Book Review: Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of Thor

Posted April 19, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of ThorThe Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
This mythic fantasy, urban fantasy is a hardcover edition was published by Disney-Hyperion on October 4, 2016 and has 471 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

five-stars

Other books by this author include The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian, The Red Pyramid, The Lost Hero, Cold Springs, The Throne of Fire, The Son of Neptune, The Mark of Athena, The Serpent's Shadow, House of Hades, The Blood of Olympus, The Hidden Oracle, The Sword of Summer

Second in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard mythic urban fantasy series and revolving around Magnus and his friends in Boston.

In 2017, The Hammer of Thor won the Stonewall Book Award for Children’s Literature and was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade & Children’s.

My Take

I always enjoy anything fantasy, and when Riordan combines this with all of Magnus’ snark, well, I’m in heaven, lol.

This first-person point-of-view is from Magnus’ perspective and uses Alex’s introduction to Valhalla to explore issues of gender fluidity and transgender issues. I thought Riordan did a nice job of explaining it simply enough for me to understand it and could be a useful story for kids who are gender fluid — or for parents who need to understand! I do like Riordan’s inclusiveness *grin*. One of the characters is deaf and uses ASL, so a character deaf kids can identify with.

Another theme…or should I say “caution”?…is the need to explore the fine print of a contract and thoroughly understand a culture’s customs — talk about a ticking-clock scenario! Man, are Magnus and company in for some hard decisions with that marriage contract. A quickie is that golden rule of not judging a book by its cover.

Plot coupons are rife with some help from the deus ex machina plot device. Riordan includes the villain speech, some convoluted dream sequences that combine with flashforwards, some crippling flashbacks for Magnus and Hearth (his is something of a frame story), a plot voucher arrows into Otis and intrigues Magnus, and of course, the incluing that helps us understand this world of Magnus’.

I do enjoy Riordan’s depiction of Thor and his “need” for TV. I do want Thor’s man cave, lol. Then there’s Heimdall’s obsession with selfies. I just never would’ve thought a Norse god could be so besotted with it! As for wights, a.k.a., ghouls, with their parliamentary order, ROFL. They’re all great ways to “comment” upon our modern world.

There are plots within twisty plots — on both the author’s and Loki’s sides. That Riordan is an overachiever, lol, and you’ll appreciate and be amazed at how Riordan ties it all together. Damn, that boy must’ve been plotting this out forever!

Side Note: In The Heroes of Olympus, the evil Roman emperors are back, a god fell to earth as a human, and communication for the demigods has been messed up.

Hoo, boy. Things are gonna get interesting in #3 with that surprise ending! It’s that last line of the story…oh, yeah…

The Story

The giants are rumbling and Thor’s hammer is missing. Again. If the giants get wind of it, they’ll invade Midgard.

It’s a deadline our heroes can’t miss and will require Samirha to wed a hideous being…unless they can figure a way out!

The Characters

Magnus Chase is no longer homeless. Of course, he’s no longer alive either. These days, he’s an einherji living at the Hotel Valhalla with Jack, the Sumarbrander (the Sword of Summer). His dad is Frey who fell in love with Magnus’ mom, Natalie. Uncle Randolph was Natalie’s big brother with a fascination for archeology. Randolph lost his family: Caroline and his daughters, Aubrey and Emma. Annabeth Chase (The Heroes of Olympus series) is his cousin; her mother is Athena who fell in love with Frederick.

Hearthstone, a deaf elf who does magic with runestones, and Blitzen, a fashion-conscious dwarf, were his fellow homeless. Turns out they were guarding him.

Samirah al-Abbas Bint Loki, a Muslim Valkyrie, is a child of Loki. Jid and Bibi are her grandparents. Ahmad Ibn Fadlan Ibn al-Abbas is a distant forefather of Samirah’s who had traveled with the Vikings. Amir Fadlan is her betrothed; his family runs falafel restaurants, Fadlan’s Falafel. Abdel Fadlan is his father. And just the thought of a falafel is making me hungry. Barry Al-Jabbar is her flight instructor.

Hotel Valhalla is…
…for the einherji, dead heroes who are waiting for Ragnörok. While they wait, they engage in daily battles. For EVERYthing. It’s the Norse variation on the comic book death plot device. Magnus lives on Floor 19 and his shield mates include Thomas “T.J.” Jefferson, Jr., the Irish Mallory Keen, Halfborn Gunderson (a berserker), and the latest, a shapeshifting child of Loki, Alex Fierro, who is an argr — gender fluid (doesn’t know from day-to-day which sex she’ll be) and transgender; she likes the garrote.

