“Heroes never get to be ready, do we?”
Title: The Ship of the Dead
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (#3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy > Mythology / Young Adult / Middle Grade
Page number: 423
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?
🌙 🧕– Muslim & Arab Reading Month #3 (this book features an Arab-American Muslima hijabi!)
Rick Riordan’s books hold a special place in my heart because they’re what got me into reading. I don’t think it’s possible for me to hate anything he writes, like, at all.
I think this series is, hands-down, one of the best he’s written. I know people classify his mythology books as Middle Grade, but honestly, they work great for YA too. Or, you know what, this book is suited for ALL AGES. *slides it into the nearest old age home*
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is one of my favourite series of all time, right next to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It’s packed with diversity, hilarious action, lovable characters, and even has a talking. Sword.
A TALKING SWORD.
I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I NEEDED THAT UNTIL THIS SERIES.
In this final installment of the series (*SOB*), Magnus and his friends are faced with yet another challenge: stop Loki’s Naglfar – The Ship of the Dead – from setting sail and starting Ragnarök before its time.
This review may contain spoilers from the previous two books, so read at your own risk!
⚓ Magnus Chase
“I was a healer. I didn’t cut people. I put them back together.”
I love my soft sunshine boy to death. After everything he’s been through in his life: the lies he lived about who he actually was, homelessness, having to go on two separate quests that almost cost him his life (er, his afterlife), he comes out believing that he’s not going to stoop down to his enemies’ levels. He’s a healer, not a fighter.
This is one book that makes use of words rather than weapons when fighting your enemy. It shows that you don’t always have to bust out your guns and battle axes to win a fight. (I mean, yeah, they do do that, but hey, if another option’s available, all the better.)
I think Magnus learns more about himself and the world around him when he’s dead rather than when he was alive. As a homeless kid, you couldn’t blame him for being bitter and cynical about everything. He had nothing besides his two friends, Hearthstone and Blitzen, with him. But after becoming an einherji and accustoming himself to afterlife in Valhalla, he soon realises that a completely new world has opened up to him, and we’re not just talking about Norse mythology here. He meets all sorts of different people, of different skin colour and religion and gender orientations. He becomes more open-minded and learns to let more people into his life. And once he does, that’s it —you’ve got yourself a friend for life. Magnus is fiercely loyal.
I know that some people think he sounds a lot like Percy’s narrative voice, but actually, I can tell them apart better now. I feel like Magnus gains his own voice throughout the series.
⚓ Samirah al-Abbas
“I think the hardest thing we can ever do is see someone for who they really are. Our parents. Our friends. Ourselves.”
SAMIRAH IS A QUEEN.
A BADASS HIJABI VALKYRIE QUEEN.
WHAT HAS THE BOOK COMMUNITY DONE TO DESERVE SUCH A HEROINE??
The representation starts here, folks. An Arab-American Muslima protagonist in a fantasy novel. See, it’s not so hard.
Sam is honestly too pure for the bookish world. Despite being bullied at her school, called a terrorist because of her hijab, told to “go home” (she was born in the U.S. by the way), and dismissed as a Valkyrie because of her parentage at one point, she still sees the best in people. She doesn’t let her past nor her mistake define her. She holds on to her faith strongly and fights with bravery that could rival that of hundreds of Vikings.
There’s something so empowering about this, to finally see a Muslim girl of colour being represented so well. It’s so clear that Uncle Rick has done his research properly. And the fact that the events of this book take place during Ramadan! Samirah’s not only slaying giants and riding water horses and training to fight her father, but she’s doing it while fasting. (I was fasting while reading the book too, so that was cool.)
Also, as a Muslim myself, I can confirm that neither dwarf nor elf meat is halal. Just sayin’.
Sam’s crush on Amir is so cute?? And fluffy?? And heart-warming?? It was so refreshing to see a sweet romance that relied more on feelings rather than physical contact. I will probably never get over this halal romance because, uh, how can I? Amir is my son and he deserves all the love in the world. He cares for Samirah so much and that clearly shows. (Also, he makes falafel. This is a man of dreams, fellas.)
