I just finished book two of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Series by Rick Riordan, The Hammer of Thor. I love basically every single thing that Rick Riordan writes. More than that, I am currently obsessed with Norse mythology. Like his other works, Magnus is the son of a Norse god Frey. He has to deal with various gods (who mess with his life), he has to go on quests to fix the god’s mistakes, and he has to thwart Ragnarok.
“Just like the good old days: marching together into the unknown, searching for missing magical weapons and risking painful death. I’d missed my buddies!”
The second installment was much like the first in that Magnus was up against some impossibilities in order to prevent Ragnarok. When the book opens, Hearthstone, the elf, and Blitzen, the dwarf, are in hiding, and Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, is still missing. Sam, the Valkyrie, requests Magnus meet her for coffee and talking to an informant. Sam leaves to deal with a death heroic death. Magnus meets with Otis, one of Thor’s magical goats. The goat gets killed, Magnus chases the killer, and Sam takes the hero to Valhalla.
Later when Magnus meets the hero, he learns that the hero is another child of Loki and gender fluid. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Alex is Riordan’s first gender fluid character. Riordan explains non-binary persons in a way that is understandable. Personally, I am ecstatic that Riordan is introducing kids (and adults) to such diverse individuals in a way that is respectful, but also explanatory. I hope that kids (and adults) read these books and understand and accept that differences make us stronger.
“I’ll admit that I was staring. Suddenly my whole perspective had flipped inside out, like when you look at an inkblot picture and see just the black part. Then your brain inverts the image and you realize the white part makes an entirely different picture, even though nothing has changed. That was Alex Fierro, except in pink and green. A second ago, he had been very obviously a boy to me. Now she was very obviously a girl.”
A lot of parents out there will not approve of these introductions. The only thing I have to say to those parents is that these stories are real. Well, obviously not these specific stories. To my knowledge, there are not children of Norse gods running around Boston trying to prevent Ragnarok. What I mean to say is these characters, ones who have been neglected and mistreated by family, children who are LGBTQ+ and are scorned, children who lose their families and must live on the streets, those stories are real. This world will benefit from more love, respect, and acceptance.
I am probably asking too much of a children/young adult series. When reading Riordan, I expect something action packed with enough mythos to keep it new and exciting. The Hammer of Thor delivers. Magnus encounters gods both prominent and obscure. He travels to a few different realms in the Nine Worlds. Magnus is sarcastic as ever. No one writes a better chapter title than Riordan. For example,“You Keep Using the Word Help. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means,” “Relax, It’s Just a Little Death Prophecy,” and “My Friends Protect Me by Telling Me Absolutely Nothing. Thanks, Friends.” Finally, the ending sets up the premise of the third book in the series, The Ship of the Dead.