Marshmallow reviews Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan

Marshmallow is clearly a Rick Riordan fan. Most recently she reviewed for the book bunnies blog the three books that make up the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series:  The Sword of SummerThe Hammer of Thor, and The Ship of the Dead. Today she writes about a companion book to the trilogy: Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds.

Marshmallow reviews Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about Norse mythology or enjoyed reading the Magnus Chase books by Rick Riordan, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): In Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds, characters from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, including several of the most prominent gods and goddesses, introduce readers to the nine worlds of Norse mythology and tell stories. All throughout, we learn new facts about Norse mythology in creative ways: there are advice columns, interviews, rap battles, and more.

The book starts off with an introduction to Hotel Valhalla, the place where einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odin) wait to fight in Ragnarok. The managers of the hotel introduce the Norse worlds (there’s nine!) to the readers, assumed to be incoming einherjar:

Dear Valued Guests,

On behalf of the staff, welcome to Hotel Valhalla. We recognize that there were other options for your afterlife. We thank you for the selfless sacrifice that landed you here among Odin’s chosen warriors instead of elsewhere.

Helgi, Manager of Hotel Valhalla since 749 C.E.

Some of the gods and goddesses we met in the Magnus Chase series tell us stories and cool facts about themselves and other things that make up Norse mythology. For example, there is an interview with Odin, the all-father. We met Odin before, in The Sword of Summer, and he was a little annoying, always trying to give PowerPoint presentations and sell his courses. The same character is in full display in the interview, but we also learn about some of his backstory. Then there is an advice column featuring Frigg, the wife of Odin, who while dispensing advice retells some old stories involving her and her family.

This book is divided into different sections. There is a section on gods and goddesses, one on mythical beings, and another on fantastic creatures. Also, at the end of the book, there is a glossary which tells you how to pronounce the words and names in Norse mythology. 

Marshmallow is reading Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a great complementary book to the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. It helps explain some things that were mentioned in the series and adds context. Hotel Valhalla continues the tradition of companion books, similar to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook, and The Demigod Diaries, as well as Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods and Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. Just like how the first two complemented the Harry Potter universe, and the latter three complemented the world of Percy Jackson, I like how Hotel Valhalla complements the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

One thing that I really liked was that the author, Rick Riordan,  managed to find many different, unique ways to tell the stories in the book. There are many different formats. Some are interviews and others are just written in the first person from the perspective of some of the gods and goddesses. I particularly found the advice column one funny, as it reminded me of a book I recently read and reviewed: Dear Student by Elly Swartz.

Unfortunately, there are not too many images in Hotel Valhalla. There are just a few sketches to help us visualize some of the gods and goddesses, but all are black and white, and there is no color, unlike the full-color images in The Demigod Diaries. They are still pretty neat images though.

I think that Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds is a great book to read before or after reading the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Reading it before might give you a platform, sufficient background to use. It is also perfectly enjoyable afterwards, when you want to revisit the world of Magnus Chase. You also learn a lot of new stories from Norse mythology. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan 95%.
Marshmallow rates Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan

Marshmallow has reviewed  The Sword of Summer, the first book of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, as well as The Hammer of Thor, the second book in the series. Today she reviews The Ship of the Dead, the third and last book about the adventures of Magnus Chase, the dead son of Frey.

Marshmallow reviews The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about Norse mythology, friendship, or other books by Rick Riordan, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Magnus Chase, the son of Frey who recently became an einherji after dying, is preparing to embark on a journey with his friends/companions to save the world. Loki, the god of trickery, is trying to start Ragnarok, the destruction of the world according to Norse mythology. Magnus and his crew plan to sail on a boat given to them by Frey. They will travel to the farthest borders of Jotunheim, the home of the giants, and Niflheim, the world of ice, fog, and mist, to prevent Loki from starting Ragnarok by beating him in a flytiing, withthe help of Kvasir’s Mead, and capturing him in a magical nutshell, thus stopping Naglfar (the ship of human nails which is carrying monsters and undead to start Ragnarok) from sailing. (Yes, there are a lot of things to keep track of! But bear with me.)

