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The Hammer of Thor

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The Hammer of Thor
The Hammer of Thor.jpg
U.S. cover of first edition.
AuthorRick Riordan
Cover artistJohn Rocco[1]
CountryUnited States
SeriesMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (book 2)
GenreFantasy, Norse mythology, Young adult
PublisherDisney Hyperion
Publication date
October 4, 2016[2]
Media typePrint (hardcover, paperback), audiobook, e-book
Pages528[1]
ISBN9781423160922
Preceded byThe Sword of Summer 
Followed byThe Ship of the Dead 

The Hammer of Thor is an American young-adult fantasy novel based on Norse mythology written by Rick Riordan. It was published on October 4, 2016 as a hardcover, audiobook, and ebook, and is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

The novel takes place six weeks after the events of the preceding story, The Sword of Summer, and chronicles Magnus Chase's quest to retrieve the missing hammer of Thor and prevent Loki's rise to power. Since its release, the novel has been translated into 15 languages, and re-released in a boxed set and as a paperback.

The Hammer of Thor received positive reviews from critics, who praised its inclusion of diverse characters such as the genderfluid character Alex Fierro, Muslim Samirah al-Abbas, and deaf-mute Hearthstone, but also noted its trite and repetitive plot that did not help readers progress through the series' overall story arc. The book won the 2017 Stonewall Book Award for Children's literature for its portrayal of Alex as was a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for 2016. A sequel, The Ship of the Dead, was released on October 3, 2017.

Plot summary[edit]

The book opens six weeks after the close of the preceding novel, The Sword of Summer. Magnus Chase meets with Samirah "Sam" al-Abbas and Otis, one of the god Thor's two goats, who inform the heroes Thor's hammer is still missing.[3] The jötnar are beginning to suspect Thor does not have his weapon to defend Midgard and plan to invade. On Otis's advice, Sam and Magnus visit a Norse barrow in Provincetown. Magnus returns to Hotel Valhalla to rest and prepare, where he meets Alex Fierro, Sam's newest einherji recruit and a genderfluid child of Loki. While in Valhalla, Magnus has dreamlike visions of Loki manipulating his uncle Randolph. Loki also tells Magnus about a wedding between Samirah and the giant Thrym in five days, and that Magnus will need to bring the bride-price. Magnus, Sam, and their friends Blitzen and Hearthstone travel to the Provincetown barrow but discover the Skofnung Sword instead of Thor's hammer. Loki appears and tells the quartet the sword and matching whetstone will be Sam's bride-price. They are reluctant to help Loki, who causes Randolph Chase to wound Blitzen with the sword.

Because wounds caused by the sword can only be healed by its whetstone, the four are forced to hunt for this stone. Hearth, Magnus, and a Blitz in stone travel to Alfheim. There, Magnus learns the stone is in the possession of Hearth's father, Alderman. Alderman insists Hearth repay a wergild he owes because (in Alderman's view) of not defending his younger brother Andiron of a Brunnmigi, who killed the young boy, before he may take the stone. Magnus and Hearthstone track down a dwarf named Andvari and force him to give them his treasure, which they use to repay Hearth's debt. With the stone, they heal Blitzen. After escaping Alderman, who has been driven insane by Andvari's cursed ring, the trio returns to Midgard. With Alex and Sam, Magnus visits the god Heimdall to locate Utgard-Loki. Rejoining Blitz and Hearth, Magnus's quest group then travels to Utgard-Loki; after completing some tasks to prove their worth, the giant king tells them Thrym has Thor's hammer to be given to the bride as part of the traditional Norse wedding ritual and helps them track Thrym. To retrieve the hammer and stop the giants' invasion of Midgard, the quest group must go through with the wedding and deliver the Skofnung Sword to Loki.

