The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1) by Rick Riordan. October 6, 2015. Disney-Hyperion, 512 pages. Ages 10 and up.
Magnus Chase has been living on the streets, hiding in plain sight, every since his mother was killed 2 years ago trying to protect him. Before she died, she warned him not to trust his uncles, so instead of turning to his family after his mother's death, he chose to live among the homeless where he was befriended by Blitz and Hearth, who look out for him.
One day Blitz tells him people are looking for him, passing out flyers with his picture and name. Magnus goes to where they are, without revealing himself, and realizes that it is his uncle Frederick and his cousin Annabeth. Curious as to why they are looking for him now, after two years, Magnus decides to break into his uncle Randolph's house to try to figure out why the sudden interest in his whereabouts. Unfortunately, Randolph comes home and catches him, and tries to persuade him that he is in grave danger. Randolph reminds him that today is Magnus' 16th birthday, and says that "they" will be coming to kill him now that he is a man and that it has something to do with his father, who Magnus never knew. Randolph begins talking about Norse mythology, something he has long been obsessed with, and claims that Magnus' father was none other than Frey, a Norse god.
Randolph tells Magnus that he must retrieve the powerful sword that one belonged to his father, a sword Randolph believes sank on a Viking ship right there in Boston 1000 years earlier. The sword is very powerful and must not fall into the wrong hands, and that he, as Frey's son, has the power to summon it. Much to Magnus' surprise, he is actually able to summon the sword, but as soon as he does, he finds himself in a battle with an unknown enemy who can produce fire. Magnus fights valiantly, trying to save innocent bystanders from harm, but in the end Magnus dies.
And that is only the beginning!
This is a very fast-paced, action-packed adventure/quest and fans of Riordan's other series should not be disappointed. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was based on Greek mythology, Heroes of Olympus was based on the corresponding Roman myths, The Kane Chronicles were rooted in Egyptian mythology, and now Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard introduces Norse mythology.
I liked the Percy Jackson books, but being something of a Greek/Roman mythology buff, the inaccuracies in the books always bugged me, whether they were from lack of research or artistic license, I'm not sure. However, being blissfully ignorant of Norse mythology, I was able to enjoy the story of The Sword of Summer without being distracted by such inaccuracies. While the story is primarily action and drama, it did have a lot of humor sprinkled throughout, often when revealing the gods' interest in and knowledge of human pop culture. It's been a while since I read Percy Jackson, but I don't remember it having quite as much humor.
I would recommend this obviously for fans of Riordan's other series, but also fans of Harry Potter, Charlie Bone, The Blackwell pages (all of which have to do with seemingly ordinary kids suddenly discovering they have unusual parentage and special powers), those with an interest in mythology, and readers looking for a fast-paced adventure story who don't mind a little fantasy.
The next book in the series, The Hammer of Thor, is due out in October of 2016.
Note: children of the 90's will likely note in the cover art that Magnus Chase bears an uncanny resemblance to Kurt Cobain. This resemblance is intentional and is referred to on more than one occasion in the book. And yes, his cousin Annabeth is the same Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series. She has a very small part in this book, but I suspect her role will be expanded as the series develops.