The Sword of Summer

Sword of Summer


Written by Rick Riordan

I love Rick Riordan.  I would read a book where he wrote the ABC’s over and over again.  There is not a single book he has written that had changed my mind about that.  Riordan takes everyday people, misfits in every imaginable way, and makes them into heroes.  Reluctant heroes, hapless heroes, but heroes nonetheless.  He makes you believe in the fantastic.  He makes you look at the world in a way you did not before.

The Story

Magnus Chase is a homeless kid living on the streets of Boston when he is attacked by a fantastic creature.  He finds out that is related to a Norse god, and that his destiny is bound to either saving or ending the world.  Armed with a magical sword, loyal friends, sarcasm, and a undying love of falafel, he rolls with it.  And adventure ensues.

The Good

Riordan brings fun and perspective to myth and legend.  His Percy Jackson series (a fabulous series) involved Greek myth.  It was more accessible for me because I knew more about it.  Norse myth, not so much, but Riordan gives it a go with references to Thor and Avengers movies, plus a plethora of other contemporary references.  He uses a deft hand to teach without teaching.

I love Riordan’s sense of humor.  He turns stereotypes on their heads to create rich, relatable characters that hopefully lead you to become more accepting in real life.  They also make me want to be brave.  These characters are as engaging for their weakness as they are for their strength and talents.

The story is well paced, as expected.  Magnus moves from adventure to adventure, with appropriate breaks in between.  I love that every time I think something like, “Don’t they eat?” or “Don’t they sleep?” or “What about the bathroom?”, Riordan injects a bit of everyday normalcy.

This book is considered Young Adult.  It is a great book for the young person in your life.  Without preaching, it shows them to be brave, and accepting, and to roll with the punches.  It shows them how to become heroes.  And yet, it is just as engaging and interesting for adults.  This is a well written book.

The Not-So-Good

The problem with being as good as Riordan is that he raises the bar for himself.  I think Percy Jackson was so different and engaging that any book that equals it will simply not measure up.  Magnus is a good character.  He is funny, engaging, willing to do what is necessary.  But there is only one Percy.

I do mean this to say that Sword of Summer is a rip-off of the Percy Jackson series.  Magnus Chase is not a clone of Percy.  Neither is the story.  If this was the first Riordan book I read, perhaps I would say that Percy does not match up to Magnus.  It is hard to say what is “not-so-good” about this book.  All I can say is that it is not the first time I was consumed by this make-believe.

Final Thoughts

This is an enjoyable book.  I keep thinking about the Norse gods and the deeds accomplished by Magnus and friends.  Like all of Riordan’s books, Magnus makes me wonder what I would do when faced with an impossible situation.  I could not get into this book in the same way I did with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I also raced out to get the sequel when it came out.