On his ship Magnus Chase has brought seven companions. Samirah Al-Abbas is a Muslim Valkyrie. Hearthstone is a deaf/mute elf who works with rune-magic. Blitzen is a dwarf who is a master fashion adviser. Mallory Keen, Halfborn Gunderson, Alex Fierro, and Thomas Jefferson Jr. are all Magnus’s fellow einherjar. Mallory died in 1972 on the day that became known as Bloody Friday during the explosion of a bomb while she was trying to defuse it. Halfborn Gunderson lived in the time of the Vikings. Alex Fierro is a gender-fluid child of Loki who was living on the streets for two years before she died protecting another person. Thomas Jefferson Jr. was a Union soldier in the American Civil War who died fighting for freedom. 

In the previous two books, Magnus and his companions have traveled to many of the different Norse worlds. (There are nine in total.) In this final book of the series, Magnus and his friends need to travel between some of the remaining ones to find Kvansir’s Mead, the drink which will supposedly make him very poetic. Everyone believes this is his only hope to win his flyting fight with Loki. 

Marshmallow is reading The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Review: The Ship of the Dead is a great book and a satisfying finale to Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

I thought that each of the characters developed throughout the series, and I liked that we finally got to learn more about and understand the pasts of some of Magnus’s companions. Their backgrounds were woven into real events in history (for some of them).

I also liked how Rick Riordan ties these books in with some of his other series. Several characters we’ve seen before appeared in this book. This third book starts with Percy Jackson, for example, trying to teach Magnus about sea-faring. It was also interesting to see what was happening in Magnus’s world when other things were happening in say *hint* *hint* Apollo’s/Lester’s world.

All in all, I thought that the ending of The Ship of the Dead made for a satisfying finale to the series. And I strongly recommend reading the full Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. 

To get the most out of this book, I strongly recommend that you read the previous two books in this series before getting into this one. It might even be a good idea to read all of the previous series, but that may not be fully necessary. It won’t make too much of a difference; you can still read the book without getting confused, there are only a few references that you can skip over. However, the previous series are amazing, so reading them would be a great experience! And why not get the whole picture of how the world could be full of these conflicting, overlapping, wildly imaginative mythologies all coexisting at the same time?

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Ship of the Dead (Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan 100%.

Marshmallow reviews The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan

Two weeks ago, Marshmallow reviewed The Sword of Summer, the first book of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Today she reviews the second book in this trilogy: The Hammer of Thor. Sprinkles, who is currently reading the book, is asking questions and taking notes.

Marshmallow reviews The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell our readers about this book.

Marshmallow: If you like magic and mythology and fantasy and friendship and other books by Rick Riordan, then this might be the book for you! But of course first you should read The Sword of Summer, the first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

S: Yes, and I did. Your review was convincing enough to get me to read that. And of course then I had to dive right into this second book. But I am not done yet. So please do tell our readers about the story line, but without too many spoilers.

M: Okay, will do. In the beginning of the book, Magnus Chase is planning to meet Samirah Al-Abbas for coffee to talk about a mysterious, important issue. Samirah is suddenly called away to help reap a soul. Remember that Samirah (Sam) is a valkyrie whose job is to bring the honorable dead to Hotel Valhalla. And she was the valkyrie who selected Magnus for Valhalla when he died in the first book.

Before she leaves, Sam says that an undercover operative will meet him at the café. While Magnus is waiting for her to return, he sees the undercover operative, Otis. Otis is one of the two goats of Thor we met in the first book. His job is to pull Thor’s chariot and provide him with goat meat. (Otis and his brother Marvin are eaten every night and resurrected every morning.) Otis is not exactly the greatest with disguises. he wears a coat, a hat, and sunglasses. Otis informs Magnus that Thor’s hammer is missing, unofficially. Thor doesn’t want his enemies to know that his main weapon of power is missing.

S: Okay, so we learn already that Thor’s hammer is missing and that is the main quest of this book.

M: Yes. Actually we had learned that Thor was missing his hammer in the first book. But now it is absolutely essential that Sam and Magnus and their friends Blitz the Dwarf and Hearthstone the Elf find it, and find it soon. Or Sam is going to have to marry a giant!

Marshmallow is reading The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan.

S: Okay, I actually got that far in the book but maybe we don’t want to give away a lot more than that.

M: Yes, true. We already set up the main story line of the book.

