family issues

Book Talk Ideas: What if you had lived your whole life thinking your father was one thing and found out he was someone completely different?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected.  The author is very popular and I am interested in Norse mythology.

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