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Rick Riordan

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The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan reviewed at SFSignal.com

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan reviewed at SFSignal.com

My review of Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena is up at the Hugo-award winning SFSignal.com.

An excerpt:

REVIEW SUMMARY: The third book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series joins Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), Jason Grace (son of Jupiter) and other Greek and Roman demigods in a quest to save the world from the destructive awakening of Gaia, goddess of the Earth.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Seven teenage demigods of prophecy race to Rome to save one of their own and to thwart Gaia, one of the most powerful gods in mythology. Gaia sends giants and other mythological creatures against them. And the Roman demigods are threatening the Greek demigods camp. All while the teenage demigods act like…well…teenagers.

PROS: Full of Greek and Roman mythology; fast paced; suitable for kids, young adults and adults. And flying ships! And Riordan is from San Antonio!
CONS: Gotta wait for at least one more and maybe two in the series.
BOTTOM LINE: Rick Riordan gets my vote (and my family’s vote) to fill the void left by the end of the Harry Potter series. The books include well-researched Greek and Roman mythology, very ‘human’ demigods and gods, lots of humor and ‘save-the-world’ action.


Like most families of our generation, we read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as a team. At first my wife and I read the books to our kids, then with them; and, finally, as they got older, toward the end of the series, we all read them in round robin fashion, with our then teenage kids blasting through them first, with my wife and I (and others in our extended family) following close behind. This kind of family reading not only leads to joint experiences and discussions, but always opens the door for my son to ask me “What part are you at, Dad?” and then tease me with “Oh, you’ll love what happens next,” just enough to not spoil the plot (most of the time).

The Harry Potter series ended in 2007 with the seventh and final book, and somehow we discovered Percy Jackson as a more than able replacement. We don’t remember exactly how we found the series; it could have been through the author, Rick Riordan (a fellow San Antonio home-boy!) and his adult mysteries set in San Antonio. But it was more likely through our son’s love of mythology (he once helped a friend ace a test on the subject through what he learned and researched playing the Age of Mythology series of games!).

Riordan’s “young adult” series feature Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies, gods with senses of humor (and issues of their own) and demigods that are children of the gods and mortals. The demigods have issues fitting in with normal kids, discover that they are actually different, and still have questions about fitting in and problems like everyone else; they just have to deal with saving the world while fitting in.

The “Young Adult” genre label has good and bad connotations for potential readers; my interpretation of it for this series is no sex, no cursing, with mainly teenage protagonists. There’s lots of violence (fighting) of monsters and gods of all mythologies. As for our family reading group, my son is the youngest (now age 21) and my stepfather the oldest (and the last to get the books; sorry, John!) at 85 years young. The “YA” label is great for parents, but it unfairly tends to send adult readers in another direction; like comedians (a regular Bob Hope), great authors can still tell a riveting tale with nary an F-bomb to be dropped; see Joe R. Lansdale’s fantastic all the earth thrown to the sky for another example.

The Mark of Athena is the 3rd book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which is the next series after the Percy Jackson and the Olympians tetralogy. The Percy Jackson series focuses on Greek mythology, with Greek teenage demigods that train and school at Camp Half-blood. The series follows Percy (son of Poseidon), Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and others on several quests, some with the help of the Greek gods and some without, where in the end, they appear to save the world. The series is loosely based on the Greek War of the Titans (Titanomachy). But there is a prophecy at the end that portends of…the next series, of course.

“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.”

Giving away more would spoil the series, but if interested, reviews can be found by clicking on The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of MonstersThe Titan’s CurseThe Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian. There is also the movie version of the first book out, with the second due in August of this year (with Nathan Fillion cast as Hermes?!?!).

Read the full review here.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus #1)

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus #1)

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. (more…)

The Lightning Thief – Movie vs. Book

The movie The Lightning Thief, has excellent special effects (Hades in the fire and looking like an old rock musician is well done) and tells the story of Percy Jackson, half human, half Olympian God. Several easily recognized actors play Olympian roles (Uma Thurman is enjoyable as Medusa, Pierce Brosnan with a half-horse body at Chiron, Sean Bean (Boromir from Lord of the Rings and Odysseus in Try) plays Zeus), and, except for the likeness of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) to my son’s friend Ryan and a few occasions of wooden acting, the kid’s parts (Percy, Annabeth, Grover) were well cast.

As with most, we noted several major differences in the movie versus Rick Riordan’s first novel in the Percy Jackson series. Since the movie was already two hours, one would assume they were cut for time. But there were also pieces that were left out that are needed if the next book in the series is turned into a movie. Without some of these vital scenes, those who have not read the books would surely struggle to make sense of subsequent films. Even the most academic audience member, who might usually achieve good results from many online colleges and universities, would struggle if they were tested on an adaptation of the second book, having not read the first. This is because, although the film does not come across as being unclear on its own, the changes and omissions to the plot are often details which are of particular significance. This is certainly true when looking at the details within the context of the Percy Jackson series as a whole. Below I have listed a number of examples which may lead to future difficulties in continuity. Slight spoilers below if you havent read the book:



The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson #5)

The Last Olympian is a well written ending to an excellent series, with the lastolympianpromise of more to come. The prophesized battle between the Olympic Gods and the Titans starts in the first chapter, and proceeds with all haste through all 381 pages. Though marketed as “Young Adult” fare, this series is entertaining and enjoyable to read no matter your age.

