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Book Review:

Ever watched those movies and read books depicting the life of Vikings? Perhaps bore witness to shirtless black-metal-looking Northerner dudes in anachronistic crotch flaps and leather harnesses? (Vikings, I love you to the ends of the earth and there is no way I can ever get tired of you but dearie me, there is no saving your fashion!) The ladies and gentlemen in horned helmets and bad hygiene? Granted, it’s an unspoken truth that the latter statement is absolute Wagnerian BS and Saxon propaganda (perhaps it’s just the salty English monks whose monasteries got raided?)–but how about the Norse gods and the Nine Worlds? And not to mention, were the rest of the gods as well-known as Odin, Thor and Loki? If you think you’re good at mythology, name other gods aside from those three–they can take a backseat for all I care.

Give up? No problem. I also started out that way. Now, try to imagine this supernatural Norse world—only that it’s modern, and in Boston, of all places. Insert a homeless, sixteen-year-old pickpocketer with a near-unbreakable love for falafel, and (drum roll) you get Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.

If you’re not a fan of spoilers, I don’t think you should read this blog. Or if you’re curious…well, may the god of blogs and spoilers have mercy on you, puny mortal (sorry).

Introducing the new-and-halfway-improved Kurt Cobain!

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is narrated by Magnus Chase himself, and the story begins with his agonizing death as a free pass to the afterlife equivalent of Camp Half-Blood (or Jupiter?), Hotel Valhalla. Along the way with his intrepid sidekicks Blitzen and Hearthstone, and Valkyrie Samirah al-Abbas, they break a few…dozen rules in Valhalla, put the others’ lives at stake, and at the end, save the world anyway. Just like any other Riordan book, MCGA is action-packed and notoriously funny, and is filled with quests, a few bloodthirsty monsters and tyrannical deities on the side, a dash of swearing (a mighty achievement for a Riordan mythos novel!) and—again—closely linked to the world of Percy Jackson, plus the usual prophecies. And like any other book, there’s the usual clueless hero, the badass girl, and the guy who…well, is pretty much the sidekick (or in Magnus’s case, two sidekicks). The difference: the main character is a much darker example of Percy Jackson or any Riordan hero you come across—angsty, bitter, resentful and…ding, ding, ding! Prone to a lot of cursing, which is quite unusual in Uncle Rick’s books. And even better, not even a frontlining fighter, but a sidelining sort.  Another good example is how instead of enduring torture while alive, you die all day every day…which is oddly a normal occurrence for them. (Taco Bell to the death, anyone?)

Moving on to my opinion, I am very sorry to compare this but it caught my attention way better than Percy Jackson and the rest of the Seven did, combined with the Kane Chronicles. I don’t know how, but it’s probably my love for pointless historical bonkadonks linked to the pre-Viking era (explanation for another time!) the reference from famous shows and—oh, Thor, yes!—the internet memes. It may be the fact that it’s less corny, or the talking sword (sorry, Riptide) and the sass and sarcasm levels breaking the charts. As much as I love the previous series, I could relate more with Magnus Chase and his crazy Norse adventures, maybe because it had a very modern feel to it. Imagine a sword who sings Top 40 songs off-key, a dwarf promoting a fashion line, a thunder god who farts every few minutes, and the doorman of Valhalla taking selfies on his cosmic iPad.

For any of you who are unfamiliar with Norse mythology and those with a sense of humor, this is more than highly recommended. And if you are prone to getting easily addicted, just don’t try to purposefully die in agony in order to get into Valhalla…it won’t work. Trust me.

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