Reviews

Book review: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase #2)

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Rick Riordan’s books. I am obsessed with the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series. However, you might also know that I wasn’t super impressed with his two current spin-offs, the Magnus Chase and the Trials of Apollo series. I gave both first books five stars, because they are still fantastic, but they just pale when compared to his other novels.

Now, this book completely changed my mind. While The Sword of Summer was, in my opinion, a weak start to the new series, The Hammer of Thor brought back everything I love about Rick Riordan’s writing. It’s funny, it’s interesting and fast-paced, and it’s lovingly diverse.

If you’re not aware, the Magnus Chase series is all about Norse mythology. It follows Magnus, who discovers in the first book that he is the son of Frey, a Norse god. In this sequel, Thor has lost his hammer, and now it is up to Magnus and his friends to retrieve it and stop Loki from basically destroying the world.

When I read the first few chapters I wasn’t very impressed – the humour was a bit weak, and the jokes felt slightly forced. However, I kept reading, and it paid off. The book quickly finds its way back to hilarious lines and good action, enemies with odd hobbies, and everything we love about the Percy Jackson universe.

But this instalment does not just live up to Rick’s previous works, it actually surpasses them. While we get the well-loved sense of humour and action, the characters have to deal with a variety of issues, from abusive parents to homelessness and transphobia. The book is definitely much darker than the other middle-grade Rick has written so far, and the characters seem to have grown alongside the readers. He tackles a lot of difficult subjects, and he does it really well. When Magnus realises he is the son of a Norse god, for example, it is stressed how lucky he is – most homeless people don’t get to become warriors for the Norse gods.

The book features characters from all sorts of backgrounds, and they all have different things to deal with. There is the Muslim girl who saved Magnus and brought him to Valhalla, who now has to explain her strange life to her fiancé; there is the newest addition to Magnus’ group, a genderfluid shape-shifter with a homeless past; and there is Hearth, a deaf elf, something unheard of and looked down on in his world. I loved getting to know all these characters better, exploring their motives and opinions, and seeing how, despite their differences, they became close and stood up for each other.

The darkest and most heart-breaking part of this book was definitely the visit to Hearth’s home. Being a deaf elf, he is shunned by his people, and was abused his whole life by his father. Although reading about Hearth’s childhood and hopelessness made me incredibly sad, I believe it was an important thing to include in the novel. I am not sure if some of the things in those particular chapters might be too much for a middle-grade audience (particularly servant abuse), but I think they are important, and I am glad that Rick Riordan decided to highlight those issues.

I also loved seeing the way Magnus interacts with Alex, the genderfluid character. At first I thought it was a bit idealistic to have everyone accept Alex they way he/she is (Alex dislikes the pronoun they), as non-binary people are not often well-loved. But after reading some of Magnus’ thoughts, it made perfect sense – having spent a long time being homeless, Magnus is aware that a big part of homeless teens are on the LGBT+ spectrum, and is used to being around them. Not only did this make Magnus’ behaviour seem more realistic, but it brought up an issue that isn’t discussed in fiction, especially middle-grade, very often: the problem of how many LGBT+ teens end up on the streets.

The Hammer of Thor was an absolutely fantastic read and a wonderful sequel. I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book in the series later this year, and to find out what the characters have been up to.

 

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Have you read the Magnus Chase books? Do you like them? Or do you think Rick Riordan’s writing has gone down-hill? What do you think of the representation and the more serious issues he brought up? I’d love to have a bit of a discussion, so let me know!

‘Till next time and happy reading!

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21 thoughts on “Book review: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase #2)

  1. Great review for this book Izzi, I skimmed parts of it because obviously I’m not that far into Rock Riordan’s releases and haven’t read The Sword of Summer yet, but I am so so glad you loved The Hammer of Thor even more than the first book in this series. It sounds like an incredibly diverse book, and you’re making me want to dive into both this series and The Trials of Apollo right away! I think I just need more from the world of Percy Jackson! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I don’t expect a lot of people to read this as it’s a review of a sequel and will obviously contain some spoilers! But thank you for reading parts of it anyway. 😊
      Haha I hope you enjoy both series when you get around to them! I have the second Trials of Apollo book sitting on my shelf so I’m really excited to read it soon as well. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right. I think given how much I love Rick Riordan’s books I’m hard wired to check out any reviews for them, even the books I haven’t read yet. You were very good at avoiding spoilers in my opinion! 🙂
        I’m trying to spread out my reads of his books, simply because when I am up to date I know waiting for the actual releases is going to kill me. Oh, I hope you enjoy the second ToA book as much as you did this one! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah thank you! I think some people are very sensitive when it comes to spoilers. I usually avoid major plot points/twists and endings; I think details in between aren’t really spoilers, especially if I feel like including them in my review will make people interested in the book.
          I hope so too! x

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. This book sounds rather dark. I’ve only read Lightning Thief because I didn’t like it that much. It seemed to me like it was really written to attempt to appeal to middle school boys. But this sounds like Riordan’s branched out a bit. If we’re done with the toilet humor I might be inclined to try some of his other books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Never heard of the book or of this author it sounds super interesting! And I have to say I LOVE how you put the key words or sentences in bold, it’s so much easier for me to get a sense of what the books you’re talking about are about 😛

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah sorry! There are so many things I don’t know and people are always like “whaaaaat” but I didn’t grow up in the English (literary or not) sphere at all and never really went/go for super popular books. I’m such a hipster haha.
        It definitely does!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha yeah! It’s just weird sometimes, I feel like I’m almost on the verge of “passing” culturally speaking. Like today for my traineeship the woman (“boss” — a UEA professor) was like “Whaaaaaaaat you don’t know this Young adult fiction author or any other ones, you’ll have to learn” and I was actually kinda embarrassed because it made me seem like an idiot. So I just replied “Well I went straight to French classics” when I was younger. Hahahah

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Yeah it’s fine, don’t worry 🙂 It actually gave me an idea for a blog article! Now I think I almost wish I had a Frencher accent so people know straight away who they’re talking to (someone who might not know all the popular and cultural references that they know 😛 )

                Liked by 1 person

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