I first read The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan in June 2018, and this review was originally posted on my Goodreads account then. Some minor edits have been made to this review.
I admit it. I, a twentysomething college graduate, am a little bit obsessed with a book series intended for middle-schoolers. And I am proud.
This book was just about the best conclusion to this trilogy I could have hoped for — it had humor, thoughtful moments, a great adventure, and delightful characters. Things set up in the first two books were revisited, characters and relationships were developed, and conflict came to a really exciting, satisfying (if slightly cheesy, but I still liked it) final showdown.
I loved getting more backstory on the other einherjar — though we’ve known them the entire series, we haven’t got to really explore the nuances and details of their personalities in depth until now. My favorite part of that aspect is the conversation between Magnus and TJ about the Confederate soldiers and about hatred. It is so well-written, moving, and rather timely. Excellent scene. I also enjoyed hearing more about Mallory’s and Halfborn’s backstories! Riordan has done such a good job especially in this trilogy, crafting well-rounded, unique characters, even for those with more minor roles to play. None of them are mere tokens, all of them are so important in Magnus’ journey, and I love them all.
Oh man, and the battle in Alfheim… the monster was slain ALONG WITH MY HEART. The “you’re perfect” line hit me so hard, ugh. I have so many feelings about that side-story, and the resolution of it is stunning and moving. (Trying so hard to avoid spoilers here.)
In addition to these more emotional scenes, we also had a lot of humor as usual. Lots of it comes from Magnus’ delightfully self-deprecating narrative voice, but a lot also originates from the plot and quirks of Norse mythology itself — just look at the murder of crows or… just everything about Thor.
In the end, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard might be my favorite series by Rick Riordan, which I did not expect at all considering how much I enjoy Trials of Apollo. It was an awesome surprise, though. And The Ship of the Dead was amazing.
P.S. while I never, ever, ever want to actually go to Niflheim… it’s still my favorite of the Nine Worlds. You know, because reasons. 😉
Overall rating: 9.5/10
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