Warning: This article will contain major spoilers for The Lost Hero.
At midnight on Monday, I will get the email alert I’ve been waiting for all year: the PDF of The Son of Neptune will be ready to download to my nook. I expect the squeal of joy I make at the alert will be well into the octaves that only dogs can hear. It’s not just the fact that Percy Jackson is back. The book should answer a burning question I’ve had ever since finishing The Lost Hero: Does Rick Riordan actually expect that he’ll be able to pull this plotline off?
In The Lost Hero, the first book of the sequel series to the wildly popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, we were introduced to Jason, a teenage demigod whose memories had been stolen. He find himself at Camp Half-Blood, the safe haven for the children of the Greek gods. He makes friends, defends the camp, fully integrates himself into the culture before he learns the truth about his birth.
He is not the son of a Greek god.
He is the son of a Roman god.
The plot is quite ingenious. As we all know, the Greek gods are fairly promiscuous with mortals—but mythology also changes over time, giving the same gods different aspects. In the universe that Riordan has created, a god might have children while in different forms. Take the Grace children. Thalia and Jason share the same mother, but slightly different fathers: Thalia is the daughter of Zeus, while Jason is the son of Jupiter. Same god, different name.
And this wouldn’t be a problem…except the Roman and Greek demigods have always made a point of kicking the ever-living crap out of each other at every opportunity.
Because they were always fighting each other, the gods decided to create a chasm between the camps: since the American Civil War, the Roman and Greek demigods were not to know that the other existed. The separation worked for over 150 years, with each group of children going on separate quests and helping save the world. They even worked together to bring down the Titans during the original Percy Jackson series—a fact that Riordan carefully crafted in that first series but did not reveal until The Lost Hero.
But now, a new threat is rising. And prophecy says that it will taken the best demigods in the world to destroy it. The problem is that the best demigods lay across party lines: some are Greek while others are Roman. So Hera/Juno hatches a plan to bring the groups together, sending a Jason to Camp Half-Blood and Percy to the Roman equivalent. Somehow, the two heroes have to bring the camps together, which given their histories, will be no easy task.
But here is where I start to get nervous. Riordan has set himself up on one heck of a slippery slope. He has a whole host of characters that have multiple personalities. All the way through The Lost Hero, Jason continuously caused Greek gods to suddenly morph into their Roman counterparts. What the heck is going to happen when there is a whole bunch of demigods from both camps? Will the gods be constantly be bouncing between personalities, sometimes pursuing Greek morals and sometimes Roman principles? It feels like a world bent on tearing apart at the seams. Just because the gods can exist in more than one aspect does not mean a YA reader is going to be able to keep up with a plot that tries capture the delicate nuances between Greek and Roman cultures.
But, if anyone can do it, it is Riordan. He handled the plot concept well in the first book, so hopefully he can carry it through the whole series. I truly hope he hasn’t backed himself into a narrative corner that is too narrow to get out of. If he can pull this off, expect The Heroes of Olympus to be one of the best YA series to hit the shelves since Harry Potter.
Do you think he can pull it off?