I’ve now read four of Rick Riordan’s mythology series (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, The Heroes of Olympus and now Magnus Chase, plus some of the supplemental works) and I have to say that, if our son likes fantasy, he’s growing up at a great time. (Harry Potter is going to come first, though. Priorities)
And, yes, I clearly am having a lot of fun reading his books :D
Magnus Chase was fun, although I still feel that the Heroes of Olympus is the strongest series (to be fair, it had a whole other series to help develop it before hand) It definitely isn’t a good place to start reading Riordan, since it has a lot of references to the Greek/Roman books, Annabeth from those books is Magnus’s cousin (which we learn right off the bat so I’m not spoiling anything)
I’m not going to go into the plot or spoil anything. The books fit Riordan’s formula of mixing the silly and dramatic with a road trip plot. (What is nice about his road trip plots is that everything ties together. There are no scene just thrown in and never referenced again) You know, it works and it works well.
Instead, I want to commit on how Riordan handles power creep and what I felt was the biggest flaw with the Magnus Chase books.
In Riordan’s universe, Percy Jackson is established as just about the most powerful demigod. But as new books come out and new protagonists are introduced... Percy is still the top of the heap. I found that interesting. I feel like Riordan makes a real point of creating contrasting characters.
Magnus, part of the dark and brutal Norse pantheon, is technically the wimpiest protagonist so far. In that he’s a worse fighter than Percy or Carter or Sadie or Jason etc. However, he has his own strengths with healing and insight and being just darn cunning. He’s a trickster hero.
(Also, to be fair, while Percy is the most powerful as far as beating stuff up, he’s also the densest of the heroes. Which is kind of necessary plot wise, since it means people have to explain stuff to him and the audience. It also makes him work well as a tool to Annabeth. He’s the Superman to her Batman)
While I really had a lot of fun with Magnus Chase, it has this major issue for me. Too many characters. By my count, there are eight characters who have meaningful character arcs and that’s just too many for three books. Some of those arcs just felt crammed in, leaving me wanting more.
Admittedly, Riordan really left a lot of sequel hooks dangling so I won’t be surprised if we see these characters in future novels. There’s definitely more room the characters to grow.
Of course, he is also working on a third Greek/Roman series. And I would like to see more about Egypt and the Kanes. And, you know, an Aztec series would be fun...
Riordan is just a lot of fun to read. And I appreciate how he respectfully included LGBT characters (slight spoiler, very much so in the Magnus Chase books) since he knows he has young LGBT readers.
Actually, I have to comment on this. He has Magnus familiar with LGBT kids because he was homeless for two years. And that is truth is fiction. There’s a lot of homeless LGBT kids out there in real life.
Ultimately, my problem with Magnus Chase is I wanted more. So, I'm glad Riordan is still pretty young.