The goddess Sif arrives and transports the mortals to Asgard. They explain the situation to Thor, who agrees to help them trick Thrym and retrieve the hammer. Since Samirah is already betrothed, Alex volunteers to act as the bride because she[a] is a daughter of Loki. The group travels to the cave where Loki is bound. Although they find the hammer, Loki forces Randolph to use the Skofnung Sword to cut his bonds. Magnus's hallmates and a group of gods arrive and defeat the giants, but Loki escapes and Randolph is killed by the spirits of the sword. The mortals and einherjar return to Hotel Valhalla and are told by Helgi their next mission will be to find and attempt to recapture Loki, who has gone to find the boat Naglfar, Magnus contacts his cousin Annabeth to ask for help from her boyfriend Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon.[4]

Characters[edit]

  • Magnus Chase – einherjar son of the Norse god Frey and the human Natalie Chase. He is gifted with healing powers and resistance to extreme temperatures, and works with the sword Sumarbrander.[4]
  • Samirah "Sam" al-AbbasValkyrie daughter of Loki and a human doctor. Sam is Muslim and hopes to become an aircraft pilot.[5] She also performs special side missions for the god Odin.[4]
  • Alex Fierro – a genderfluid einherjar, whose mother was Loki. Throughout the novel, the character is referred to as either "he" or "she" depending on his/her current gender, rather than with a mix of pronouns or the singular they. Alex enjoys pottery and uses a pottery wire-turned garrote as a weapon and also shapeshifts, like his/her mother.[4]
  • Blitzen "Blitz" – a dwarf and the son of the dwarf Bilì and the goddess Freya, making him Magnus's cousin. Blitz owns and operates a fashionwear store called "Blitzen's Best" in Boston.[4]
  • Hearthstone "Hearth" – an elf, son of the influential elf Alderman. He is deaf-mute – which his parents always resented, especially after the death of their younger son Andiron.[5] He speaks Alf Sign Language and uses magic by casting runestones.[4]
  • Jack (Sumarbrander) – formerly the sword of Frey, now in possession of the god's son Magnus. Sumarbrander chose the name "Jack" when Magnus took possession of him. The sword is capable of fighting, talking, and flying about on its own, but the next person to hold it experiences fatigue as a result of Jack's actions.[4]
  • Randolph Chase – Magnus's uncle. Loki blackmails Randolph into helping him by promising to bring back the man's deceased wife and daughters.[4]

Composition and marketing[edit]

Before the release of The Sword of Summer, the first book in his series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, author Rick Riordan had plans to publish a trilogy, while acknowledging that Percy Jackson was planned as a trilogy.[6] The sequel was teased in the back pages of The Sword of Summer, the first novel in the series.[3]

Entertainment Weekly released an excerpt of the first chapter and the cover of The Hammer of Thor on April 28, 2016, along with an interview with Riordan.[7][8] Penguin Books Australia also released a book trailer for The Hammer of Thor on YouTube on September 25, 2016. The trailer is an animated short with a narration explaining the concept of Yggdrasil.[9] To promote The Hammer of Thor, Riordan went on a nine-day tour in the United States beginning October 4, 2016.[10][11] The tour promoted both the new novel and Riordan's new imprint Rick Riordan Presents.[10][11]

Riordan also attended the Iowa Book Festival on October 7, where he announced the title of the third book in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Ship of the Dead.[11][12] In a radio interview conducted in Iowa City, Riordan discussed his character choices and the kinds of themes he wanted to present in the series, including increased awareness of Muslim-American issues, and his inspiration and writing method. He also highlighted the differences between his approach to Norse mythology and that of other popular media series such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which he described as "fast and loose".[13]

Release[edit]

The Hammer of Thor was first published as a hardcover in the United States on October 4, 2016, with cover illustration by John Rocco and interior rune illustrations by Michelle Gengaro-Kokmen.[1] Ebook and audiobook editions were released the same day.[14][15] The audiobook is read by actor Kieran Culkin and published by Listening Library.[14][16]

The Hammer of Thor sold more than 58,000 copies during the first week.[17] Upon release, the book ranked No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list,[18] No. 2 on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list,[17] and No. 3 on the USA Today bestseller list,[19] remaining on the former for 17 weeks[20] (being in the first position for three weeks immediately after its release).[21] It peaked at No. 6 in the Amazon's Children's Bestsellers list in the United Kingdom the week of its publication.[22] It peaked at No. 5 on the Los Angeles Times list and remained in it for eight weeks.[23] By the end of 2016, the book sold more than 298,000 copies.[24]

In the United Kingdom and Australia, English-language editions in hardcover were also released October 4 by Puffin Books.[25] A paperback edition was released by Puffin on October 5, 2017.[25] To date, editions have also been released in Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Danish, Bulgarian, Turkish, and Hebrew.[15] Although many non-English editions used John Rocco's cover art, a few – and the Puffin editions – have unique covers by other illustrators.[15]

