How do you continue a series that has ended, without making it droll, repetitive, unimaginative? (See the twelfth SF Signal podcast for a discussion on series that have gone on too long).
You simply follow history, as with Rick Riordan’s new series The Heroes of Olympus, the follow-up to his excellent Percy Jackson series). The Percy Jackson series has the Greek Gods of Olympus being challenged by the Titans they dethroned long ago. This new series combines Roman mythology with another set of ancients (no spoilers) set on revenge against the gods, following the stories of mythology again. This book, like the first series, not only provides a great family read (we will all pass this book around) but really invests the reader into the tales of mythology in a greatly entertaining way.
The first book, The Lost Hero, starts where the Percy Jackson series ended, with Rachael Dare making her first prophecy:
Seven half-bloods shall answer the call.
To storm or fire, the world must fall
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.
The Lost Hero opens with Jason, Leo and Piper, three misfits at a camp for wayward kids who are obviously (if you read the first series) demi-gods. But Jason has no memory of anything before that moment. They are attacked by storm spirits on a trip to the Grand Canyon, their satyr protector is captured and they are rescued by Annabeth in a flying chariot. They are taken back to Camp Half-Blood, home of the Greek demi-gods (half mortal, half Greek God) where they are quickly claimed (Piper by the mighty Aphrodite, Leo by Hephaestus and Jason by Juno/Zeus). Jason has no memory, speaks Latin and has the mark of the Roman legions tattooed on his arm (sure signs he is an outside, don’t you think?). Then Rachael spews forth another prophecy which sends them off on a quest:
Child of lightning, beware of the earth,
The giants revenge the seven shall birth,
The forge and the dove shall break the cage,
And death unleash through Hera’s rage.
All three have been receiving visions from Hera, and Piper has been sent dreams that her father, a famous movie star, is being held prisoner and will be killed unless she turns against her friends (a secret she is reluctant to share). Leo is the first Hephaestus child who is not only a builder but can harness the flames of the forge (fire) since some dude burned down London hundreds of years ago. And Jason can’t remember a thing (but can bring down lightning every so often).
Through these visions and prophecies, they determine that Hera is being held captive, and set off on their quest, seeking to eradicate their own personal demons along the way. As they make their way, they find that the rules have changed: the dead are no longer staying dead, monsters are coming back from Tartus and enemies of Olympus from long ago are planning to awaken the strongest of the original gods.
With new characters, new myths (the Wind Gods and Midas are well done and modernized, with a good scene of the Wind God trying to do the weather but having to change based on conflicting requests from other gods “and this is why mortal weathermen can’t get it right”), but still running with a true parallel to the Greek and Roman mythologies, The Heroes of Olympus series also returns some old favorite characters and promises to unite them in large battles to come. The pace is fast, and, though many of the plot lines are predictable, with The Lost Hero, this is one series that I’m glad did not stay “finished”.
Now if only they could get the movies right!