Book 1: The Sword of Summer
Magnus Chase is a 16-year-old homeless boy trying to survive after his mother is killed by wolves in their Boston apartment. (Yes, wolves.) Some weird things start happening after he spots his cousin Annabeth Chase (sound familiar?) handing out “MISSING” flyers with his name/face on it. Then his uncle, whom his mother always said to stay away from no matter what, takes a sudden and keen interest in Magnus helping him find a particular Viking artifact. Fast-forward a few hours, and Magnus is dead.
No, that’s not a spoiler alert, Magnus actually dies in one of the first chapters, if not the first chapter. He wakes up in Valhalla (Viking heaven), an enormous magical hotel where children of Norse gods and/or brave youngsters go after death to become immortal warriors. Magnus tries to adjust to his new surroundings but realizes he is needed elsewhere after a dream visit from Loki (not this Loki). He escapes back into Midgard (the mortal world) and joins up with his two old homeless buddies Hearth and Blitz, who also happen to be part of this whole Norse mythology thing (one is a dwarf, one is an elf), as well as Sam, the Valkyrie/daughter of Loki who brought him to Valhalla and got kicked out for it. Together they seek to find an ancient sword (the artifact Magnus’ uncle wanted him to find) in order to stop — or seriously delay — the end of the world, a.k.a. Ragnarok. Typical Riordan adventures ensue.
If I weren’t such a huge fan of Vikings on History Channel/the Thor movies, I probably would have been very lost reading this book. I don’t know nearly as much about Norse mythology as I do about Greek and Roman, but I’m super-excited to learn (nerd alert!) throughout this series. Unfortunately, I actually have to read this series in real time as they are released as opposed to binge-reading all of them, like I did with Percy. Dangit!
Book 2: The Hammer of Thor
So, Magnus succeeded in his first quest to acquire that super-special sword, but that doesn’t mean all is well in Valhalla. His buddy Sam the Valkyrie has brought in another hero and another child of Loki, Alex. Since Rick Riordan is so “with it”, he made this new character gender-fluid, as in sometimes a boy and sometimes a girl, which throws everyone for a loop, especially Magnus. Sam and Alex’s dear old “dad” (you’ll see why that’s in quotes if you actually read the book) Loki starts stirring things up even more than usual, promising some earth giants that Sam will marry one of them in exchange for them giving back Thor’s beloved hammer, which has recently gone missing. But Loki’s plan is about much more than that.
Loki sends Magnus and his friends to several of the nine worlds in order to obtain another magical sword that would help free Loki from his ancient punishment, but they don’t realize that’s why they’re doing it until it’s too late. Well, almost too late. But — SPOILER ALERT! — the most exciting thing of all in this book is the very last sentence: Magnus meets up with his cousin Annabeth to discuss strategy for an upcoming battle, and she says “I think it’s time you meet Percy.” SO THE THIRD BOOK IN THIS SERIES WILL BE A PERCY-MAGNUS CROSSOVER! HOORAY!
Book 3: The Ship of the Dead
So, I was wrong about that crossover. I mean, Percy and Annabeth are in the very beginning of the book (and the very end), but not in a truly impactful capacity. Wah.
Because of Magnus and friends’ antics in the second book, Loki is now “free” and planning the end of the world accordingly. The team must now go on several mini-quests to obtain several magical items that will help Magnus defeat Loki in, get this, a battle of insults. (Yes, I realize these books are more than slightly ridiculous.) Throughout all of this book’s trials and tribulations, Magnus realizes he has romantic feelings for Alex, who if you remember is sometimes a boy and sometimes a girl. I appreciate Riordan working this kind of element into his stories because hopefully actual teenagers are reading these books (in addition to 30-year-old women such as, ahem, me) and discovering characters they can identify with.
And, this may come as a bit of a shock, but after ten Percy Jackson novels, two Trials of Apollo books and now three Magnus Chase stories, not to mention The Kane Chronicles, I am finally starting to feel like I am too old for these books. But as long as Rick keeps writing ’em, I’ll keep reading ’em, because I can’t leave anything unfinished.