Helgi is the hotel manager. Hunding is the bellhop and Helgi’s “prisoner”. Saehrimnir is the feast beast. There is a thanes table that includes: Jim Bowie, Crispus Attucks, and Ernie Pyle. Charlie Flanigan loves to get shot in the head. Big Lou prefers decapitation. Dragon Thursday is when the lindworms show up for battle, including Grimwolf, who is one of the ancient ones.

Other afterlife “heavens” are Folkvanger and Niflheim; Hel is, well, Hell.

Alfheim is…
…one of the Nine Worlds and is the elf homeworld. And are they ever racist jerks!?! Alderman is Hearth’s raging a-hole of a dad. Andiron is the older brother who died; Greta had been their mother. Inge is a hulder and servant. The Makepieces are middle class elves. Sunspot and Wildflower are a couple of racist elf cops. They’ll be eatin’ crow, jerks. Turns out Frey is their patron god. The Careful One, Andvari, is an ancient elf with a whole lotta treasure including the cursed Fafnir’s Ring. Noøkks are security water sprites, a.k.a., nixies, very bad news.

D.I.C.E. stands for Dwarven Infantry Corps of Engineers.

The Norse Gods
The Æsir are gods of war and the Vanir are gods of nature. Thor is the god of thunder with his signature tool, his hammer, Mjolnir (a.k.a., Mee-Mee), which is always getting lost. Otis (call me…Otis…) and Marvin are the goats who pull his chariot and whom Thor eats every night. Sif, a goddess of the earth and growing things, is Thor’s wife. Uller is her son by her first husband. Bilskirnir, Bright Crack, is their home palace. Odin, the All-Father, is their leader. Huginn and Muninn are ravens, Thought and Memory. Tyr is the god of bravery and personal combat; Frey is Magnus’ dad and the god of summer and fertility; Mimir is the disembodied god head who runs an inter-world pachinko racket; and, Heimdall, a son of Odin and nine mothers, is the god who guards Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard, and is the guardian of the marriage bed. He can hear and see into all Nine Worlds and is obsessed with selfies. The horn he carries is Gjallar; it also functions as a Phablet of Doomsday. Vidar, a.k.a., the Silent One, is the god of vengeance. GRRM is the God Rapid Response Mobilization team, god SWAT. Ran is a sea goddess they had trouble with in The Sword of Summer, 1.

Loki is the god of mischief…and not the nice kind. That’s why he’s chained up with venom dripping into his face. Unfortunately he has other skills. Fenris Wolf is one of his children. The long-suffering Sigyn is his wife. Naglfar is the Ship of Nails. No. Not the kind you use a hammer on.

Jotunheim is…
…the world of giants. Thrym is the son of Thrym who is the son of Thrym (this last is the legendary earth giant king). Thrynga is his conniving sister. They live in their version of the Cheers bar. Utgard-Loki, Loki of the Outlands, is a sorcerer giant and king of the mountain giants. The bowlers include Tiny, Hugo, and Herg and Blerg (the Turkey Bowlers team) and humiliation is the name of the game.

Gellir, prince of the Danes, son of Thorkel, is a draugr, the chief wight, who carries the notorious Skofnung Sword with his own wight bodyguards who insist on the Thing…CRACK. Me. Up. Pee before reading. Arvid and Knut like to knit, and Dagfinn likes to be secretary. The Skofnung Stone is a companion piece to the sword.

Midgard is earth. Yggdrasil is the World Tree, the highway to the Nine Worlds. Ratatosk is the squirrel who takes messages up and down Yggdrasil. Draugr are Norse zombies. Miss Mengler had been a nasty, rigid second-grade teacher; Mr. Gent had been his shop teacher. Stanley is an eight-legged, flying horse; Sleipnir was the original one.

The Cover and Title

The cover is colorful with its electric green highlighting Thor’s face on one side of the relic? and Loki’s on the other. Yellow and orange lightning flares are shooting out below them, and Magnus, in jean jacket and jeans, holds his glowing Sumarbrander and stands atop a snow-covered, deep blue mountain ridge. The author’s name is in red at the top against a deep green smoky background. The series information (I HATE that Riordan always emphasizes the series name and not the title of the book!!) is HUGE and in metallic silver. The title is very tiny at the very bottom of the cover, also in silver.

The title is the whole point, The Hammer of Thor.

five-stars

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