Thursday, December 28, 2017

Oh, Looky! It's Loki on the Loose! The Ship of the Dead: Magnus Chase and Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan.

Magnus Chase is still dead.

"Try it again!" Percy Jackson told me. This time with less dying."

Standing on the yardarm of the USS Constitution, looking down at Boston Harbor two hundred feet below, I wished I had the natural defenses of a turkey buzzard. Then I could projectile vomit on Percy and make him go away. The last time he'd made me jump I'd broken every bone in my body. My friend Alex Fierro had rushed me back to the Hotel Valhalla just in time for me to die in my own bed.

Unfortunately, I was an einharji, one of Odin's immortal warriors. I couldn't die permanently as along as I expired within Valhalla. I woke up as good as new. Now here I was again, ready for more pain. Hurray!

"Look, Magnus," Percy told me. "You'll be sailing across hostile territory. A bunch of sea monsters and sea gods and who-knows-what-else will be trying to kill you. At some point you're going to get thrown off the boat. You'll need to know how to survive the impact and get back to the surface ready to fight. That's going to be tough, especially in cold water."

Easy for you to say, Magnus thinks. Percy is the demi-god son of Poseidon. Icy oceans are his thing. But Magnus Chase is the son of Frey, Norse god of summer. Diving from the mast of Old Ironsides into Boston Bay in winter is not part of his resume'.

But Percy and Magnus's cousin demi-goddess Annabeth have come to Boston, the semi-secret site of Valhalla, to help him train for his next task, re-chaining the evil Norse deity, Loki. It's no minor mission. Loki is on the loose and is readying his cursed ship Naglfar for a voyage that promises to set off Ragnarok, the Day of Doom in which the einharjar will confront Loki in a twilight of the gods battle that will end the world.

So, no pressure.

The quest starts off well enough, and with Magnus using his father's enchanted handkerchief, which, when dipped in sea water, becomes an extreme version of a Viking warship, and with a little help from his friends, fellow einharjars Alex Fiero and Thomas Jefferson, Jr., defrocked Valkyrie Samirah, and his former homeless associates, the elf Hearthstone and dwarf Blitzen, and of course his snarky but effective Summer Sword, (a.k.a. Jack), the reconstituted longboat sets sail. But Magnus and Company soon run afoul of Aegir, lord of the waves and his seven giant wave daughters, who threaten to sink the mission before it even gets clear of Boston Harbor. It looks like a deadly drowning for all within their icy maelstrom, but Magnus utters a quick prayer for help to his father Frey. Frey seems to be out of town, but Magnus gets the next best thing, his grandfather Njord, who saves the ship and crew. Njord's advice is for Magnus to defeat Loki in a flyte, a deadly Norse duel of insults, winner take all--or maybe Ragnarok take all.

So, again, no pressure for our favorite undead teen, cum Viking hero, Magnus Chase.

Rick Riordan's latest book, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3 The Ship of the Dead (Disney Hyperion Press, 2017), features a cameo from Percy Jackson, hero of the perennially best-selling Percy Jackson and the Gods of Olympus series. As always, there's a plenty of adolescent quips and angst, sort of a snarky sturm und drang on steroids, with a seemingly endless supply of assorted monsters, evil and clumsy gods, giants, and other mythological bad guys, as Magnus and his band of brothers (and sisters) prevail in the ongoing quest to quell evil. After all, the alternative is Ragnarok, and nobody wants that. As always, author Riordan endears himself to English teachers of classic mythology by appending a glossary of Norse deities and vocabulary and a pronouncing dictionary of names of gods, giants, and places.

Already a best-seller, this one is a sure-fire read for fans of author Rick Riordan's assorted novels of young heroes in his various tales of the intersection of modern life with ancient mythologies, including the Kane Chronicles, featuring a young teen brother and sister and the various Egyptian deities, his Greek god spinoff series, The Trials of Apollo, featuring a demoted-to-mortal sixteen-year-old Apollo somewhere in middle America, and the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

For a quick background on the Gods of Asgard series so far, see my reviews of the two previous books, here.

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