The book was recommended as a holiday gift by the Los Angeles Times.[26] On January 1, 2017, The Hammer of Thor returned to the newspaper bestseller list at No. 19,[27] and to No. 7 on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list in March 2017.[24] The book received a Lexile score of 690L, making it age- and difficulty-appropriate for the average 8-13 year-old.[28]

Reception[edit]

The novel received positive reviews, many of which praised Riordan's newly diverse characters. Maggie Reagan of Booklist wrote, "Riordan combines Norse mythology with a number of social issues: [gender fluidity, disability, and race and religion]", calling the book "a surefire hit".[5] Kirkus Reviews gave The Hammer of Thor a starred review and praised the interposed religious and sexual complexity in the Norse mythological world introduced using characters such as Alex and Samirah, while also writing that Magnus is a distinct character when compared with Riordan's other protagonists.[29] Hypable praised the depth of the storyline, the characters' diversity – particularly Alex Fierro – and the familial love between the characters.[30]

Todd Kleiboer of The East Texan, the student newspaper of Texas A&M University-Commerce, claimed that although Riordan does well to include such diverse characters as the Muslim Samirah and genderfluid Alex, the author runs the risk of making his readers believe such characters are representative of their "group" by portraying only one example of each "type" of person. He continues, "Young adult readers may have no contact with the Muslim or transgender population outside of literature, and most will take Samirah or Alex as representatives. However, Riordan counters this by portraying characters that do not fall into stereotypes and perhaps illuminate the diversity of people on Midgard–or Earth."[31]

Despite the praise for Riordan's new diversity, reviewers criticized other aspects of the novel. Claire Yu of the Central Times said in her review, "I want to thank Rick Riordan for giving us such a diverse set of characters, and how he emphasizes on the importance of other cultures", but also said she feels the "special something" of Riordan's typical humor writing is missing from the book. She calls the plot "repetitive" and "not ... filled with the same energy and vigour as its predecessors".[32] Fantasy Literature similarly praised the book's sensitive approach to delicate issues and its continuation of Riordan's humorous style but criticized the book for its small part in expanding the over-reaching plot of the series.[33] Common Sense Media, which gave the book four stars out of five, praised the continued inclusion of diverse characters and storylines but criticized the lack of character development for Magnus.[34]

The Hammer of Thor won the Stonewall Book Award for Children's Literature, which are granted to works of merit for children or teenagers relating to LGBTQ experience.[35][36] The award was granted for the depiction of the genderfluid teenage character Alex Fierro.[37][38] When asked about his decision to include Alex, Riordan said, "There’s lots of kinds of kids out there, and my feeling is that all of them deserve to be able to see themselves in stories".[39] An official announcement by the American Library Association said, "Alex is a hero and represents the expansive possibilities of gender for future generations".[37] The novel was also nominated for Best Middle Grade & Children's Book of 2016 in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and ended in third place, behind The Hidden Oracle (another book by Riordan) and Pax.[40]

Sequel[edit]

