Heroes of Olympus

The fifth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, also the last book in the Percy Jackson saga, was released last week. I was super-excited to find out how it would all come to an end, but I am now filled with a great sadness at the thought of never again reading about young Percy and his mythological adventures. #Sadface

Here’s a quick recap of the first four books, which I read last year, and then a review of the fifth and some reflections on how the two Percy series have changed my life for the better. #Dramatic #Sadfaceagain

Book 1: The Lost Hero

Several months after Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and their demigod friends defeat Kronos in the battle to save Olympus, Percy is nowhere to be found. Instead we encounter Jason Grace, who has no idea who he is or how he got here, wherever “here” is; Piper, who loves Jason and is sad he doesn’t remember her; and Leo, a class clown with a dark past. We quickly learn about each new character’s godly parent: Jason appears to be a son of Zeus, but he has a funny tattoo on his arm that says “SPQR” and tends to call the Greek gods by their Roman names; Piper is a rare daughter of Aphrodite in that she isn’t completely obsessed with herself; Leo is a mechanically gifted son of Hephaestus with the power to create fire. The three are quickly whisked away to Camp Half-Blood, but Jason’s presence there is disturbing to Chiron, Annabeth and his own damn self; it just feels wrong. As Annabeth sets out on her own to find Percy, Jason receives a quest to rescue Hera, who has been captured by the ancient earth goddess Gaea and her minions. After going up against untrustworthy wind gods and legendary figures who have somehow returned from the dead (does the name Midas ring any bells?), Jason and friends finally find and rescue Hera, who was not completely honest about the nature of this quest. And Gaea, being primordial and all, is not defeated for long.

Book 2: The Son of Neptune

While Jason is off rescuing Hera, Percy Jackson — who also has no idea who he is or how he got here, wherever “here” is — is hanging out with wolves on the other side of the country. At the end of the first book it becomes glaringly obvious that Hera/Juno (her Roman counterpart) exchanged Percy Jackson for Jason Grace so that the Greek and Roman demigod camps, which have been separated for centuries due to some very bad blood, could a) learn about each other’s existence and b) get over the bad blood and come together to defeat Gaea. This second book focuses on Percy’s time at Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Half-Blood, set in Northern California and modeled after — you guessed it — Ancient Rome. Percy makes new friends in Hazel, a back-from-the-dead daughter of Pluto (Hades) and sister of shady Nico di Angelo, and Frank, a son of Mars (Ares) with a dark family secret. The three are given a quest to go to “the land beyond the gods” (Alaska) to rescue Thanatos, who has been captured by Gaea/her employees so that all the dead — demigods, mortals, monsters, oh my! — could return to Earth. The quest is small potatoes compared to what occurs at the end of the book, though: Jason, Piper, Leo and Annabeth entering the Roman camp via a flying war ship, the Argo II. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!

Book 3: The Mark of Athena

Greek demigods entering the Roman camp doesn’t go over well, especially when one of them (due to evil spirit possession) launches an attack. Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank and Leo quickly escape the conflict and board the ship to sail west to the ancient lands, where none of them are actually supposed to go. They make a few pit stops in Atlanta, where they get into quite a mess at the aquarium, and Charleston, where Aphrodite pays a little visit. Honestly, this third book starts off a little slow, but it picks up real quick when the team gets to Rome (sigh <3) and splits up into different missions: Annabeth must follow the “Mark of Athena” (an owl, generally speaking) and face her greatest enemy to recover an ancient statue of her mother that may restore peace between the Greek and Roman demigods, and the rest of the team must rescue Nico, who has been kidnapped by two of Gaea’s giant sons. The last 20 or so pages of the book are edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, concluding with Annabeth falling into Tartarus and Percy diving in — on purpose — right after her.

Book 4: The House of Hades

Percy and Annabeth must make their way through Tartarus, a feat accomplished by no other demigod before them, to reach the Doors of Death and release them from Gaea’s control/stop all the dead people from coming back. Meanwhile, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank, Leo and Nico depart Rome in order to reach the Doors of Death from the other side, in Epirus, and rescue their two friends. Hecate surprises the group with a visit and explains that the battle at the Doors of Death will depend on Hazel’s new ability to control the Mist (magic). The group stops in Venice, where Frank gets seriously son-of-a-war-god after a battle with some demon cows, and then they encounter Sciron and his giant turtle, at which point Hazel practices the magic that may save them in Epirus. Below ground, Percy and Annabeth befriend a Titan (Bob, formerly known as Iapetus), and above ground elsewhere Jason learns some surprising information about Nico. The most compelling part of this fourth book is definitely Percy and Annabeth’s journey through actual, literal hell — you know they can’t die because they are the main characters, but at the same time you wonder how they can possibly survive. Survive they do, and they even succeed in closing the Doors of Death, but there is no rest for the weary. The gang must now get to Athens ASAP to stop Gaea from rising once and for all and send up a prayer that the magical statue from makes it back to Camp Half-Blood in time to unite the feuding camps.

Book 5: The Blood of Olympus

I was a bit rusty on my Percy goings on when I picked up the last book in the series, but I was quickly thrown right back into the action: Coach Hedge, Reyna (characters I neglected to mention in books 1-4) and Nico have the magical statue and are en route to Camp Half-Blood to stop the Roman demigods from attacking the Greeks; Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel and Frank are aboard the Argo II making their way toward Athens, where the Gaea rising is about to go down. All teams encounter many, many obstacles, of course — kidnapping the crazy victory goddess Nike, getting a cure for death from the god of medicine, escaping the evil hunter/giant Orion — all of which reveal, little by little, what must occur in the final battle against Gaea: the death of a demigod. I had my suspicions as to who the dead demigod would be, but I was wrong. I have to say the final battle was a tad anticlimactic — I would have preferred more involvement from the gods themselves — and I did not like the very ending because I thought it focused on not-that-important characters/plot lines, but I am overall thrilled with the book and both Percy series and will miss them terribly. A re-read may be in my future.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus didn’t actually change my life for the better, but they certainly made it more entertaining for the last year and change. These awesome books reawakened my interest in Greek and Roman mythology — I kept trying to figure out what was happening in the books before the characters could, based on the myths I remembered — which I hadn’t thought about much since I was a little kid. These books will remain some of my all-time favorites, and I strongly recommend them to all humans, young and old.

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