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  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Review by: Gretchen L.
Michigan, Grade 10

The novel Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor is the second in a middle grade fantasy based on Norse mythology by New York Times bestselling author Rick Riordan. The main characters are Magnus Chase, an undead einherjar warrior, his valkyrie friend Samirah al-Abbas, and the gender fluid shapeshifter Alex Fierro. The trickster god Loki is the main antagonist, a powerful foe near impossible to beat. He is made all the more frightening by his ability to control his demigod children, including Sam and Alex. The story follows Magnus and his friends as they try to find Thorís lost hammer, a powerful weapon that, if used for evil by Loki, could bring Ragnarok, the Norse version of the apocalypse.
While searching for the hammer, Loki reveals that the powerful giant Thrym has it. Over the course of their journey to retrieve it, he forces the heroes to retrieve the Skofnung Sword, the one weapon that can cut the chains he is imprisoned in. In order to get both the sword and the hammer, Loki arranges his daughter Samirah to be married to Thrym where the weapons will be given to him as wedding presents.
Samís wedding is the storyís climax, where the team plans to have Thor and other gods ambush the giants and take back the hammer before the knot can be tied. Loki, however, has other plans. Magnus and his friends are led by the giants into Lokiís prison, a place from which he is supposedly unable to escape. However, with the only weapon that can release him near his grasp, Loki is closer to freedom and starting Ragnarok than ever. In an epic battle, Magnus, Sam, and Alex are able to retrieve Thorís hammer, though not before Loki is cut free from his chains and able to escape.

The Hammer of Thor and the Magnus Chase series in general has been praised for its diverse cast of characters. Magnus is a previously homeless teen, Samirah is Arabic and Muslim, and Alex is one of the few representations of gender fluid people, and queer gendered people in general, in literature. There are also people of color, LGBT+ characters, and a Deaf character who uses American Sign Language. Rick Riordan is not only pushing for diversity in books, but specifically in middle grade books. This is amazing, as kids will be introduced to diversity at a young age, and kids will be able to read about people like them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, witty, and compelling. Rick Riordan is truly an amazing author. The premise and fun twists on Norse stories were an added bonus. It explored themes of change, both good and bad. Alex Fierro represents positive change by shapeshifting into animals and shifting between genders. Loki represents negative change by bringing about Ragnarok. Another theme explored is blood versus water. Both Sam and Alex feel guilty for Lokiís actions and ashamed to be one of his children. Over the course of the story, however, they learn that Magnus and their friends had become their new family, proving that the blood of the covenant, friendship, is thicker than the water of the womb. To be sure, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor is a great middle grade fantasy novel.

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