The Magnus Chase series, which revolves around Norse mythology, is complete with fast-paced action and gripping storylines. But is it worth your child's time and your money? Find out from a teen!
By Vanshika Devuni Kalanidhi
Rick Riordan got me to like history! The first series I read by him was his classic ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’. From then on, I have troubled everybody I know by telling them about random Greek myths. I raced through his follow up series, Heroes of Olympus, and Magnus Chase, a series revolving around Norse mythology. And, I admit, the Magnus Chase books have me hooked.
The Magnus Chase book series offers a mixed bag. While some people like it, some people don’t. I personally like the Magnus Chase trilogy. Here’s my take on this series.
Plot: Magnus Chase, a homeless teen on the streets of Boston, finds out he’s the son of the Norse God Frey. After his death following an encounter with a jotun (fire giant), he is taken to Valhalla, an afterlife for undead warriors. He is given a mission to rebind Fenris, a deadly wolf that can start the apocalypse.
This book doesn’t come close to Percy Jackson’s greatness, but I guess it’s a fair effort. Riordan uses the same formula in all his books – a snarky protagonist finding out about his connection to an ancient deity, and is sent on a quest to do the impossible. This gets boring after a while, but it’s not bad if this is the first Rick Riordan book series you’re reading.
Our choices can alter the details of fate
I also like that he personifies the ancient Gods. We can see their victories and failures, regrets and motives, through the way they behave.
One line I particularly like is “The thing about fate, Magnus: even if we can’t change the big picture, our choices can alter the details. That’s how we rebel against destiny, how we make our mark.” This line is a good spin on the overused ‘prophecy’ trope used by practically every fantasy novel.
Plot: Thor’s hammer is missing! The jotnar (fire giants) suspect that Thor cannot defend his realm against them. In order to stop all-out chaos, Magnus and friends have to find his Hammer, but are met with complications on the way.
My favourite among the three books
This is my favorite Magnus Chase book, simply because of Alex Fierro. Alex is a child of Loki, and is brave, sarcastic and resourceful (and Magnus’s love interest). Alex is also gender-fluid. I applaud Riordan for making the effort to represent more kids in his series. His books are wildly popular and reach a large audience. I’m glad he’s using his platform to normalise marginalised communities, cultures and disabilities.
Other than including a gender-fluid person, this book also hosts a practising Muslim main characters (like Samirah Al-Abbas), a deaf elf (Hearthstone), black characters (Blitzen and TJ), and a pansexual protagonist (Magnus). This representation is important so that kids grow to accept their peers, and also so that kids can learn about their identities quicker. I like that he’s trying to do this; kids shouldn’t have to find out their identity from the punch line of a joke or a shocking headline.
My favorite moments in this book are when Alex’s personality is explored more, and seeing Samirah and Alex interact with each other.
Plot: Alex and Magnus find some old notes scribbled in Magnus’s uncle’s house. Alex feels these notes hold the key to defeating Loki, the trickster God, hell-bent on causing the apocalypse. Magnus and crew use a ship to go on a quest to stop this from happening.
I need to talk about representation a little more – Samirah fasts for Ramadan throughout the book, and teaches the reader about why Ramadan is practiced. I learnt a lot because of that!
Central theme revolves around friendship
I like the central theme of friendship in this book. Magnus loves all his friends, and whether it’s platonic or romantic, love is love. His friends are whom he relies on. He can count on them, always. This love for his friends plays a major role in the final battle.
The final battle was beautifully written, and I teared up reading it. The words have power and emotion, and the revelations are shocking. This was one of the better-written books I read, particularly towards the second half.
I recommend this series to everyone. If you haven’t read the Percy Jackson series, its’s something fresh and funny. Even if you have, cameos from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, make you feel nostalgic.
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