Oh my goodness there are quite a few disclaimers for this book. First and foremost the ending does have spoilers for The Heroes of Olympus series. I believe now that Riordan intended for his audience to read the books in order so I won’t be finishing the series until I read the previous series unfortunately. There is also quite a bit of social commentary in this story. It’s not subtle about it either but I found it strengthened the story rather than detract from it. Those with an open mind will come to enjoy The Hammer of Thor and come out satisfied with a well written story.
Riordan continues his trend of creating and developing endearing and wonderful characters. There’s a consistent theme of family for Riordan’s characters and Magnus struggles with this both in his own family and that of his friends. No one has a kind and stable family it seems but how Magnus and company handle it speaks volumes about them as people. Magnus is a very kind and understanding character and it fits with his background. I was genuinely happy to see him written as a kind, curious and ultimately respectful person when it came thing things he didn’t understand.
Ultimately that brings us to Alex Fierro, the first gender fluid character I’ve encountered in literature. The way Riordan approached the subject not only felt respectful and natural, it also served both the character development of Alex and Magnus as well as the plot. Alex came off as a fully realized character with her own struggles and motivation. I was afraid she would come off as a plot device and simply included to represent diversity, however Magnus asks her questions about what it means to be gender fluid and their discussion felt well thought out and respectful to those of us that are gender fluid. However, I say this as someone who is not entirely familiar with the term or the implications so my judgment may not be the best.
The Hammer of Thor is a rather complicated story as there are so many twists, turns and surprises that keep the reader guessing. Family is the core focus of the story and it shows as Magnus and friends are confronted by problems each of their families pose. But what I love is that they approach these challenges as a found family with each other. The tenderness and care they show one another throughout the story leave the reader with a warm and almost optimistic feeling. The world can be hard and cruel but friends are a chosen family.
The story is very much what I would call a Riordan special. It’s very similar to The Odyssey where the cast of characters travel from location to location and encounter wild and powerful enemies and allies. It helps to keep the story fresh and lively as it almost feels like a collection of miniature stories in one grand tale. It also follows a few of the old Norse Mythology stories which I didn’t find surprising however how they were interwoven into the main story I thought was well done.
As mentioned, Magnus and friends travel across the nine worlds once more and encounter various trials and tribulations as they do. However, it becomes clear that the setting in The Hammer of Thor takes a backseat as character development is at the forefront. As to be expected the background elements are full of Norse Myths interwoven with modern day tropes. One moment I thought was interesting was how a particular area was written to be like a modern day rich 1% neighborhood where someone would call the cops if they see someone who doesn’t belong there walking around. It’s a very social commentary moment that is pretty familiar territory for story telling which I have no issue with, however I felt that it lacked a fantastical feel to it. This is a series based on Norse Mythology, but this specific place felt far too modern day first world rather than unique and interesting. Ultimately, it’s a small nitpick however it did bother me.
The amount of sarcasm and jokes interwoven with the first-person perspective is wonderful and entertaining as always. I genuinely found myself chuckling at a few lines from the cast of characters. As always, Hearthstone has become my favorite character. The way ASL (American Sign Language) is interwoven into the conversation for hilarious interactions between those who understand it and those who don’t feels well thought out and funny.
Each chapter is short and the way the paragraphs are constructed never makes it feel tiring. I found myself able to read chapter to chapter without ever feeling tired or worn out by an exposition dump. Everything feels tight and well thought out however there’s only one major criticism I can think of that continues from the first. It’s not enough to ruin the story for anyone, however it is an issue for those unfamiliar with it. There are many pop culture references within the writing that those unfamiliar with North American culture may find confusing. It doesn’t ruin the story but it could make for some very confusing moments.