First, I’ve gotta say that I’m glad I got the Barnes and Noble exclusive on this one; the Norse insult generator in the back is fun if a little limited.
So overall, the third book in the Magnus Chase series is pretty standard Rick Riordan fun. There’s plenty of action, and some touching moments mixed in. Seriously, if you don’t at least internally have an ‘awww’ moment when Hearthstone gets his othala rune back, there is something wrong with you. That part of the story might be about as close as I’ve ever come to tearing up while reading, and I never do that. There’s battle in the literal sense as well as the intellectual sense.
I really liked the chance to get to know some of Magnus’ gang a little better, and getting some real backstory on Alex Fierro was a long time coming. The only major problem character-wise was the lack of Sam. Even when she was there, she didn’t really do a whole lot. The running comments about her fasting for Ramadan made sense at first, but became rather unnecessary after a while, and started to sound like a reason for not a lot of Samirah action.
There was kind of a similar problem with Magnus. The running gag about his lack of intelligence serves as an excuse to define Norse mythological events and terms, but it gets a little old after a while. Once or twice, especially considering the quest for Kvasir’s Mead, would be humorous, but it keeps getting brought up. And getting old.
The Percy Jackson-Magnus Chase crossover early in the book was also kind of fun to see, but it seemed a little forced, especially in terms of snappy dialogue. Riordan’s proved he’s really good at that in other books, but it seems to be missing from this one. I mean, there’s a flyting with Loki towards the end. Admittedly, Magnus’ response to that challenge was pretty ingenious (which to be fair may have been mead-inspired) but there’s was such an opportunity there for word-play and it wasn’t taken. I also have to wonder where the requisite Beatles reference was when Mikillgulr gets its name. I mean not only would it have been fitting, but the opportunity for an earworm type joke that obvious should not be passed up.
Then there’s the question of the ending; on the one hand, it’s conclusive, but on the other it’s not. The story ends, after the usual celebratory banquet and rewards, with a teaser about Annabeth and Percy, but seems to be fairly complete for this sequence. So it’s either the end of the arc or this series, and it could be either, or it’s just a set up for the new Apollo book due out some time in May 2018.