S: And I’m guessing that the rest is just fun and adventure and danger and all that stuff all intertwined with mythology that we have come to love in Riordan’s other books?

M: Yes.

S: Among the Riordan characters that you have read about so far, how does Magnus rank?

M: He is a good person and has natural reactions to things, and he tries to be thoughtful and sensitive. His sense of humor is similar to Percy Jackson‘s.

S: I noticed that too. I guess two narrators written by the same author can have some similarities in voice.

M: Yes, but you do know that they are definitely different people. Percy was a lot more naive and rash. And Magnus is a lot more mature in many ways.

S: Yes, and the third first-person voice we read from Riordan was Apollo / Lester from Trials of Apollo series, and that guy was the most immature of all, at least in the beginning.

M: More arrogant than immature, I’d say. Percy and Magnus are not arrogant.

S: Agreed. Okay, I can’t wait to get back to reading the book. So let us wrap up this review quickly. If you were to rate this book on a scale of 1 to 100 percent, what would you rate it at?

M: 95%.

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

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

Marshmallow rates The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Hammer of Thor (Book 2 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series) by Rick Riordan 95%.

Caramel reviews The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

All three of the book bunnies enjoy reading the many books of Rick Riordan based on various mythologies. Caramel has already reviewed for the book bunnies blog the graphic novel versions of the first three books of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Today he talks about the fourth book, the graphic novel version of The Battle of the Labyrinth. As usual Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

(Before continuing, you might want to check out Caramel’s reviews of The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse.)

Caramel reviews The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel reviews The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, I know you had misplaced your copy of The Battle of the Labyrinth and only recently got your paws on it again. How did it feel rereading it after so many weeks? Or months?

Caramel: It felt good! I missed my book!

S: So it is worth the rereading, I can see that. Can you tell us what it is about?

C: It’s about Percy Jackson. We met him before in all the other books of the series.

S: Yes, you reviewed the first three books already.

C: And Marshmallow did too. She read the original books. And I reviewed the graphic novels.

S: Actually you read the original books, too, right?

C: Yes. I did. But I like the graphic novels a lot more. I like looking at the pictures, and they arw so much more full of action!

S: I can see that. And yes, the graphic novel format brings the people alive somehow. Right?

C: Yes.

S: Okay, let’s assume we all read the first three books and know Percy is a demigod, that is, a son of the Greek god Poseidon, and he is on a quest to save the world from Kronos, one of the titans, who is trying to take over and overthrow the Olympian gods. Can you tell us what is happening in this book?

C: Percy and his friend Annabeth find the labyrinth. You know the labyrinth, right?

S: What should I know about it?

C: It is Daedalus‘s lab more or less, but it is a living thing, it keeps changing, and popping up new branches, and moving around underground. And Daedalus is a son of Athena, and he is a genius, and his labyrinth is a work of genius.

S: Okay, so why do Percy and Annabeth want to find it?

C: They don’t. They just accidentally fall into it. And then they realize how important it is. And there is a battle. Of the labyrinth. As you could imagine, given the title of th book.

Caramel is reading The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel is reading The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey.

S: So on one side of this battle are Percy and his friends, I can imagine.

C: And the gods, of course.

S: Okay, and on the other side?

C: The titans, and of course, Kronos who is leading them.

S: Hmm, and since this is the fourth book in a series of five, I am assuming that there is still a lot left for our heroes to do by the end?

C: Yup, but this one does end with some sort of a conclusion to a part of the story. So you leave the book satisfied but wanting also to read the next one. Of course.

S: Of course. I found it really interesting that the labyrinth shows up in many of the other books. It shows up in the Trials of Apollo series, for example.

C: Oh, but you are not supposed to give things away!

S: Oops! Okay, you are right. Then maybe I should stop talking. Why don’t you tell us your three words for the book?

C: Exciting, thrilling, and suspenseful.

S: Hmm, those are all pretty cool words Caramel! And I agree, they fit this book well. Okay, let us wrap up our review then. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Caramel loved reading The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey, and he is looking forward to the fifth and last book in the series.
Caramel loved reading The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Orpheus Collar, Antoine Dodé, and Chris Dickey, and he is looking forward to the fifth and last book in the series.