The following review contains MINOR spoilers from The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan.
Age Range: Children-Teen
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology (specifically Norse Mythology)
Ah, Rick Riordan. Dubbed “storyteller of the gods” by Publishers Weekly. Well, time for some new titles that are definitely deserved: Lord of the Cliffhangers, Master of Laughter (as Jack would say, Hey that rhymes!), Legendary Character Developer (Hey that rhymes too!), King of References, and finally, Doom of Fangirls.
Those titles essentially sum up any Riordan novel out there, and The Hammer of Thor is no exception.
Before I get into the synopsis, I would like to note that I will try not to spoil anything major since The Hammer of Thor is a relatively new book. I won’t include the ending; just the beginning of the plot and what the story is about. But, if you insist on staying pure, skip over to the review part. I’ll make sure to put the words “Review Section” in really big letters for your convenience. You’re welcome.
For those of you who are new to Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, it is essentially a series about a character named Magnus Chase (I bet you didn’t know that), cousin of Annabeth Chase (from PJO and HoO), who lives in a world where Norse gods (like Thor, Odin, and Loki) are real. Magnus is a demigod (child of a mortal and a god) and an einherji, which essentially means a warrior but if I tell you more I’ll be giving you a spoiler.
Rumor has it that Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir (pronounced something like mill-near) is missing. Magnus and Co. find out that a giant, Thrym, has the hammer. I think I like the name Magnus and Co.; I’ll use it from now on to mean Magnus (the main character, who is an einherji, a warrior), Samirah (aka Sam, a Valkyrie/warrior), Jack (Sumarbrander/The Sword of Summer, who can talk), Blitzen (aka Blitz, a dwarf), and Hearthstone (aka Hearth, a deaf elf), and in general anyone on his side.
Loki sets up a deal of sorts for them to get the hammer back (this turns out to be a plan within a plan): Sam, Loki’s daughter, will forge a marriage alliance with the giants by marrying Thrym. Magnus and Co. will have to find the bride-price, which is a powerful sword and stone, called the Skofnung Sword and Skofnung Stone, respectively, and exchange it for Mjolnir.
You may be wondering, Why is a hammer so important?
Well, Mjolnir is Thor’s hammer, which is immensely powerful. It is the main reason why the giants haven’t invaded Migard/Earth yet, so if word spread that Thor was without his hammer, the giants would definitely wreak havoc upon us puny humans.
And so they embark on a dangerous and somewhat suicidal quest to obtain the items, stay alive, make it to the wedding, and get back Mjolnir, all while making sure that Loki doesn’t get the Skofnung Sword and Stone because reasons. (I don’t want to spoil!)
Okay, I will admit: I had extremely low expectations for this book. After reading the debut of this series, The Sword of Summer, I just didn’t think good ol’ Uncle Rick could make the sequel work.
I was completely wrong.
The main problems that I had encountered in The Sword of Summer were completely wiped out from The Hammer of Thor. I was, once again, a die-hard, shut-up-and-take-my-money Riordan fan.
I will start out with issues first. Some scenes were a bit silly and unrealistic. Many plot points only worked because of pure luck, and/or because of what I call “reader’s ignorance,” since we obviously didn’t study Norse mythology. My second and last issue was that some parts relied on tie-ins with the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus/Trials of Apollo stuff. By “rely on” I mean that it was obvious that name drops had taken place merely for the purpose of exciting past readers and motivate new ones to go look at Riordan’s other books.
To be honest, none of the issues I’m listing here really bothered me, because I am familiar with (maybe a little too familiar) Rick Riordan’s storytelling style, and as a fangirl, I just gobble their marketing up.
And as Loki says, Now the fun begins.
The first thing that caught my eye in this book was the sheer amount of REFERENCES. I tried to write them all down but I failed because I was too interested in reading more. But ones that I especially loved were the Marvel Comics references. The beginning is packed with them, ranging from name drops (Jessica Jones, the Hulk, and possibly the Thing) to phrases (Magnus says “On your left!” to Sam. Sam! Now that is what I call a well-placed reference.) And of course, this is Norse mythology so there are obviously characters such as Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, and Lady Sif.
I know that this is Disney’s way of marketing their Marvel movies and TV shows (Disney Hyperion publishes Rick Riordan’s books), but like I said, I just ate it up like a predictable fangirl. (I also forgot to add, there’s a small Kylo Ren reference as well.)
There’s also references to historical figures (Ernie Pyle, Crispus Attucks, Jim Bowie), shows (Cheers and The Walking Dead are mentioned), places, songs/pop artists (David Bowie, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Prince, and their songs are mentioned) oh, and I almost forgot–there’s also a Supergirl reference!
There’s obviously some PJO and HoO references since MCGA (I guess that’s the new acronym for Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard?) exists in the same universe. Not sure if this is a reference or not, but Annabeth says to Magnus on page 43:
“He’s family, Magnus, she [Annabeth] told me before she left for New York. We can’t give up on family.”
This seems awfully similar to something she says in The Last Olympian, but I’m not going to spoil.
Also, there is mention of Quetzalcoatl, who is a Aztec god, as a joke. It might also be a tease for an upcoming series on the Aztec gods though…
If there was a Guinness World Record for the largest amount of references in literature, I wouldn’t be surprised if it went to The Hammer of Thor.
As for typical good book qualities, Hammer has lots of them. It had good pacing (it was a little slow in the beginning and end, but that’s how it usually is for books), nice character development, and Rick Riordan’s trademark humor.
Speaking of character development, I love how Riordan introduced Alex Fierro and how Alex is gender fluid, and how he also showed Sam’s more religious life. If there’s anything we need in the world right now, it’s tolerance, and Rick does that very well in a way that is genuine.
Finally, the Lord of the Cliffhangers obviously couldn’t help himself in this book, because there was yet another cliffhanger! Luckily, it wasn’t as painful as the one in The Mark of Athena. I’d say it’s in between the one after The Blood of Olympus and the semi-cliffhanger ending to The Hidden Oracle.
There’s also some foreshadowing about the trials to come, especially for Hearth.
Also, I would recommend you re-read The Sword of Summer if your memory is like mine. That is to say, not so good. I read The Hammer of Thor a year after so some parts I just didn’t remember. My advice if you can’t get ahold of The Sword of Summer: Read the glossary of Hammer before reading the book.
Readers, feel free to share your thoughts on The Hammer of Thor. Please take into consideration that this is a relatively new book, so if you are going to comment any spoiler(s), big or small, please make sure to put a spoiler alert before commenting. Thanks!
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