(Book four of the Lost Heroes Series)
This review will contain spoilers from Son of Neptune.
Remember how much I raged at the cliffhanger for The Son of Neptune? Well, that ending now looks like rainbows and cuddly butterflies compared to what Riordan left us with in The Mark of Athena. I’m officially back to being pissed at him for being so good at leaving readers hanging.
Athena picks up right where Neptune left off, with the giant flying Greek battle ship hovering over the Roman demigod camp. The Romans are none too pleased with situation, but they allow the Greeks to come down to the city unarmed. Not that demigods need to be armed to do damage.
Less than two chapters in, and we have Annabeth MMA-launching Percy to the ground in order to threaten his life should he ever leave her side again. It was a lovely reunion between the two star-crossed lovers, and an even better treat to finally be inside Annabeth’s head and seeing the plot through her eyes at least some of the time.
The cast of characters in this book is larger than Riordan’s normal fare. Like the previous books in this series, the narrative is third person and split between multiple characters. This book is devoted to the Greek campers – Annabeth, Percy, Leo and Piper. But there are also the Roman Jason, Hazel and Frank who decide to side with their friends after a disaster in the Roman city forces them all to flee. As readers of the series waiting for the Prophecy of Seven to come to pass, this increased cast was no surprise, and since I love all the characters, I can’t lodge too big of a complaint. But it did make the 574-page story drag a bit.
Riordan is doing a lot of shuffling to set up for the fourth book, and in doing so, we get taken away from the heart of action to set up another action-packed sequence – only to be pulled away to visit another one. The book covers a lot of geographical territory, from California to Kansas to the East Coast to Rome, and there are adventures to be had at each port of call. There are enough demigods that at times, three totally separate plots can be going on at one time, each one totally bizarre and engaging, but each one requiring a lot of narrative to get the reader through.
That said, compared to other YA fare out there which does not seem to understand the art of pacing, each new demigod jaunt is a thrilling individual adventure at the end. And by the final fifty pages or so, when all the pieces came together, it is a hell of a read. It has the sort of ending that saw me fling the book away in disgust because I knew I would have to wait a year to see how it resolves. And getting that mad at a book is a sign of true love.
Next fall can’t come quickly enough.
Is this on your reading list?