The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan
The Sword of Summer
Disney Hyperion
528 pages
8.6 (Best New Book)

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 a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man 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 . . .

Riordan exactly knows how to spoil me. Making yet another story based on world myth? Check. A witty and hilarious protagonist with sardonic way of narration? Check. Endorsing Taylor Swift's 1989? Check check check. How the Hel (no pun intended) does Riordan know that I'm a closet case of being Swifties

Riordan still uses his old formula and repeats it all over again, yet I keep buying his books and reading them like there's no tomorrow. Riordan's formula magically always works. I've never felt exhausted after reading Riordan's books, even though all the tropes he's used have been recycled over and over again like an old newspaper. 

The Sword of Summer still follows typical Riordan-esque premise. A young juvenile who never realized that he's a son of Norse god, and his mother died. So, when Magnus Chase figured out that he's no ordinary teenage boy, his adventure began. He traveled around Nine Worlds, to finish a quest (yes, another quest), to stop a doomsday (yes, another doomsday). 

See? You may have heard that kind of premise in Percy Jackson and the OlympiansThe Heroes of Olympus, and heck The Kane Chronicles. You will find similar theme on The Magnus Chase. But, somehow, Riordan is such a trickster and he casts some kind of sorcery that I don't know of to make his books feel refreshing. 

It's probably the characters, even though Magnus Chase is just like a carbon copy of Percy Jackson in terms of stupidity, ignorance, and humor. But, Magnus Chase is the hero that we can relate to. He's only your usual guy, you'll never look at him twice, but he's got some hidden power that you probably covet. You may sometimes envy him. Nevertheless, the formula once again works like a charm. Not only Magnus Chase, Riordan also creates a Muslim (?--with a question mark as I'm not sure if she's religious or not. Believing another god--let alone Norse gods can be considered as a blasphemous act, but I'll leave the details for now) girl character. I can say that Riordan's decision is--well--interesting. Especially when Riordan wittily connects Sam's Iranian ancestors with Norse settlements in Northern Europe. But, afterall Riordan is known with creating a minority characters--we have Chinese-Canadian Frank Zhang and native Indian-American Piper McLean from Heroes of Olympus. I am fully aware that Riordan has personal mission to make his books can reach more people--not only a white teenage privileged American. 

The remaining characters provide comic relief, and I never expect to find that a sword is the most hilarious and funny character in the book. Some of the laid-back gods are also funny, yet some of the creepy gods are eerily plain and boring. Yes, Hel, I'm looking at you. 

I am brought up with Shin Megami Tensei games--Persona, Devil Survivors, Shin Megami Tensei itself--and Norse gods have become the important summon on those games. I know Loki, Thor, Skadi, Heimdall, Nidhoggr, Valkyrie, Surt, etc., but I've never bothered to learn the complete myth myself. Riordan probably knows my negligence and yes, he makes another rip-off of Norse myth so that ignorant people like me can learn and understand the Norse myth. The result is magnificent. Riordan forced me to open Wikipedia page, and read the complete story of the myth (I know, I know Wikipedia is not a complete source of learning Norse myth, but at least it's been summarized and well-indexed). I can say that Norse myth is really fascinating. Not only it is the only myth in the world where the gods will kill each other, the concept of Nine Worlds dangling in a super-giant Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, is incredibly well-thought. I should give credit to Norse people. 

Well, after I read my review above, it seems that I don't write anything useful. It's just a pointless rambling about the books, it has no point. But, well, it's my habit that comes whenever I reviewed Riordan's books. I will be squealing, fan-boying, and shouting just becaus it fulfills my guilty pleasure. Riordan's books will get a perfect score on "My-Good-Guilty-Pleasure-Books" list. It doesn't provide something new, unless you count making story based on Norse myth is new. But, Riordan has proven once again that he's a master at twisting and crafting the words, making The Sword of Summer fresh, and somewhat bearable and not cringe-worthy. 

Oh, and yeah, I'm not kidding about Taylor Swift's 1989 endorsement.

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