⚓ Alex Fierro
“And you have to flaunt the weird, my friends.”
I know, like, fifty Alex’s, all from different books, but honestly? Very few can share the top spot with my queer latinx queen Alex Fierro.
Alex Fierro is a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable storm. She’s transgender and genderfluid, and she’s not afraid to announce it to the world. He’s proud of who he is, no matter who dares look down on him for that (they’d be asking for death by decapitation, really) and, yes, she ‘flaunts the weird’ indeed.
I still can’t get over how absolutely cheeky and adorable Alex is. We also find out that she still holds on to her Mexican heritage and remembers her abuelo, much to the disapproval of her “butt-hat” father (Magnus’ words, not mind, but hey I totally agree). There’s a lot of depth behind her character, and her development is truly one of the best I’ve read. I especially liked her approach to the romance sub-plot. FierroChase is one of the purest ships ever for the sole reason that it’s not rushed, nor is it forced. In fact, Alex actually asks for space to think about it, which I loved. I don’t see many characters doing that. His maturity really shows.
“Alex perused the titles on the bookshelves.
‘Anything good?’ I asked.
He shrugged. ‘The Lord of the Rings. Not bad. Sylvia Plath. Nice. Oh, The Left Hand of Darkness. I love that book. The rest…meh. His collection is a little heavy on dead white males for my taste.’”
“HIS COLLECTION IS A LITTLE HEAVY ON DEAD WHITE MALES.”
(No, never mind. I’d rather not have a garrote wire be the last thing I see.)
Moving on to the plot—I really love Uncle Rick’s pacing. You never find any of his books to be ‘slow’ (at least, from what I remember), because there’s always stuff happening that keeps you on your toes. We have the quiet, emotional moments where we can see character developments, and those are always placed at the exact right time. Usually just before the action. Maybe some people thought the ending was ‘anti-climactic’, but not me. This was a creative twist on Uncle Rick’s part, and Magnus was so sweet and pure omg!!
As much as I’d love to write essays about the rest of the characters, I don’t wanna make this too long, so I’ll leave little tidbits instead!
⚓ Hearthstone “Hearth”
“Sometimes you lie to deceive people. Sometimes you lie because you need the lie to become the truth. I guessed Hearth was doing the latter.”
*screams* HEARTH MY CHILD!! MY ADORABLE ELF BABY WHO MUST BE PROTECTED ALL COSTS!! *wraps him in a fluffy blanket*
Is there a rune that makes you sob uncontrollably? Because yo, Hearth must have cast that on me or something.
Also, Hearth is a deaf elf, and I think the rep was wonderful! I really wanna learn ASL now.
⚓ Blitzen “Blitz”
“I am not dying in this outfit!”
Our fashionable mama hen dwarf. (WHAT IF HE AND ALEX TEAMED UP TO MAKE A FASHION LINE THOUGH??) I love him to death, and his friendship with Hearth is one of the best things about this book.
⚓ Thomas Jefferson Jr. “T.J.”
“You can’t hold on to hate forever. It won’t do a thing to the person you hate, but it’ll poison you, sure enough.”
DID I MENTION THAT THIS BOOK ALSO HIGHLIGHTS RACISM AND THE STRUGGLES THAT BLACK PEOPLE GO THROUGH?? AND DESPITE THAT T.J. REMAINS THE LITERAL EPITOME OF SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS?? MY CHILD!
Oh, and let’s not forget the writing style. Anything written by Uncle Rick is the opposite of boring, guys. This book is filled with hilarious commentary and it had me laughing out loud multiple times. He does an excellent job of drawing you into the plot with simple wit and humour.
“I always say, Eat chocolate first, destroy the world later.”
That’s my life motto now guys.
What are your thoughts about this series? Let me know!