Marshmallow reviews Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Marshmallow has read and reviewed a large number of books by Rick Riordan already. Most recently she began reading the Magnus Chase series. Today she shares her thoughts on the first book of this series: The Sword of Summer.

(Marshmallow reviewed three books from Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; check out her reviews of The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse. Caramel reviewed the graphic novel versions of the same three. See his reviews of  The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse.

Marshmallow also reviewed all five books of Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series: The Lost HeroThe Son of NeptuneThe Mark of AthenaThe House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus.

She also reviewed all five books of the Trials of Apollo series: The Hidden OracleThe Dark ProphecyThe Burning MazeThe Tyrant’s Tomb, and The Tower of Nero.

You might also like to check out Marshmallow’s reviews of Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods,  Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, and The Demigod Diaries.)

Marshmallow reviews Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like reading about mythology and/or have enjoyed some of Rick Riordan’s previous books, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Magnus Chase (the cousin of Annabeth Chase, one of my favorite characters from Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) finally goes to his uncle Randolph’s house. His whole life his mother told him not to. She tried to distance herself from Randolph.

The book starts two years after the death of Magnus Chase’s mother. Magnus has been living on the streets because he doesn’t want to go to his uncle. But then he sees his other uncle and his cousin Annabeth looking for him. They were sent by Randolph to look for Magnus. Magnus breaks into Randolph’s house to find the reason why. He meets Randolph, and this uncle his mother told him to avoid at all costs tells him remarkable things.

According to Randolph, the Norse gods are real, and Magnus is descended from one of them. (Sound familiar? Yes, so in the vein of the previous Riordan series, we are again thinking of ancient myths; this time, though, the mythology we are diving into is the Norse one.)

Marshmallow is reading Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.

Randolph drives Magnus to Longfellow Bridge and tells him that he needs to retrieve a sword from the bottom of the bay, a sword that belonged to Magnus’s father. Magnus retrieves the sword, and just in time. A fire giant appears on the bridge and starts to destroy it. Magnus attacks the giant, whose name is Surt, and is mortally wounded. Big spoiler alert! Magnus dies, though he takes Surt down with him. 

Magnus wakes up in a hotel: Hotel Valhalla. He learns that this is the place where the einherjar, the chosen warriors of Odin, wait for Ragnarök, the final battle in which the gods will die and all nine of the Norse worlds will end. Magnus is brought to the hotel by Samirah Al-Abbas, better known as Sam. Sam is a Valkyrie whose job is to bring the honorable dead to Valhalla.

However, Magnus cannot stay in Valhalla for long. His two friends, Blitzen and Hearthstone, who lived on the street with him appear and tell him that they are actually a dwarf and an elf, respectively. They convince him to leave Hotel Valhalla and they set out. Magnus and his friends must retrieve the sword he had found in the harbor. When he plummeted from the bridge with Surt, he had lost the sword.

When the trio retrieve the sword, they find out that there is a much larger problem going on. But I can’t tell what it is, you have to read the book!

Marshmallow’s Review: The Sword of Summer is a great book. It has the same humor and magic as Riordan’s other books. I thought that all of the characters are likable and maybe relatable at some level, though their lives are so different from the general population’s.

I thought the plot was well written. Also I found this book to be a great entry point into the nine worlds of Norse mythology. I had not read much about Norse mythology before so the whole context was new and it was quite exciting to learn.

I admit that I hesitated a while before diving into the Magnus Chase series. I have really loved the stories of the Greek demigods in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the Roman demigods in the Heroes of Olympus series. I was not ready to let them go and dive into a new world and get immersed in the adventures of a totally new set of characters. I was skeptical that I could enjoy them as much. But The Sword of Summer was just as exciting and just as captivating as the other Riordan books, and I can’t wait to read and tell you about the rest of the books in the series.

I recommend this book highly to younger readers and older ones alike. I know for example that Sprinkles will love it.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan 100%.

Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan

Through the years, Marshmallow has reviewed quite a few books written by Rick Riordan. Today she revisits the world of Percy Jackson, a Greek demigod whose adventures we have read about in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and his friends whom we met in the Heroes of Olympus series. In the review below, Marshmallow tells us her thoughts about The Demigod Diaries, published first in 2012, written after the completion of the first series and before the completion of the second.

