Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh My Gods!

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, Book 3)
The Roman and the Greek camps have always been divided because the Gods and Goddesses themselves have been divided. In the third installment of The Heroes of Olympus called The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan brings the biggest sections of the world's mythology together in a way no other author could.

Now that the two camps know about each other, New Rome and Camp Half-Blood, the group from Half-Blood travel to New Rome in an attempt to collect Percy Jackson, their missing hero. They suspect the Roman demigods will have to team up with the Greek demigods in order to keep evil Gaia from reforming and wreaking havoc on earth, but convincing two sides who have always hated one another to cooperate is harder than beating Medusa, or two disco giants, or crazed sea gods who collect monsters. When New Rome thinks the group of demigods has come to harm them, they attack Leo's ship and send the seven from the prophecy running to escape. 

Once they are out of range of New Rome's weapons, the group realizes they have a bigger mission than Gaia- Hazel's brother Nico has been trapped and is quickly running out of time before he suffocates. They must find two evil giants who work for Gaia in order to get him back, but that is easier said than done. meanwhile Annabeth must follow the Mark of Athena, but any children of Athena who have gone before her were lost forever, unsuccessful in their mission. With so much riding on this journey, including Nico's life, the demigods begin to feel the pressure of their mission. Will they get to Nico in time, or will saving the world require some sacrifice?

OK, it is absolutely no shock to anyone that anything Riordan writes is pure genius. If you made it this far, you are a total Riordan freak like myself and would read his grocery lists scribbled on old tissues if he let you. But there is more to  this series these days. So I won't convince you to read these books (because if you haven't already you are missing out!), but I will tell you about the interesting turns in this book.

First, I loved how the mission became so much more serious. There were always issues with death and near death experiences, but the seriousness of this particular mission tangled with the relationships that have formed amongst the group make the stakes much higher. And Percy Jackson, who was missing from the first part of the series, really evolves in this book. He feels left out when other demigods go to speak to the ancient sea gods and is resentful of his inability to help the group. It was a realistic portrayal of this group's age and dynamic, and I think it really drove the series to a place it has never been until now: maturity. It has been fun (hilarious actually), educational (although is getting my mythology from these books like getting my news from the Daily Show?!), and exciting, but these books have always been a little young. Now they are growing up, and you had better get to them before they are gone! 

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