10:00 am EDT, October 15, 2016

‘The Hammer of Thor’ book review: To Ragnarok or not to Ragnarok, that is the question

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The Hammer of Thor is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan, and it continues the trend of introducing interesting and diverse characters.

About ‘The Hammer of Thor’

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki — and the price he wants is very high.

The Hammer of Thor Cover small

‘The Hammer of Thor’ book review

This review will contain minor spoilers for a newly introduced character. If you’re a major spoiler-phobe, skip this article until you’ve had time to read the book, and then come back and weigh in on the discussion!

Normally I devour any Rick Riordan book like a kid who has been given an all-access pass to their Halloween candy for the night. That is to say, without hesitation or consideration for those around me.

I consumed The Hammer of Thor a bit slower this time. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it — gods, no. In fact, I think this is one of the deepest and most inclusive stories Riordan has written. He’s introduced a type of character rarely found in literature so mainstream, and my hope is that children, teenagers, and even adults can find room to begin understanding those who are different from them.

I read this book so slowly because I wanted to spend as much time with these characters as possible.

The introduction of Alex Fierro as a gender fluid teen is, admittedly, a risk. There will always be a portion of the population that does not want their children to be exposed to the realities of life.

Luckily, Riordan has a firm grasp on his audience, as well as the star power to create stories as he wishes them to be. With the Magnus Chase series in particular, Riordan has actively worked toward being as inclusive as possible. There are characters of color, characters of different religious backgrounds, and characters who live with disabilities. Magnus himself understands what it’s like to live on the streets, to beg for meals, to feel invisible and forgotten.

Alex is another step in the right direction, exposing readers to people different than themselves. Not only is Alex a main character, she is also a strong warrior, a talented shapeshifter, and, quite possibly, a potential love interest for Magnus.

hammer of thor

Imagine growing up and seeing yourself in a book such as this, knowing there are people out there who have the same struggles you do.

But it’s not just Alex who brings depth to The Hammer of Thor. We once again see Samirah struggling to balance her duties as a Valkyrie with her duties as a student, a granddaughter, and a soon-to-be wife. Yet she still knows what she wants out of life. She doesn’t question her religion or her love for her betrothed. She is a woman of strength and vulnerability who is doing the best she can with what she’s given.

In particular, Magnus’ relationship with his Uncle Randolph hit a strong chord with me in this book. Randolph is not necessarily a good person. He knows what he’s doing is wrong and yet he does it anyway. He has his reasons, but that doesn’t make his actions right.

And yet Magnus can find some sort of compassion for his uncle. It may be a small section of his heart that bleeds for Randolph, but it’s there nonetheless. We even see Randolph’s character juxtaposed with Hearth’s father. As much as this story is about the importance of friends and found family, it’s also about real family and why they’ll always have a special place in your life.

The Hammer of Thor may be about the quest to save the god’s most famous magical tool, but that is merely the plot. The true heart of the book comes, as it always does, from the characters and their choices. Everyone struggles with their own obstacles and succeeds in their own way. Not everything is solved by the end of the book, but there is always hope. And sometimes hope is just what you need.

You can purchase ‘The Hammer of Thor’ by Rick Riordan on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or add it to your Goodreads list

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