(Marshmallow reviewed three books from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; check out her reviews of The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse. Caramel reviewed the graphic novel versions of the same three. See his reviews of  The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse.)

(Marshmallow also reviewed all five books of the Heroes of Olympus series: The Lost HeroThe Son of NeptuneThe Mark of AthenaThe House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus.)

Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked some of the other books by Rick Riordan or enjoy books about Greek mythology, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary: This book consists of a couple short stories placed in the Rick Riordan world, games about the Rick Riordan world, special pictures, and one interview with George and Martha, the snakes on Hermes’s caduceus. There are four short stories: “The Diary of Luke Castellan”, “Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes”, “Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford”, and “Son of Magic”.

“The Diary of Luke Castellan” is written from the perspective of Luke Castellan, a major character in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The story details how his friend Thalia found her shield (Aegis) and how they together met a seven-year-old Annabeth, one of the most important characters in the two series involving the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

“Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes” is written from the perspective of Percy Jackson. The story is about Percy Jackson’s mission to recover Hermes’s caduceus.

Marshmallow is reading The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.

“Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford” is about Leo Valdez’s search for Buford, his trusty table friend. We met Leo Valdez in The Lost Hero, the first book of the Heroes of Olympus series. Leo is a son of Hephaestus, a skilled mechanic, and a goofy but faithful friend.

“Son of Magic” concerns a half-blood who chose to side with Kronos during the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The half-blood is in trouble, being chased by a monster, and he needs the help of a mortal. This story was written by Riordan’s son Haley Riordan.

In addition to the four stories, the book contains an exclusive interview with George and Martha, the two snakes on the caduceus of Hermes. There are also some trivia games and a word search puzzle.

Finally, the book includes several full-color full-page illustrations of several of the main characters from the two series. In particular there are full-page images of Annabeth, Percy, Luke, Piper, and Leo, and some illustrations of specific places. The colored illustrations were made by Antonio Caparo and the black-and-white ones were by Steve James.

Marshmallow is looking at the portraits of Annabeth and Percy in The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is looking at the portraits of Annabeth and Percy in The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan, drawn by Antonio Caparo.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading The Demigod Diaries. I think it makes a great addition to my Riordan collection, and it really explained some things that happened in the main books of the two series involving the Greek and Roman demigods. Some of the events in this book were mentioned by the main characters in the main series and it was good to have the full stories be told.

I enjoyed the games and thought that the images were really well-drawn. The stories fit right into the world that Rick Riordan created in his two main series, and it was nice to reconnect with the characters from them.

The Demigod Diaries does not involve the later series by Riordan such as the Trials of Apollo, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, or The Kane Chronicles. I haven’t read the Magnus Chase books or the Kane Chronicles yet, but this was fine; the stories in The Demigod Diaries take place before these other series, and so I think there are no spoilers.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.  

Marshmallow rates The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Today Marshmallow reviews a 2020 novel by Nnedi Okorafor: Ikenga. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, what do you want to tell us about this book?

Marshmallow: Ikenga is about a twelve-year-old boy named Nnamdi, whose father used to be the police chief in their village in Nigeria. But the father is killed and his murderer has not been caught. Nnamdi feels weak, because he knows who the murderer is but he is too young to do anything about it. But one day, his father’s spirit visits him, and gives him an Ikenga, a small statue of a horned creature who gives Nnamdi great powers, making him transform into a powerful, seven-foot-tall man.

S: That is very interesting. So he transforms like the Incredible Hulk, or like Superman or Batman, into a hero with super powers.

M: Yes. The village he is from is very corrupt, and Nnamdi takes on the criminals who do whatever they want and go unpunished. But along the way he also needs to figure out how to control his powers.

S: So is there a lot of violence in the book then?

M: There are some fight scenes, so I think one could call it violent, but we mainly see everything through Nnamdi’s perspective, and we see him go through his daily life with his mom, and it does not feel like violence is the central theme.

S: What would you say the central theme is?

M: I think it is about controlling your own emotions, your own powers. Nnamdi needs to figure out how to control his new powers, or he might start hurting people he cares about.

