cover image The Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer

Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion, $19.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4231-6091-5

Ten years after The Lightning Thief, which chronicled modern-day Greek god shenanigans on Earth, Riordan enters a new pantheon with a similar setup: on his 16th birthday, Magnus Chase learns that he is a demigod, human son of a Norse god. Talk about an upgrade—Chase had been homeless in Boston since his mother’s death (by wolf attack) two years earlier. Chase’s story opens with his death on the day he comes of age, when he finds his father’s powerful sword and defends Boston against a fire giant. For dying a hero, he earns afterlife at the Hotel Valhalla (so large it has its own Ikea), but Chase has scores to settle and must prevent Ragnarok itself, a mission that involves perilous encounters, loads of gore, and snarky one-liners. Riordan plays much of the material for laughs (one battle weapon is a stolen sign that reads “Make Way for Ducklings”) and brings the Norse gods into the 21st century (Thor streams TV shows on his hammer). The sensibility is right in line with the Percy Jackson novels, and the audience will be just as large. Ages 10–14. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Oct.)