The action starts immediately, with Percy and another half-blood (one parent mortal, the other an Olympic God) setting off to blow up the cruise ship commandeered by the Titan Kronos, who has possessed the body of Luke, half-blood son of Hermes. Percy is still trying, as all teenage boys do, to figure out girls, namely Rachael Dare, a mortal who can see things that mortals aren’t supposed to see, and Annabeth, half-blood daughter of Athena. The cruise ship is blown up, but the other half-blood is killed, and Percy is saved by allies of his father Poseidon. Poseidon is fighting the Titan Oceanus (underwater, of course) but tells Percy it is time for him to hear the prophecy. (more…)


The Demigod Files: Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan

While waiting for Riordan’s next Percy Jackson novel The Last Olympian, readers can get their Percy fix with this collection of short stories and percyfiles_fc3interviews. While short (133 pages excluding pictures, puzzles and a Last Olympian preview), the collection (called ‘auxiliary book’ on Mr. Riordan’s blog) features three short stories and five ‘interviews’ with some of Camp Half-Blood’s most famous campers.

The three short stories:

  • Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot – Percy helps Clarisse, when her half brothers, the demigods Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror) take Ares chariot, which he had entrusted to Clarisse.
  • Percy Jackson and the Bronze Dragon – Beckendorf, from the Hephaestus house, and Percy are on the same side in a Camp Half-Blood capture-the-flag game. Beckendorf sees giant ants hauling off a bronze dragon head, made by Hephaestus house long ago to protect the Camp, and charges. Percy gets captured by Annabeth and Silena, who are on the other side of the game, allowing Beckendorf to get dragged into the giant ant hill. Annabeth, Percy and Silena (who has a thing for Beckendorf) decide to put the bronze dragon back together so they can resue Beckendorf. More Percy and Annabeth clumsy courtship in this story.
  • Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades – this is the longest of the three short stories, and it appears that it will be released on its own in the UK. Percy is reunited with Thalia and Nico, and the offspring of Poseidon, Zeus and Hades go on a quest to recover Hades stolen sword. The sword has one of Hades’ keys in the handle, which would allow the bearer to resurrect the dead from the Underworld…even Titans from Tarturus.

For the kids, there are puzzles at the end, and short interviews with the characters, plus pictures of the gods and half-bloods. An intro chapter from The Last Olympian is included, showing the Percy is going to get into trouble not only with Titans but with girls (Rachael and Annabeth).

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) by Rick Riordan

Of the three main young adult series I have read (Twilight and Potter being the other two), Riordan’s is faster paced, funnier and brings out more history/mythology than the other two. Very enjoyable and highly recommended to adults and kids alike. As with the other two series, the Percy Jackson series should be read in order. (Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, Titan’s Curse)

With Thalia (daughter of Zeus) joining Artemis and the Hunters at the end of book #3, The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick RiordanPercy (son of Poseidon) has a new concern with the discovery at the end of book #3 that Nico is the son of Hades. Though he was apparently born before the agreement between the ‘big three’ (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades) to have no more offspring, he and his now dead sister Bianca’s past is vague and unknown to them.

The campers/heroes of Camp Half-Blood know that Kronos’ army (led by Luke, son of Hermes and ex-camper) will attack, probably through the Labyrinth, created thousands of years ago by Daedalus. During a camp game of capture the flag, Percy and Annabeth stumble upon an unknown entrance to the Labyrinth that is inside the Camp’s protective barrier. Since Annabeth, as a daughter of Athena, has studied the architecture and the architect, she is chosen by the Oracle to lead the quest to find Daedalus and enlist his aid against the impending invasion. (more…)

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson #3) by Rick Riordan

In this third book in the series, Thalia, daughter of Zeus, brought back to health by the The Titan�s Curse by Rick RiordanGolden Fleece (her essence was put into a tree after she saved Luke and Annabeth, two other half-bloods, battling monsters getting to Camp Half-Blood), is the latest complication in Percy’s life. A prophecy says that a son or daughter of one of the big three (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades) could bring down Olympus on their 16th birthday. With Thalia back on the scene, either she or Percy (son of Poseidon) could fulfill that destiny.

With the battle with the Titans looming, the search for allies and more heroes expands. Grover (the satyr) finds two half-bloods, Nico and Bianca di Angelo, at a school, being stalked by a monster. Percy, Annabeth and Thalia launch a rescue, and are then themselves rescued by the goddess Artemis and her Hunters. During this final battle, Annabeth is apparently killed by the monster they were fighting, and the goddess Artemis goes hunting one of the monsters (as she is the goddess of the hunt) and is also lost. (more…)

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riordan

In this second of the series, Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon and a mortal mother) continuesThe Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan to learn what it means to be a half-blood, and finds that the Titans, whom the Greek Gods overthrew thousands of years ago, are awakening to take back Olympus.

Percy and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) must rescue their friend Grover (the satyr) from a large cyclops on the Sea of Monsters (which just happens to be in the Bermuda Triangle). Grover was searching for the god Pan, but instead found the Golden Fleece, which makes the land healthy just like Pan would. Camp Half-Blood (where all the half-blood’s go in the summer to be trained and educated in the ways of heroes and gods) selects Clarisse, daughter of Ares, to lead the quest to get the Golden Fleece, in hopes that it will restore to health the magical tree that protects the borders of the Camp; the tree was poisoned by Luke, a half-blood who now supports Kronos of the Titans. The tree was created out of the essence of Thalia, daughter of Zeus, who was killed trying to reach the camp. (more…)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Book one in the Percy Jackson seriesThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Writing for both the adult and young adult (YA) successfully is difficult, though many authors are trying to cross that gap these days. Stephenie Meyer of the Twilight series tried to move to adult fiction with The Host, which was close to a Stargate clone and not very satisfying; Ms. Rowling of Harry Potter fame is trying to do it with The Tales of Beetle the Bard (the book is not yet out, so the the jury is still out).

But the best ‘cross-over artist’ I’ve come across so far is Rick Riordan, whose Percy Jackson YA books are just as entertaining as his adult Tres Navarre series. The fact that he is a Texas author and hails from my home town of San Antonio makes the gloating that much better. (more…)

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