The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, book one)
By Rick Riordan
Published 2015 by Disney Hyperion Books
When Magnus discovers that he's the son of a Norse god, things quickly go from bad to worse. When his decision to protect innocent lives leads to his own death, it's really only the beginning of an unbelievable journey. Magnus must recover the Sword of Summer and keep it safe from those with nefarious purposes.
Here's the tl;dr version of this review: I did not enjoy this book. Like, at all.
Here's the longer version: I, like most people, eagerly anticipated the newest title from Riordan. I've read every middle-grade book he's written so far and very much enjoyed them all. I was thrilled to hear his newest series would incorporate Norse mythology - I know very little about it, but what I do know has definitely intrigued me. So, imagine my surprise when I cracked open this first entry in that new series and could only manage to read a chapter at a time. And that 4-5 page chapter would take me 30 minutes - if you read this blog, I assume you realize that, in order to read the quantity of books I do every year, I generally read a lot faster than that. Huge feeling of disappointment.
So why didn't I enjoy this one? It is much slower-moving than his previous books - I would go so far as to use the word "boring." Riordan's signature use of cliffhangers at the end of each chapter just weren't as engaging this time around as they've been in the past.
Perhaps contributing to the slow pace of this one was the fact that I really did not connect with any of the characters here - even Annabeth's appearances seemed bland in comparison to the character I've enjoyed in several other titles. I found Magnus to be uninteresting and frustrating at times. His companions are all infinitely more intriguing than he is; probably not a good sign of things to come.
The biggest flaw for me, though, was how awkward the incorporation of the mythology felt in this one. I know a little about Norse mythology, but not a lot - and even if I knew a lot, past Riordan titles indicated that I would discover much more in this book. Wrong. I'm not sure I could tell you one thing I learned about Norse mythology from reading this book. The introductions of mythological beings and the myths themselves didn't flow with the rest of the story as smoothly as they have in the past. It felt awkward and intrusive and not engaging at all.
In all likelihood, I will still read the second in the series; mostly because my husband enjoyed this more than I did and will want to read it (so if it's already around, I might as well read it too). Hopefully it won't take me two months to read like this one did.