Back in 2016, I decided to take my time rereading Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. I’d enjoyed them when I first read them and was curious to know if I still would. I first read the books when I was in college. I wanted something light but similar to Harry Potter to read to break up the heavy texts I had to read for class. I was skeptical of the Percy Jackson books thinking they might be a rip off of Harry Potter and was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t.
I enjoyed the books back then and I still enjoy them now. However, I was worried at first because I read Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief by audio book and had such a horrible experience with it in that format that I wondered if the story had soured for me. It hadn’t. It was just that the narrator had done a horrible job. When I switched to the physical book to read the third book, Titan’s Curse, I quickly got swept up in the fun and adventure.
It took me almost three years to complete my reread because I took my time with it. There was no rush. I’d just pick up one of the books whenever I felt for something light and fun. I did so again in June this year after completing The Devourers by Indra Das, Tweak by Nic Sheff, and Becoming by Michelle Obama, all heavier, more serious reads. I needed something simple and light to cleanse my palate and The Last Olympian was just the thing.
The best thing for me to do when stressed is return to a favorite novel, preferably one that’s a quick, fun read that’s sure to make me momentarily forget my troubles. That need led me to reread these two novels a couple days ago. It’s been years since I’d read them, but I still enjoy them.
These two seem an unlikely pair, but they share several similarities. They are both YA novels that target readers on the cusp of adolescence. I usually think of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympian novels as middle-grade reads, but I think The Battle of the Labyrinth is where the books start to lean more heavily toward YA because Percy Jackson is now a 14-year-old but still trying to protect his friends and survive until his supposedly fateful 16th birthday. Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic, the first of her Immortals novels, is YA fantasy and has content that is more mature than what’s presented in The Battle of the Labyrinth, but the protagonist is a 13-year-old girl who has lost her family and is seeking a new home while learning to accept who she is.
I immensely enjoyed reading both books and while reading them, both filled me with nostalgia for when I first encountered them. I first read The Battle of the Labyrinth when I was in college. That’s when I learned of the Percy Jackson series, got hooked, and marathon-read them. I did the same when I discovered Tamora Pierce’s books in middle school. Until I reread Wild Magic, I was convinced that the Song of the Lioness books were my introduction to Tamora Pierce. But now I believe I first encountered Pierce through the Immortals books, with the third book, Emperor Mage, to be exact, before I hopped to the Song of the Lioness series.
But no matter how I discovered them or who their target audience is, I’m glad that I’m able to return to them now and still be entertained by them.
Continuing from the Greek Mythology Book Tag, here is the Heroes of Olympus Book Tag created by Jasmine at Flip That Page. The tag is based on Rick Riordan’s middle-grade fantasy series of the same name of which I’m a fan. It’s an entertaining story that follows the adventures of teenage demi-gods who are trying to save the world.
Heroes of Olympus
Percy Jackson: a brave, spirited, natural leader with a sarcastic sense of humor and a will to save friends and enemies alike.
I found this great book tag on My Tiny Obsessions. It was created by Jasmine at Flip That Page, who called it a bookish survey and included a section based on the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, which I, of course, will do in a separate post since this would be quite long otherwise.
Gods of Olympus
Zeus (Jupiter): God of the Sky and Thunder / King of the Gods
Who knew this classic tale would excite me so? Who knew that an epic poem could grip my attention for the majority of its length? I didn’t expected this story to be as interesting as it was and I’m glad I read it.
Jason and the Argonauts, also called Argonautica, by Apollonius of Rhodes is an epic poem that tells the adventures of Jason and his companions as they sail to fetch the Golden Fleece from King Aeëtes of Colchis.
Jason’s uncle, the Greek King Pelias, contrived the plan when he saw Jason at his banquet. An oracle had told him that someone wearing a single sandal would kill him and Jason had shown up wearing one sandal (he lost the other in some mud when he carried an old woman (Hera in disguise) across a river). To get rid of Jason, Pelias sends him on the impossible mission to get the Golden Fleece.
The long-awaited final installment of the Heroes of Olympus series was released on October 7th, 2014. I wasted no time in getting it. As soon as I was finished with TIME magazine’s issue on great empires, I grabbed The Blood of Olympus to read and boy was it worth it!
So we’re done with the House of Hades and the Doors of Death. The heroes are plagued by nightmares and monsters, as always, and now they have other worries: getting the Athena Parthenos back to Camp Half-Blood before Nico disappears into the shadows; avoiding Orion’s arrows; figuring out how to stop Gaea from waking and if/when she does, how to get rid of her; and defeating the giants gathered at the Parthenon. Our heroes have a lot on their plate, not to mention their constant anxiety over their companions’ safety as well as the preservation of their respective camps. We can’t help but wonder whether the heroes will accomplish all their tasks and save the world and whether they will need therapy after the events of this book.
As always with Riordan’s books, The Blood of Olympus is fast-paced; however, it has a more mellow moments throughout that the other books. The characters reflect on their actions and futures more and they are not as obsessed with their significant others. —Well, expect for Annabeth but we’ll excuse her since she went through hell with Percy.— I was glad to see that certain characters stepped up while others took a back seat. The most improved is Piper, who starts to kick some serious ass. She finds her strength, which is in her emotions and instincts, and she trusts in it to whip a giant’s butt while soothing Annabeth, who has an emotional breakdown. I think Piper is strongest in this installment. In the other books she is too focused on her relationship with Jason, which detracts from her strength and sense of purpose. Though she does care for Jason in this one, it does not consume her purpose.
And so we’re back with Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. This time, we’re racing along with the heroes, trying to get to the House of Hades in Greece to close the doors of death! Many obstacles stand in our way and things can go horribly wrong at any minute. Percy and Annabeth are stuck in Tartarus for the while, trying to navigate the underworld and stay alive as they plod on towards the doors of death. If they are not careful, they can be vanquished at any time by one of the numerous monsters that pop up all over the place since Tartarus is their turf.
Then there are the other demigods aboard Argo II. They all have their issues and insecurities and love interests. They’ve battled mountain giants/gods, weird-looking cow monsters, pesky dwarfs, and frigid opponents. Still, they always find the time to say how much they admire/love/care for each other, seeming to never get pissed off at each other’s fuck-ups while they continue on this stressful journey.
And then there’s Nico, off in a corner, lonely, tortured by unrequited love. Poor kid. Back in the states, the demigod camps are gearing up for battle because that’s what they do. They have nothing better to think about as Gaea threatens to end the world. Apparently, it’s better to eliminate each other now so Gaea can easily cross that task off her list.
I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I once snuck into a classical mythology class while I was in college. I love mythology and folklore and fables and I always wanted to take a class on it but my schedule never allowed for it. So when I saw Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes chilling on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble, I had to buy it and begin reading immediately.
I was already familiar with most of the stories thus reading Mythology was more of a refresher than an introduction. Still, if you are unfamiliar with Greek/Roman mythology and would like to know about it, Hamilton’s book is one you should pick up. Hamilton relates these stories by summarizing various plays and epic poems by great dramatists and poets such as Ovid, Apollodorus, Virgil, Pindar, Aeschylus, and many others.
Hamilton’s retelling is in story form and is engaging. She also includes small excerpts from the original sources to give readers examples of how the god, goddesses, and other notable people were described:
“Golden-throned Hera, among immortals the queen,
Chief among them in beauty, the glorious lady
All the blessed in high Olympus revere,
Honor even Zeus, the lord of the thunder.”