by Rick Riordan
Book Three in the Heroes of Olympus series, following The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune.
It is set in the same universe as the Percy Jackson series and The Kane Chronicles.
This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
Annabeth, Jason, Piper and Leo have traveled across the country to Camp Jupiter, hoping to unite the two demigod camps in preparation for battle with Gaea and the giants. When they arrive, things (naturally) don’t fall out according to plan, and after scooping up Percy Jackson and his new friends Hazel and Frank, the seven half-bloods set out to fulfill a prophecy made in ancient times, recently revealed by the harpy Ella. With a pack of angry Roman campers tailing them, the group must leave America and fly back to the old world to defeat an ancient evil and recover the Mark of Athena.
Each chapter is narrated by a different person, and while this device worked fairly well in earlier books, jumping around between the various teenagers’ POV can get confusing when you have to keep track of seven of them! It’s a bit clumsy and unwieldy. (Now that I think about it, I don’t think Riordan even used all seven perspectives. If he does that in the next book, it really will be a whirlwind.)
As in previous books in this series, the story’s strongest when it looks back to classic mythology. Riordan further explores the clash of cultures when Romans adopted the Greek gods, and how it changed them. Athena, for example, was a warrior goddess to the Greeks, but since the Romans already had their own war goddess this aspect of her powers was greatly reduced when she became Minerva. Minerva was also a virgin goddess, which means a daughter of Athena like Annabeth is subject to some strange looks when she visits Camp Jupiter. Moments like these are hilarious, and really make the book fun and believable.
But then we fall back to the same old problem: too many characters. It’s hard to simultaneously develop seven personalities and keep them equally interesting. I’m sure every character has his or her fans, but personally I could do with a lot less Frank and Hazel and Leo. Their personalities are a bit one-note.
Oh well. Riordan keeps the story moving forward with lots of action and some memorable interpretations of Hercules, Archimedes and Arachne. The story ends on a killer cliffhanger, which means I’ve got to pick up the next volume soon and continue the adventure.
4 out of 5 stars
To read more about The Mark of Athena, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Forged by Jonathan Keats
2012: When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs
2011: Random behind-the-scenes blogginess
2010: News: Amazon Pulls All Macmillan Titles
2009: Atticus of Rome and Pandora of Athens by Barry Denenberg