I guess I don’t really have much to say about this book, except that it was exactly what I was expecting it to be, and that ended up being an okay thing. I have come to accept that Riordan is now a one-trick pony. He just happens to be very good at that one trick. You pretty much know all the beats of this story ahead of time if you’ve read his other demigod books, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying yourself anyway, and finding pleasure in the smaller moments that can’t really be predicted.
Instead of Greek or Roman or Egyptian gods, this time around we’ve got our hero Magnus finding out he’s a Norse demigod. The book also opens with his death. That’s not really a spoiler and I don’t feel bad about it. So that’s different at least. None of his other heroes have been dead before! SPOILER It also opens up with the not so unexpected reveal that he is Annabeth Chase’s cousin END SPOILER. But instead of dying and going where Norse demigods normally go, Magnus is taken directly to Valhalla due to the manner of his death (Valhalla in Riordan’s version is a magical, dimension defying hotel whose spine is made up of the World Tree). There he is to await Ragnarok with the rest of Valhalla’s residents, and not cause any trouble.
So of course he causes trouble.
Or, more accurately, trouble just comes looking for him, and he doesn’t resist it. He’s that kind of kid.
I actually really enjoyed myself while reading this book. Almost as soon as I finished the first chapter, I realized I hadn’t had this much fun reading a Riordan book since the original Percy Jackson series. The Heroes of Olympus was fun, but RR really shines when he’s writing first person. Well, first person where the MC is of a specific type (I still think the first person POVs in the Kane Chronicles were a disaster–but those books had other problems as well). Percy and Magnus are definitely distinct characters (Magnus is more world-weary, more mature right away, and his jokes are a lot more of the gallows humor variety than innocent, earnest Percy’s). But he’s really fun to read about, especially since he grabs your emotions right away with his story. He’s been living homeless on the streets for two years, since the death of his mother.
So the plot not really important. Quests and magical items and encounters with monsters and gods, blah blah, misunderstandings and destinies and prophecies, etc. But the characters just get to you man, and not just Magnus. His two best friends (who are an elf and a dwarf, unbeknownst to him) are so wonderful. There isn’t a love story! And the Valkyrie that saves him is a Muslim, who wears a hijab occasionally, and who is also a badass. Probably my favorite character was the elf, Hearthstone, who is deaf and only speaks in ASL (which does *not* stand for American). There are some truly top notch jokes involving that character and communication, but I love him because he’s so sweet and sad and kind.
I also loved that it wasn’t Magnus’s character journey to become a warrior, like we’ve seen from all Riordan’s other demigods, but to save the earth with the opposite of war, which isn’t what you’d expect.
Anyway, the more I write about this book, the more I realize I super liked it a lot. Good thing the second book is coming out pretty soon! I’m on top of it this time. (I waited soooo long to read this one! Not entirely my fault, though. I had to fight all the kids to get a copy from the library, not once but TWICE. I now perch victorious on a mountain of their unconscious bodies.)