Book Review: The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard)

I’m not sure if it was the story, the writing, or just the time in our lives where my youngest son (now 13) started to fade from our read-aloud time (which makes me sad), but reading the third book of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series (The Ship of the Dead) by Rick Riordan took … forever.

Actually, after finally admitting that we would not be finishing it as read-aloud (despite starting it way back in October!), I dove in this weekend and read with gusto the second half of the book, and found it more enjoyable. Still, the plethora of Norse Mythology names — heroes, gods, places, objects — is mind-boggling and difficult to keep track of.

Once I got into the heart of the adventure — of Magnus Chase and his friends stopping Loki from starting Ragnarok, or the beginning of the end of the world by challenging the trickster God to a poetry duel of sorts — I was fine, although everything Riordan writes now feels like faint echoes of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.  And the overuse of sarcasm in Magnus’ view of the world gets a little weary to me, as a reader.

I don’t see as many of my sixth grade readers devouring this series like some of the other Riordan adventures, although there are still a few diehard readers who will take up whatever he writes with a passion.

On a side note: I do appreciate how Riordan tackles the gender fluidity of one of the characters, whom Magnus has attraction to even as the character toggles (magically) from male to female, and I admire Riordan’s attempt to open the eyes of his readers to the larger world. I do wonder what some librarians, teachers and parents might think in some of our more conservative places, but maybe we won’t tell them … shhh. Let the kids read.

Peace (in the face of the end),

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