First there were the Greek gods, then the Egyptian gods, then the Roman gods—now Riordan takes on the Norse gods.
On his 16th birthday, homeless Boston orphan Magnus Chase (daughter-of-Athena Annabeth’s cousin) magically summon an ancient Norse sword, uses it against a fireball-throwing monster, drops the sword, and dies—but a girl in hijab on a flying horse grabs him and deposits him at the Hotel Valhalla for a new afterlife of perpetual preparation for Ragnarok. Turns out Ragnarok will come pretty soon unless he can retrieve the sword and somehow use it to rebind Fenris Wolf, who is about to slip the magical rope that’s kept him bound for millennia. This will take some doing. Per established formula, narrator Magnus explores his fabulous new home, makes quirky new friends, acquires a bristly female companion, engages in a chain of adventures, and meets the Norse pantheon. Riordan consciously crafts a diverse cast, including a dark-skinned dwarf and a deaf elf. Muslim Valkyrie Samirah is a particularly interesting character. Though she does not come across as devout—she doesn’t seem to take time out to pray, for example—Riordan’s choice to make her happy with her future arranged marriage both honors her culture and allows her friendship with Magnus to develop blessedly free of romantic tension.
A fast-paced, eventful, and largely successful pivot. (Fantasy. 10-14)