The Blood of Olympus

The finale of the Heroes of Olympus series, and perhaps (who knows) the end of the road for Percy Jackson (though we do know that he will ‘narrate’ the Greek Heroes book coming out on August 18, which I can’t wait for), and it’s been a long road, with 10 books, a number of side-books, and a whole lot of monster fighting. I’ve loved the series, and I think I started reading it in 2011 (I know I read the first Heroes of Olympus book in 2011 as attested by this post, so presumably the first series was sometime that year), which isn’t as long as some people, and I wasn’t as young as some people when they first started, but it still has been a long while (the first was out in 2005!). And I’m very excited for Magnus Chase! Despite all this, The Blood of Olympus wasn’t as good a finale as I hoped.With this entire series, you obviously have to suspend belief. Things are often very convenient and the heroes always save the day. I don’t have a problem with that, and it’s never been an issue until this book. It just feel way too easy. This was the climax, we had built up so much to this showdown with Gaia, and it ended up being so simple, and without any consequence. The entire book basically is a confrontation with fairly major enemies every second chapter (which most of the books are), and I think I got a little tired by the end. Everything worked perfectly, they were able to manipulate, capture and defeat gods and find out information ‘they weren’t supposed to know’, and they were able to do everything without any major incident. Okay Jason was nearly killed, but that became inconsequential, and then it was healed as he saved Percy in the ocean (yep, that’s not what you’d think would happen). Nico nearly evaporated from all the shadow travel, but Coach Hedge was able to use some earth magic to prevent that, and Nico always had just enough to get them to where they needed. In the end it was the Pegasi who brought them, who answered Hedge’s request.

I get that this is ‘middle school’ fiction, and it isn’t going to be so cutthroat like Game of Thrones, I get that. But, Riordan really seemed to play it ‘safe’, and he killed people off in the first series (Bianca di Angelo, Zoë Nightshade, Michael Yew, Ethan Nakamura, to name a few, and these weren’t major characters, but they were significant, and their deaths had meaning), but in this whole series, it was 4 random Hunters/Amazonias who happened to be named. That’s it. Reyna’s sister managed to survive Orion. Blackjack even survives after facing Orion. There is no consequence for facing Gaia and the Giants. Nothing. Even (SPOILER) when Leo dies, he is saved by The Physician’s Cure, which they managed to trick into being made, and he then manages to sail off and save Calypso from her isolation.

It’s just all too easy. I think Riordan probably initially was going to kill someone off, but in the end he couldn’t do it. And I think the book suffers. I think, as someone else wrote, the final two books, lack ‘care’. The first three of the series: amazing. The ending of the Mark of Athena, brilliant, so gripping, and actually serious. I even didn’t mind House of Hades, because we were going through Tartarus, and it was super interesting, and there was suspense there. In this book, there wasn’t suspense. Even when Leo died, it was damn obvious he was going to live. He had the cure, and we knew he had it. Riordan should have lead us on and made us think Hazel had it, instead of revealing to us that Leo had it, and put it into the ship. And the whole “I’ve got a plan” and I’ll tell it to these other characters but the audience won’t know, that started to grate. Obviously it was necessary, but it didn’t have to be brought up so often, or hinted at so much. Clearly it needed to be mentioned that there was a plan, but it didn’t need big flashing signs pointing at it.

I do commend Riordan for having Nico as a gay character, I think it’s good to see some diversity in this sort of field. But, in the end it wasn’t the best portrayal, he magically decided that he was going to stay at Camp Halfblood despite saying he wouldn’t like 10 times. He then decided he was going to interior decorate, and that he had swapped crushing over Percy (though I think that was more a gradual thing) to a different character fairly quickly at the end. Wasn’t great. But I did like him telling Percy about his crush on him.

I did like Nico and Reyna’s journey together, and that was done rather well. I think I liked that more than the actual quest. It at least seemed to have consequences. And Reyna’s “I don’t define myself by the boys who may or may not like me”, brilliant!

The fact that Percy and Annabeth were almost shells of their former selves, could be both good and bad. I mean they’ve had plenty of airtime before, so it was nice to have different perspectives. But it seemed like they were rather ineffective: Percy couldn’t deal in the water at one point, and Annabeth couldn’t plan and became unstuck. Yes they just came through Tartarus, but I dunno, felt a bit too much.

Overall, I liked it. But I certainly didn’t love it, and don’t even really want to read it again. It just didn’t quite do it for me. As I said, I am eagerly awaiting Magnus Chase, and I hope that continues what has been an overall, high quality from Riordan. I just don’t think this was up to standard.

There was a bonus short story at the end of the copy I read of The Staff of Serapis. Which is a lovely merging of Egyptian and Greek mythology with Annabeth and Sadie meeting (just like Percy and Carter did in Son of Sobek). But this was an even better meeting, as the mystery heats up about the strange happenings. This is a return to Annabeth Chase of the original series, a powerful, independent, smart female. And her and Sadie teaming up is great (interesting that they can just chat about everything, but Percy and Carter felt wrong discussing their backgrounds). They team up as they try to stop the Staff of Serapis reforming (they fail), and then Serapis himself. Who turns out to be an Egyptian/Greek god, who was created by Ptolemy in an attempt to unify Egypt and Greece in Alexandria. And now he’s back in the modern time, because of Setne, who Sadie released in her adventures to save Ra and stop Chaos. Setne seems to be trying to become a god himself, and is learning both Greek and Egyptian magic. Serapis is big trouble, and it was very challenging to try and get rid of him, only by using his own staff and destroying ‘the future’ was it possible, and they needed Athena’s help too. So the final in this little trilogy will be very interesting.

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