Book Review: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Author: Rick Riordan
Title: The Sword of Summer
Narrator: Christopher Guetig
Publication Info: Listening Library (2015)

Magnus Chase is a 16-year-old boy who’s lived on the streets of Boston for 2 years since his mother was killed in a supernatural attack.  He’s avoided his estranged Uncle Randolph, who lives in a Back Bay mansion opposite the Leif Erikson statue and is obsessed with Viking artifacts, but as the book begins Magnus is forced into contact with his uncle.  This unleashes a series of events where Boston is attacked by fire giants and Magnus dies in battle.  And that’s just the beginning.

Much like Rick Riordan’s books about Camp Half Blood where Greco-Roman myths are real and demigods are trained on Long Island, The Sword of Summer incorporates Norse myth.  In fact, the two series are in the same universe as Magnus is cousins with Annabeth Chase of the Camp Half Blood books!  We follow Magnus as he is brought to Valhalla, learns of his godly parentage, and goes rogue on a quest to prevent Ragnarok, or the apocalypse.  I think Riordan is even more clever in how he winds Norse myth into a young adult fantasy adventure, and most of all this book is funny as Helheim.

Magnus travels with a great team including the Muslim Valkyrie Samirah “Sam” al-Abbas from Dorchester, Blitzen, a dwarf with a great sense of fashion, and the deaf and magical elf Hearthstone.  I’m definitely biased, but I love how Boston is set as the “hub” of the Norse worlds and that many scenes are set in Boston, or in an alternate version of the city.  Although it should be noted that Eben Norton Horsford’s discredited theory of  Norse navigators sailing up the Charles River were rooted in the white supremacist belief that an Italian like Christopher Columbus was unworthy to be the person who “discovered” the Americas.

I think this is my favorite Riordan book yet, and I look forward to continuing the trilogy of Magnus’ adventures.

Rating: ****

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