I‘m almost finished with Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of Thor, the second book in the Magnus Chase series. This book was just what I needed. I’m really appreciating Riordan’s relentlessly cheeky sense of humor. That said, I had reservations early in the book.
The two main characters in the book are Magnus Chase, formerly homeless hero, and Sam, a Muslim Valkyrie. For some reason, that character didn’t bother me. Like Magnus Chase, she is the child of a Norse god but unlike Chase Sam does not consider her father a god. He may be really powerful, but as far as Sam is concerned there is only one God.
Both of these characters are from book #1 in the series but when Riordan introduced a new character, I felt like he might have a checklist going. Person of Color, preferably Muslim — Check/Sam. LGBQT or Gender Fluid character — Check/Alex. Like Magnus, Alex is also a demigod but Alex is also transgender and gender fluid. I briefly felt like Riordan was just trying too hard to hit all the diversity high points.
But I was so appreciating the humor that I kept going and I have to say that I’m glad I did. Why? Because I feel like I came to a hasty judgement.
In part, this is because I really like the character. Like my brother-in-law, Alex is a potter. Alex is also more than a little cheeky with personality to spare. Riordan didn’t just slap the label transgender on a character. This is truly a part of who Alex is and that is reflected in choice of art form, tattoo/symbol and more. It also explains the total melt down the character has upon becoming a resident of Valhalla.
When you create a “diverse” character, you have to make them completely 3 dimensional and believable. You have to make whatever trait it is that makes them diverse truly a part of them. In short, you have to make them a strong character just like you would with any other character in your story.
I’m guessing that Riordan didn’t need me to tell him that.