The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3) / ★★★★★
Summary: Magnus, his best friends Samirah and Alex, and the rest of his crew, must sale across the Atlantic to prevent Loki from sailing his own ship and setting the end of the world into motion.
No matter how magical Kvasir’s Mead was, how could it possible help me beat Loki at his own game?
No pressure, of course. If I lost I’d just be reduced to a shadow of myself and imprisoned in Helheim while all my friends died and Ragnorok destroyed the Nine Worlds.
I love reading Rick Riordan’s books because I feel as if I shed myself of my Critical Reviewer lens and just hop on his crazy mythology train and accept whatever it is he throws at me. And before I go into the plot, I have to say it’s all about the characters. The plot of this book is perfectly middle-grade, which I love, but if Rick didn’t have a way of creating very intriguing and diverse characters, I wouldn’t particularly care for the goofy spin on the mythology in these books. And I’m not just saying that as an adult reader of a middle grade book, because kid-Steph felt the same way about action and plot and character. I don’t generally read middle-grade books besides Rick Riordan’s, and it’s because I love his characters so dang much. I love the way his wacky spins on mythology and plot reveal the hearts and inner-workings of his characters.
Like the previous two books in this series. Ship of the Dead does exactly that. These books are so character driven, even when they deal with fate and destiny and plans set by gods. I could feel the spirit of Norse mythology in these books, as opposed the (arguably) more rigid way he portrayed Greek mythology. Every trial, every action scene reveals something about a character’s past, about who they want to be and what they’re trying to escape, and it brings out their vulnerability to one another. I loved the fuzziness between good and evil, between right and wrong, and that sometimes the best the characters could do is respect and support each other, even if they disagreed. This book has a journey plot, which I loved, and I loved how made the bonds between the characters so much tighter. This book is ridiculous, it’s goofy, it’s funny, and it warmed my heart. I loved the “final showdown” so much. I wish this wasn’t the last Magnus Chase book (or is it….? It certainly felt like it was alluding to something more at the end there).
Like I said, I love these characters and they’re the driving force for me in these books. There isn’t one I didn’t enjoy, or one that didn’t have some kind of effect on me. I loved all of the development throughout the series, and it in this book alone. And it wasn’t just the main characters, it was EVERYONE. We got to see Hearthstone and Blitzen and Mallory Keen and T.J. develop so much. I love all the different personalities running around together.
I loved seeing the characters really grow into themselves, accept their strengths and differences and embrace them. I loved that Magnus wasn’t a brute force fighter, was would rather have avoided most confrontation, and relied on peace. I loved the juxtaposition between Sam and Alex as children of Loki, but who both completely embraced themselves in similar and in different ways, and how they grew from one another. And I loved the relationships between the three of them, as individual pairings and as a team of three, and how very different the three of them are (Muslin, Atheist, gender-fluid, all with different levels of temperament). I loved the romance and how even that wasn’t your average, tightly knit ending. I thought it was perfect.
And can I just say how much I loved Hearthstone’s character arc? The plotline with his father? A+. My favorite.
As usual Rick Riordan dazzles me with his goofy portrayals of mythological creatures while remaining very poignant when it comes to emotional description and development of character.
Was I satisfied?
Yes! I loved this series with all my heart, more than any other of Rick Riordan’s. The Ship of the Dead was a classically goofy and heartwarming ending to the series. I love the characters and I laughed a lot. AND I learned about Norse mythology, how about that.