The sequel, The Ship of the Dead, was released on October 3, 2017.[41] The book ranked No.  2 on USA Today's bestseller list after its release[42] and was considered one of the best books of the year by Barnes & Noble.[43] It also won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade & Children's.[44] On October 17, 2017, the three books of the series were released as a boxed set.[45]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alex chooses to go by both the pronounce he and she depending on which gender Alex is identifying with. Alex explicitly chooses not to use they.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Hammer of Thor". Read Riordan. Archived from the original on January 23, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2 the Hammer of Thor". Publishers Weekly Online. Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 23, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Riordan, Rick (2015). The Sword of Summer. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4231-6091-5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Riordan, Rick (2016). The Hammer of Thor. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4231-6092-2.
  5. ^ a b c "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan – Booklist Online". Booklist Online. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  6. ^ Corbett, Sue (September 25, 2015). "Rick Riordan: Storyteller of the Gods". Industry News. Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  7. ^ Holub, Chrustian. "Rick Riordan previews 'Magnus Chase' sequel, 'The Hammer of Thor'". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Rought, Karen (April 28, 2016). "First look at 'Magnus Chase: The Hammer of Thor' by Rick Riordan". Hypable. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  9. ^ Books, Disney (September 25, 2016). "Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor – Official Trailer". Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b Corbett, Sue (September 13, 2016). "Disney Announces New Rick Riordan Imprint". Publisher's Weekly. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Kuennen, Alyson (October 31, 2016). "Rick Riordan brings stories to Iowa City". The Gazette. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Berg, Zach (July 8, 2016). "'Percy Jackson' author coming to Iowa City Book Festival". Press Citizen. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Riordan, Rick (October 12, 2016). "Olympians, Gods and Dyslexia: Rick Riordan Talks About Fiction and Family". Talk of Iowa (Interview). Interviewed by Charity Nebbe. Iowa City, Iowa. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  14. ^ a b "The Hammer of Thor". Audible. Amazon. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c "Editions of The Hammer of Thor". Goodreads Editions Viewer. Goodreads. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Maughan, S. (August 2016). "A LOOK AT AUDIO IN PRODUCTION". Publishers Weekly. 263 (33): 22. ISSN 0000-0019.
  17. ^ a b Juris, Carolyn (October 14, 2016). "This Week's Bestsellers: October 17, 2016". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  18. ^ "Children's Middle Grade Hardcover bestsellers". New York Times. October 23, 2016. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018.
  19. ^ "The Hammer of Thor: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard". USA Today. October 13, 2016. Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  20. ^ "Children's Middle Grade Hardcover bestsellers". The New York Times. February 12, 2017. Archived from the original on April 9, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  21. ^ Riordan, Rick (October 26, 2016). "Hammer of Thor is a #1 Bestseller!". RickRiordan.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  22. ^ "Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor". Frontlist.net. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  23. ^ "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard:The Hammer of Thor". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 30, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Kantor, Emma (March 23, 2017). "Facts and Figures 2016: Children's Bestsellers Reflect Booming Backlists and Reinvigorated Franchises". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor (Book 2)". Puffin Books. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  26. ^ "Holiday Books Gift Guide:The hottest books for young adults, middle-graders and gorgeous new picture books". Los Angeles Times. December 1, 2016. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  27. ^ "Bestsellers List: Jan. 1, 2017". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  28. ^ "The Hammer of Thor". Lexile Framework for Reading. MetaMetrics, Inc. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  29. ^ "THE HAMMER OF THOR by Rick Riordan – Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. October 13, 2016. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  30. ^ Rought, Karen (October 15, 2016). "Book review: 'The Hammer of Thor' by Rick Riordan". Hypable. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  31. ^ Kleiboer, Todd (September 18, 2017). "Magnus Chase Brings the Hammer Down". The East Texan. Archived from the original on January 2, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  32. ^ Yu, Claire (December 13, 2016). "Book Review: "The Hammer of Thor"". Central Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  33. ^ Jones, Tadiana; Nyman, Jana (October 25, 2016). "The Hammer of Thor: It's Hammer Time in the Nine Worlds". Fantasy Literature. Archived from the original on January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Wheadon, Carrie R. "The Hammer of Thor: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2 – Book Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  35. ^ "Additional ALA Awards 2017". The Horn Book. January 23, 2017. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  36. ^ "Winners of the 2017 Youth Media Awards – ALA Midwinter 2017 – School Library Journal". School Library Journal. January 23, 2017. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  37. ^ a b Morales, Macey (January 23, 2017). "'Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor' and 'If I Was Your Girl' win 2017 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award". American Library Association. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  38. ^ Roback, Diane (January 23, 2017). "Barnhill, Steptoe, 'March: Book Three' Win Newbery, Caldecott, Printz". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on April 9, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  39. ^ Moore, Joey (October 8, 2017). "Rick Riordan talks new book, "The Ship of the Dead"". Technician. North Carolina State University. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  40. ^ "Best Middle Grade & Children's". Goodreads Choice Awards 2016. Goodreads. Archived from the original on January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  41. ^ "The Ship of the Dead – Rick Riordan". Rickriordan.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  42. ^ "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  43. ^ "Barnes & Noble Announces the Best Books of 2017". Business Wire. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  44. ^ "Best Middle Grade & Children's". Goodreads Choice Awards 2017. Goodreads. Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  45. ^ "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Hardcover Boxed Set". Frontlist.net. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.

External links[edit]