This book was an entertaining read and I’m in no way dissing Rick Riordan. He’s one of the top-selling authors of 2016, with a eye-watering US$9.5 million in earnings. He’s doing many, many things super-right.
Naturally, I’d like to know what just a few of them are!
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer is Book #1 of the Gods of Asgard Series. The thing that struck me as I read this was the definite similarity to Riordan’s best-selling Percy Jackson series. And why not? It worked once.
Heck – it’s working again.
And why? Because the premise is a good one, but Riordan changes things enough that we’re not bored.
So – similarities
Both books are based on mythologies that have stood the test of centuries. Instant intrigue. Just add water. Except Riordan takes these myths and builds his own brand of awesome into them. Like the Hotel Valhalla. Gold. There’s no lazy world-stealing here. Riordan is world-building like crazy.
Magnus and Percy both have gods for dads, humans for mums. And they don’t know anything about this until the book starts.
Something powerful involving their father was lost and they are the only ones who can retrieve it.
Hardly anyone in the new ‘mythical’ world they find themselves in really believes they deserve to be there.
They both have male friends in the human world who turn out to be non-humans sent to look after them, and join them on their quest.
They both join up with a girl they meet in the mythical world, who also joins them on their quest.
They both show great bravery, and get recognition from peers and fathers.
Essentially, the Hero’s Journey. With added sass and humour.
And now, the differences
Magnus is older than Percy, although the plot is not aimed at older readers. Smart. Percy readers get older, they want to read about someone older. But by not adding in any sex or drugs or heavy themes, Magnus is still open to all readers. And I applaud the use of a homeless person as a main character.
The obvious difference? Magnus is the son of a Norse God, and Percy springs from the loins of the Greek Gods. Luckily, lately I’ve been reading the fab picture book The Last Viking to my four-year-old daughter, and it’s turned out to be an excellent intro into Norse gods. And it also helps prove the point to me. History holds so many rich myths, why not build on these in our stories?
The nitty gritty of the plots are different. These aren’t the same book. Just remarkably similar is several areas.
Finally, what have I learned?
‘If you on a good thing, stick to it’ and ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ aren’t sayings for nothing.
You can take inspiration from myths and history but do it with flair – make it truly your own.
And finally, I love characters who don’t take themselves seriously. :o)