Sunday, November 13, 2016

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends! The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard 2) by Rick Riordan

When choosing an afterlife, it's important to consider location.

Valhalla's Midgard entrance is right in the heart of the city, across from Boston Common--easy walking distance of the best restaurants, and less than a minute from the Park Street T-station.

Yes, Valhalla. For all your Viking paradise needs.

Magnus Chase, demi-god son of the Norse deity, Frey, god of spring and healing, has barely convalesced from his untimely death at the hands of a fire god, recovering the lost Sword of Summer and saving the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology. Reborn an einharjar, an undead hero, Magnus is trying to adjust from being a homeless teenager to living at the posh Valhalla hotel. Unfortunately, along with the major perks of herohood, he has to live in a hotel full of  hyper teen deities who live for warfare. Charged with eternal training for Ragnarok, the final battle, the einharji stage a training battle royal every afternoon, in which all the dead are reborn again by dinnertime.

Valhalla, where Muslims and atheists alike go to enjoy a Pagan afterlife.

The Valhalla lunch buffet was a lot like a middle school cafeteria full of bullies--only the confrontations were only temporarily fatal.

But the daily slaughter routine seems like a walk in Boston Public Garden for Magnus, when he is summoned to yet another grand mission, to locate Thor's hammer (which he has misplaced again), necessary to preventing the Giants of Jotunheim from starting Ragnarok, the death battle of the entire Nine Worlds, where it is safe to say we're all gonna die. And nobody wants that.

With aid once more of his friend and elfin runemeister Hearthstone, the fashion savvy dwarf Blitzen, his personal valkyrie Samirah, and a new einharjar recruit, Alex Fiero, the unwilling Magnus finds himself once more zipping between the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, finally zooming in on the likely location of Thor's Hammer, deep in the earth in the caves beneath Veil Bridal Falls. Coincidentally, the giant Thrum the Third, wants a bride and full-dress wedding in that romantic spot, and only the valkyrie Samirah will serve. Samirah has no desire to be a crude giant's consort, and besides, she has a boyfriend she hopes to marry when she turns 18.

Conveniently, Samirah and Alex are both demi-god children of Norse trickster god, Loki, and thanks to her deity DNA, Alex is a talented shape-shifter, so they agree to change places, with Samirah along as bridesmaid, and Magnus and Co. along as groomsmen, with a shaky plan to send Thor their GPS location where Thor's hammer is buried.  It's risky business, but--hey! That's the price you pay for immortal herohood!

There was more to this wedding deal than getting Thor's hammer back. Loki had a plan within a plan. If only I could find a moment to gather my thoughts without being pulled from one life-threatening problem to another....

Yeah, right. You have just described your entire life and afterlife, Magnus.

In Rick Riordan's newest in his top-selling demi-god series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2 The Hammer of Thor (Hyperion Books, 2016), Riordan takes his peace-loving Magnus into yet another epic battle of the titans, with the goal of avoiding the apocalyptic Ragnarok, the battle that ends it all, even for (Yikes!) us, we mere mortals of Midgard. Who wouldn't root for Magnus, our everyteen Norse hero, as he fearfully but faithfully soldiers on with his destiny.

The author's style of narration is, as always, on the ADHD side, with characters careening around the wide-screen Norse universe from one killer Viking deity to the next, chapter after chapter--a formula which seems to fit his readers' taste to a T (for terror.) Magnus Chase and his cadre of cohorts are reluctant and thoughtful heroes (when they get the chance), and Riordan's snappy, sarcastic and snarky dialogue is perfect for his readership, who like a quick quip along with juicy gamer gore in their novels.

As a teaser to the fans of his several series, the author even closes with the promise of a reunion cameo from Magnus' cousin Annabeth Chase, the demi-goddess of Camp Halfblood fame, who promises to bring along her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, the hero of the Percy Jackson and The Gods of Olympus series. Yes, dear Riordan readers. Our Worlds Are Colliding!

As Booklist testifies, "Norse myths are in right now, and Riordan has the magic touch."

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