Book Review: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

Posted November 8, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3
Genres: Mythic Fantasy
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 3, 2017
Pages: 423
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: The House of Hades, The Hidden Oracle, The Titan's Curse, The Sword of Summer, The Hammer of Thor, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian, The Dark Prophecy

Third in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard mythic fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around a young man who died a hero…and “lives on” to save the world.

My Take

It’s all about friendship and loyalty. Depending on those around you to work together as a team, for even as Riordan uses first-person protagonist point-of-view from Magnus’ perspective, Riordan still gives voice to the team. Who are, ahem, quite self-deprecating…and snarky. Lordy, I do enjoy that snark. Reminds me of home, lol.

Everybody’s a character, especially Jack! And, oh boy, do we ever learn a lot. About how T.J., Mallory, and Halfborn met their dooms, what led up to them. About Alex’s past. About the qualities each brings to floor nineteen.

Other minor conflicts include Magnus with his own issues in believing in himself, a break-up within the team, Sam’s and Alex’s parental issues, Sam’s adherence to her faith, lovelorn gods, and those who want love in return.

”The whole point of saying [God is greater] is to remind yourself that God is greater than whatever you are facing — your fears, your problems, your thirst, your hunger, your anger.”

All in all, it’s great fun as Magnus and company must collect plot coupons and undergo a wide variety of adventures from Alex and Magnus’ meet-up at his uncle’s house, unfolding the Big Banana, the sea god’s daughters’ unlooked-for enthusiasm, and the essentials for the quest to be successful.

The flyting was different. No exactly how I would have expected a contest of insults to go, but it’s definitely a good example for the kids.

It’s a good ending, especially with Magnus’ decision with Annabeth as to what to do with Uncle Randolph’s mansion.

The Story

Loki is awaiting his chance to set sail, and Magnus and his team must find him. For if Loki succeeds, Ragnörak will begin…our world — all Nine Worlds — will end.

It all depends on Magnus in the end. Will Kvasir’s Mead lend Magnus’ tongue wings or will the world go down in flames?

The Characters

Magnus Chase is now an einherji with healing powers (that carry an unwelcome side effect) and lives at the Hotel Valhalla in Boston, in between saving the world. Jack, Sumarbrander (a.k.a., the Sword of Summer), is his enchanted sword. Natalie Chase was Magnus’ mother. Uncle Randolph Chase was the betrayer, desperate to reunite with his deceased wife, Caroline, and his children, Emma and Aubrey. Frederick Chase is another of the siblings and is Annabeth’s father.

The friends who set out on the Big Banana with Magnus include:
Alex Fierro, a gender-fluid person with more snark than most schools; s/he has Loki for a mother. Her father inherited Fierro Ceramics, a company started by her grandfather. Samirah “Sam” al-Abbas is a Muslim Valkyrie who can fly and command horses with Loki as her father; she’s engaged to Amir Fadlan. Thomas “T.J.” Jefferson, Jr., a Black, fought in the Civil War on the Union side. Mallory “MackKeen is scary good with a knife. Halfborn Gunderson is a berserker who carries Battle-Ax and had served with Ivar the Boneless.

Hearthstone is a mute elf who practices magic, and Blitzen is his good dwarf friend with an eye for fashion. Both became friendly with Magnus when he was homeless. Mimir is part of the interdimensional mafia.

The Hotel Valhalla is…
…set in Boston where the einherjar battle to the death over everything. Every day. The hotel manager is Helgi; Hunding is his long-suffering assistant; and, Erik the Green is from floor 135.

Percy Jackson, a demigod son of Poseidon, and Annabeth Chase, Magnus’ cousin and a daughter of Athena from Percy Jackson & the Olympians, appear; they’re living in New York. Riptide is Percy’s sword/pen. Percy’s mom just had a baby girl, Estelle, with her new husband, Paul Blofis. Frank, a shape-shifter friend, and Jason are mentioned.

The Nine Worlds are…

…the different planes for the elves, dwarves, giants, etc. Odin is the leader of the Norse gods with Munin and Hunin perched on his shoulders. He’s also known as Bolverk. Vili and Ve are Odin’s brothers. Sif is a goddess. Kvasir was a living peace treaty whose blood made a most excellent mead, Kvasir’s Mead. Drinking this mead will help you find your inner poet, so the words come trippingly off your tongue. He was slaughtered by two dwarves: Fjalar and Gjalar. Frey is the god of summer. Njord, the positive sea god, has the beautiful feet. Tyr is a god of war.

Aegir is the god of the sea, a jotun married to Ran, a Norse sea goddess obsessed with her nets and junk. Their daughters include the Nine Giantesses of the Waves: Himminglaeva, Hefring, Hrönn, Unn, Bylgya, Kolga, and Blodughadda. Eldir is the only cook now that Finnafeng is gone.

Kymopoleia is a storm goddess. Heimdall is the guardian of the Bifrost Bridge, a.k.a., Rainbow Bridge, who carries Ghallar, the Horn of Doomsday — and loves taking selfies.

Alfheim is…
…the home of the elves. Inge was a hulder, and Mr. Alderman’s house servant. Alderman was Hearthstone’s horribly, horribly, horrible father, who gets what’s coming to him. Nisser are brownies (smell like ‘em too), hobs, di sma. Andiron is the older brother who drowned.

Thunder Home, a.k.a., Thrymheimr, is…
…the fortress where Thjassi’s ice giantess daughter, Skadi, lives. She was Njord’s prize.

The Ship of Nails is…
…also known as Naglfar, and is made of toenails and fingernails of the dishonored dead, a ship of death. Hyrm is the captain of the ship. Surt is a fire giant and owns the Ship of Nails. Loki is a trickster god who can be male or female. Sigyn is his long-suffering wife.

Hrungir is a giant in Jorvik who knows where to find the mead. “Pottery Barn” is the ceramic partner Alex creates while Mokkerkalfe is Hrungir’s partner. Baugi and Suttung are brothers and more giants. Gunlond is Suttung’s angry daughter whose son is Bragi, the god of poetry. Red, Tattoo, and seven other giants are their thralls. Godfrey and Bill are two of the four erudite crows.

Lieutenant Jeffrey Toussaint fought on the side of the Confederacy. Joey Kelso had been in Magnus’ eighth grade biology class. Theodore is a goat, and not one of Thor’s. Adrian was a friend of Alex’s who committed suicide. Stanley is an eight-legged horse.

An einherji is a warrior of Odin; only those who die a hero’s death may apply. Being an einherji means EVERYthing is fought to the death. Cooking, shuffleboard, painting… Ragnörak is the inevitable battle looming at the end of the world. The Norse glamour is known as the Mist in the Greek pantheon. A flyting is a contest of insults. Vatnavaettir are water horses. Jorvik is York, England. Wyrd is fate. Chase Space is a residence for homeless youth. Blitzen’s Best is a fashion shop.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a storm at sea…at night under a tiny full moon on the left against a backdrop of deep blue and green skies, lightning forks, and a gigantic head of Loki, which looms above a shield-lined Viking ship crashing through the waves while Magnus, in an orange T, a dark suit jacket, and torn jeans, stands ready, Jack in hand, braced on a pile of rocks. The author’s name is at the very top in a yellow orange with the series name ABSOLUTELY HUGE in an embossed silver immediately beneath. You can almost find the tiny title, also in embossed silver, at the very bottom. I do hate how Riordan has the series information so big, as I’m always thinking it’s the title.

The title is terrifying, for it is The Ship of the Dead which Magnus and friends must find and defeat.

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