January 21, 2016

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 5:01 am by suebe2

The Sword of Summer
Book 1 in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
by Rick Riordan

Life isn’t easy on the streets but Magnus has been homeless for two years.  He knows who will give him food, where to find a mostly safe place to sleep and how to avoid the cops.  Then one of his friends hands him a missing person flier.  Magnus can’t believe it.  After two years, his uncle is looking for him.

Magnus spies on his uncle and his cousin Annabeth but his mother told him to avoid her brothers.  He doesn’t really know why but he decides that he needs to know what is going on and breaks into his uncle’s house.

Uncle Randolph catches him in the house and starts to tell him about their family’s history.  They are descended from Vikings.  There is a missing sword.  The only one who can find it is Magnus and, fortunately, the sword is in the Boston area, just a few blocks away.

Soon Magnus finds himself on a bridge holding a corroded piece of metal.  His uncle claims it is an ancient sword and it is all Magnus has to fend off the deadly fire giant that is standing right in front of him.  When his attempt to dice up the giant fails, Magnus’ soul is snatched up by a Valkeyrie who takes him to Asgard.  If he can prove he is a hero, he will have a place there.  If not . . . he doesn’t even want to consider the alternative.

If this sounds a lot like Percy Jackson, don’t be shocked.  Riordan has found his niche and young readers love him for it.  Although Percy Jackson is all about the Greek gods and Magnus Chase is about the Norse, the two worlds overlap.  Annabeth, Magnus’ cousin, is Annabeth daughter of Athena from Percy Jackson.  If you’re expecting the book to be 100% original, you might be disappointed.  Instead, go into it understanding that the two series overlap.

As always, the story is full of Riordan’s quirky brand of humor.  His secondary characters especially seem to be designed to make us laugh. My favorite? Half Born the Beserker.  Or maybe Loki.  His Loki is very bit the amazing trickster that I expected — alluring, coniving and just a little scary.  Riordan has done an admirable job in creating a full range of characters so that both boys and girls will be drawn into the story.  Share it with the young fantasy lover in your life.




March 17, 2014

Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:28 am by suebe2

Loki’s Wolves
by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Matt’s known for as long as he can remember that he is a descendent of Thor.  In fact, many of the people in Blackwell, South Dakota are descended from either Thor or Loki.  Matt’s glad that he’s one of Thor’s own — because it means that he’s someone the town looks up to.  He can also harness his anger and call on Thor’s Hammer, an electric-like blow.  But there’s a down side as well.  Matt’s always worried that his grades aren’t good enough and that if he does even the smallest thing wrong, someone will call him on it and tell his father, the town’s sheriff.  If only he could figure out how to deal with the town’s trouble makers, the descendants of Loki.

Fen and Laurie are two of those descendents.  Fen is old enough that he has turned into a wolf which means that he has to join the local pack of raiders or pay dues for himself and for Laurie.  Laurie has never changed into a wolf, not all of Loki’s descendents can, so she doesn’t know it’s possible.  She also doesn’t know what Fen is or that he is paying dues for both of them.

Then an announcement is made at a town festival.  The end of the world, Ragnarök, is coming.  Descendents of the gods must ban together to fight the monsters.  Matt can’t believe it when he is named for Thor.  Why didn’t they pick someone older or bigger or just better?  Then he overhears enough to know that no one expects him to survive.  His family is sending him off to save the world, yes, but also to die.

The first descendent that he finds is the descendent of Loki.  Fen and Laurie are together when Matt finds them and Laurie insists on accompanying the boys.  Her problem solving skills immediately prove useful and then they realize that she can also locate the other descendents.  Still, everything isn’t as it seems and Matt has some tough decisions to make.  Who can he trust?  His instincts tell him to trust Fen even if Loki betrayed the gods during the last battle. I’ve only touched on the wide cast of characters.  Matt assembles a group of seven characters, just enough for cliques to begin to form.

This story is an amazing blend of Norse myth and contemporary fantasy.  With both strong male and female characters it is well suited for both boy and girl readers.  Although there are some hints of romance, who likes who, this is solidly a middle grade fantasy suitable for readers from 8 to 12 years old.

I have to admit that half the reason I like this book so much is that all of Loki’s descendents aren’t wicked.  I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki because I love trickster characters in general (think Iktomi and Coyote).  In Loki’s Wolves, many of the  descendents get in trouble with the law and are highly impulsive which often gets them into trouble.  They are also capable of siding against other Wolves as Laurie and Fen do when they side with Matt when he first encounters the raiders.

Readers of Rick Riordan’s books will be drawn into this series as well.


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