A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hammer of Thor is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series from Rick Riordan, the author of the ultra-popular Percy Jackson series. While Percy Jackson lives half in the world of the Greek gods, Magnus Chase follows Norse mythology. As in all his series, Riordan sticks to his signature humor in the face of dire circumstances, so nothing gets too dark -- not even the idea that Magnus is already dead and living in Valhalla. Some gore is described, including a sword that comes out of a gut with "a couple of pink things that looked like fingers." Plus the god Loki's imprisonment is described in detail: A snake shoots venom at his face, and he's chained to boulders with ropes made from his dead sons. Magnus continues to be a brave character who feels much empathy for others -- especially the loners and the homeless he used to live among. He tries hard both to understand his friends -- including a new gender-fluid friend named Alex -- and to help his friends face difficult problems -- such as his hijab-wearing friend Sam, who struggles to find a way to tell her betrothed about her second life as a Valkyrie. Expect a little mead drinking among all ages in Valhalla. Magnus describes the drink as more like espresso than alcohol.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE HAMMER OF THOR, when Magnus leaves Valhalla to meet his Valkyrie friend Sam at a coffee shop in Boston, things go wrong quickly. Sam has to run off for an emergency soul-reaping, and one of Thor's goats shows up in a bad "trench coat and sunglasses" disguise. He's there to beg Magnus to retrieve Thor's hammer before it's too late. Once the giants get wind that the best weapon against them is gone, they'll invade Midgard (Earth). He tells Magnus the hammer is in a wight's barrow (the lair of a powerful undead creature) just before an ax flies into the goat's chest. The masked ax-wielder has a warning for Magnus: The barrow is a trap. But what's Magnus to do? A goat has given him the only lead he has, and if he doesn't follow it he has to go with a pretty terrible Plan B: actually show up to the wedding Loki planned for his daughter, Sam, in five days. He's promised Sam to the giant who stole the hammer and will be given the hammer as a brideprice. With Loki the trickster god involved, giants invading Midgard and Sam marrying a gross giant could be the least of their worries. Time to find that hammer.
Is it any good?
With Book 1 and all the complexities of explaining nine worlds and new Norse gods out of the way, this sequel hits its stride with an exciting storyline carried out by diverse characters. Readers get to jump right into meeting one of Thor's goats at a coffee shop, Sam the Valkyrie running off to reap a soul, and Magnus heading home to attend a banquet in Valhalla. After The Sword of Summer -- and maybe a trip back in the glossary to check on some names -- it all makes perfect sense.
And for an author like Rick Riordan who strives for diverse characters, it makes sense for him to include the gender-fluid character of Alex as well. Both Alex's struggles and the struggles of the deaf elf Heartstone to face his disapproving and selfish father add depth in between nine-world hopping and giant killing. The only problem with these great characters is that Magnus' character growth seems to be taking a backseat to it all. He's always the understanding friend with few problems of his own. With The Hammer of Thor's great cliffhanger, Book 3 promises to be exciting. Hopefully it's also a chance for Magnus to work on his heroic qualities.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the character Alex in The Hammer of Thor. Is Alex the first gender-fluid person you've read about in fantasy books? If so, why do you think that is? Did you have as many questions about Alex as Magnus did?
Magnus says "the loners have better stories." Do you think he's right?
The end of The Hammer of Thor already shows the hardship in store for Magnus, Sam, and friends. Will you keep reading?
- Author: Rick Riordan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: October 4, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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