S: So would you say it is about self-control or about knowing yourself?

M: I’d say both.

Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

S: I understand that the author uses a lot of ingredients from Nigerian and Igbo mythology and spirituality. Did you find it difficult to enter into that world?

M: The author really creates a vivid world, a totally convincing one, and so as the reader I found it really easy to get into the story and its story world.

S: That is really great to hear. I’m really getting eager to read Ikenga. Some of what you are telling me reminds me of Children of Blood and Bone, also by a Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi, who was able to create a completely captivating world in Africa, of magic, spirits, and myths. But of course you have not read that book yet. So let me ask you another question. If you were able to ask one question to the author, what would it be?

M: Let me think. I think the story wraps up really well, and the author doesn’t keep us hanging but I found Nnamdi and his world fascinating, and am kind of curious if the author would be writing more about Nnamdi in the future.

S: Hmm, I think that is an interesting question. This is a recent book, so we do not know if there will be a sequel, and if as you say, the story is already wrapped up well, there may not be. But maybe we will explore other books the author wrote. She does have several others; she apparently was a national-level athlete in high school before getting paralyzed and turning to writing.

M: I did not know that.

S: Yes, her story is very moving. But she is a very interesting writer, and maybe we will read more books from her.

M: I’d like that!

S: Okay, this is probably a good time to wrap up this review. How would you rate this book?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Thanks. And what do you want to tell our readers?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.

Caramel reviews The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

Last year Caramel began to review the graphic novel versions of the Rick Riordan series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. You can check out his reviews of The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters. Today he finally shares with us his thoughts on the third book of the series: The Titan’s Curse. As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

(You can read Marshmallow’s review of the original book here.)

Caramel reviews The Titan's Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel reviews The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you are back to Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

Caramel: Yeah.

S: So it has been a while since you read the last book. So tell us a bit about what the main story line is.

C: Percy Jackson is a demigod; that means his dad is one of the Olympian gods. His is Poseidon, the god of the sea. In these books, he is trying to help the other demigods beat monsters who are trying to bring down the Olympian gods and take over the world.

S: Okay, so this sets the stage for book 3. What happens in this book?

C: Percy and his friends try to save two young demigods, Bianca and Nico, but they are stopped by monsters. Turns out the school principal is a monster, a manticore.

S: Hmm, that reminded me of the book you reviewed way back where the school teacher was a robot: My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown.

C: Yes, except robots and manticores are different. Manticores are monsters and robots are robots. They can be friendly. And in the end, in that book, the teacher is probably not a robot. But here the principal is really a monster who is trying to deliver the two demigods to the General. And who the general is is a secret.

S: Alright. That sounds dangerous.

C: Yes. As usual Percy gets into a lot of troubles, small and large.

Caramel is reading The Titan's Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel is reading The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.

S: So was this book fun to read?

C: Yes.

S: You also read the original book. What did you think of the graphic novel in relation to that?

C: As always, the graphic novel is a bit different. But not too much. Let me do a scene-by-scene comparison…

S: Really?

C: No.

S: Okay, that sounds more like you.

C: I’ll still say that both books are fun to read.

S: What did you think of the illustrations in this version?

C: They are great!

S: To me they look a bit dark.

C: A lot is happening in the dark, at night, or inside caverns.

S: So I see, it makes sense for it to be dark.

C: Yep.

S: So what do you think of the version of Percy in the graphic novels? Does he look like the Percy you imagined him to be when you were first reading the books?

C: Not particularly.

S: How about the Percy in the movies?

C: Nope. My Percy is the one on the cover of the original books that Marshmallow reviewed.

S: It is interesting how the first images we build for characters stay with us. Right?

C: Yep.

S: But if you had seen the movie before the books, it might have been different. I bet when you read Harry Potter, you are seeing the movie Potter, no?

C: Yep. That is true.

S: I find that fascinating. Anyways, before we wrap up, tell me three words you’d use to describe the book.

C: Exciting, action-filled, very close to the original books.

S: Thanks. So what do you want to tell our readers as we finalize this review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey, and is looking forward to reading the next books in the series in this format.