Rather than a single tale, what we have here is a compilation of bite-sized biographies and illuminating short stories, all intended to help orient Magnus Chase fans and expand on Riordan’s existing worldbuilding. It is framed as a tool given to guests of the Hotel Valhalla, in an effort to help them adjust to their eternal stay (and prevent them from pestering the hotel staff with an excess of inquiries.) Think of it as a cheeky afterlife FAQ.
Riordan’s prose makes a consistent effort to both entertain and give an educational base introduction to Norse gods, giants, elves, the world tree, great beasts, quasi-immortal origins, and ancient rivalries. The glossary of terms in the back even offers the correct pronunciation of every tongue-twisting Scandanavian and Germanic term mentioned.
My favorite part, hands down, was the Fantastic Creatures section.
"Our menagerie of beasts fall into three categories: notable, regrettable, and edible. Notable ones make worthwhile contributions to the worlds or are significant for other reasons. Those that are regrettable are alarming in every possible way--some more so than others. As for the edible creatures, well, I think that category is self-explanatory."
My only regret was the lack of visual aid on the order of the character sketches we’d seen earlier on in the book. Instead we get monster bios with vague descriptions of their physicalities, and more extensive mentioning of their dispositions. Sketches would have been a nice (and consistent) added touch.
While it may be on the spendy side for those just looking for a Nordic Myth primer, I could see this handsome little hardback being a welcome addition to the collection of any Rick Riordan enthusiast.