Posts Tagged ‘Rick Riordan

12
Jun
12

Universal Rule of the Universe #77

Blake’s Universal Rule of the Universe #77

If you sit in the middle of the aisles in a bookstore, reading books you have no intention of buying, when the bookstore itself has kindly provided numerous desks, tables, and armchairs, then you forfeit your right to complain if a paying customer “accidentally” kicks you in the face when I’m leaning over you to reach the latest Rick Riordan novel.

Read the rest of the Universal Rules of the Universe right here!

04
Feb
11

What I’m Reading in 2011

And now, like I did with the movies yesterday, it’s time to begin my running tally of the books I’ve read/am reading in 2011. I’m always a little ashamed that this list is invariably shorter than the movie list, even though it takes considerably longer to read most books (exception: Billy’s Looking at Me: A Family Circus Collection) than watch most movies (exception: Avatar). But I try to take comfort in the fact that I read more books in January than most of my students will read all year. As always, if it’s a book I’ve reviewed, I’ll make it a link.

  1. Assholes Finish First (2010) by Tucker Max, B
  2. Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions (2009) by Leland Gregory, B-
  3. Feed (2010) by Mira Grant, A
  4. Twisted Toyfare Theater Vol.11 (2011), B*
  5. Tangled: The Graphic Novel (2010), C-*
  6. The Inner Circle (2011) by Brad Meltzer, A
  7. The Customer is Always Wrong (2008) edited by Jeff Martin, B-
  8. The Complete Peanuts: 1975-1976 (2010) by Charles M. Schulz, A*
  9. The Onion Presents The Finest Reporting on Literature, Media, and Other Dying Art Forms (2010), B
  10. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History (1986) by Art Spiegelman, A*
  11. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began (1991) by Art Spiegelman, A*
  12. The Crucible (1953) by Arthur Miller,A+•
  13. Cake Wrecks (2009) by Jen Yates, B+
  14. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America (2008) by David Hajdu, A
  15. The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them) (2007) by Peter Sagal, B+
  16. Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2 (2010), A*
  17. The War For Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy (2010) by Bill Parker, A-
  18. The Night of January 16th (1933) by Ayn Rand, B•
  19. American On Purpose (2009) by Craig Ferguson, B+
  20. Superman: Our Worlds At War-The Complete Collection (2006), B+*
  21. Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life (2002) by Mark Evanier, B
  22. Your Flying Car Awaits (2009) by Paul Milo, B-
  23. John Dies at the End (2009) by David Wong, B
  24. “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” (2007) by Cory Doctorow, B-
  25. “The Black Cat” (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe, A
  26. Room (2010) by Emma Donoghue, A
  27. Limitless (2001) by Alan Glynn, B
  28. Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason (2011) by Mike Sacks, C+
  29.  “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” (2010) by Harlan Ellison, B-
  30. Crescent (2009) by Phil Rossi, B
  31. The Secret World Chronicle Book 1: Invasion (2006) by Mercedes Lackey & Steve Libby, B^
  32. Son of Superman (2000) by Howard Chaykin & David Tischman, B*
  33. Blood is Red (2011) by Scott Sigler, B+
  34. The Throne of Fire (2011) by Rick Riordan, B
  35. Fiends Vol. One (2011) by Paul Eldard Cooley, B+
  36. Subculture Vol. 1: The Wrath of Geek (2011) by Kevin Freeman & Stan Yan, B*
  37. The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins, A
  38. Peanuts: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011) by Craig Schulz & Stephan Patsis, B*
  39. Catching Fire (2009) by Suzanne Collins, B
  40. Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins, B+
  41. Secret Warriors Vol. 1: Nick Fury-Agent of Nothing (2009) by Jonathan Hickman, A*
  42. Deadline (2011) by Mira Grant, B+
  43. Zombies!: An Illustrated History of the Undead (2011) by Jovanka Vuckovic, B-
  44. Cujo (1981) by Stephen King, B
  45. Locke and Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft (2008) by Joe Hill, A-*
  46. Penny Arcade Vol. 7: Be Good, Little Puppy (2011) by Jerry Holkins & Mike Krahulik, B*
  47. New Teen Titans: Games (2011) by Marv Wolfman & George Perez, A*
  48. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God From Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human (2011) by Grant Morrison, A-
  49. Clients From Hell (2011) by Anonymous, B
  50. Lisey’s Story (2006) by Stephen King, C
  51. Locke and Key Vol. 2: Head Games (2010) by Joe Hill, A*
  52. Locke and Key Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows (2010) by Joe Hill, A*
  53. On Writing (2000) by Stephen King, A
  54. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psyco (1990), Stephen Rebello, B+
  55. “Mile 81″ (2011), Stephen King, B
  56. The Stand (1990 unabridged edition), Stephen King, A+
  57. The All-Pro (2011), Scott Sigler, A
  58. Heaven (2011), Mur Lafferty, B+
  59. Hell (2011), Mur Lafferty, B
  60. Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (1993), by Alan Ball, B•
  61. The Scribbler’s Guide to the Land of Myth (2008), Sarah Beach, A
  62. The Gunslinger (2003 revised edition), Stephen King, B+
  63. The Starter (2010) by Scott Sigler, A^
  64. Who Goes There? (1938) by John W. Campbell, B+
  65. The Drawing of the Three (1986), by Stephen King, B
  66. “The Monster in My Closet” (2011), by Wil Wheaton, B+
  67. Bill Shakespeare’s Next Big Mistake (2011) by Renee Harrell, B-•
  68.  “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839), by Edgar Allan Pe, B
  69. The Waste Lands (1991), by Stephen King, A
  70. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), by Alvin Schwartz, B-
  71. More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), by Alvin Schwartz, B-
  72. Wreck the Halls (2011) by Jen Yates, B+
  73. 11/22/63 (2011), by Stephen King, A
  74. The Son of Neptune (2011), by Rick Riordan, B
  75. Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross (2003), by Chip Kidd, A
  76. Batman: Noel (2011) by Lee Bermejo, B+*
  77. Storm Front (2000) by Jim Butcher, B
  78. The Adventures of Chrissie Claus Vol. 1 (2009), B*
  79. A Christmas Story (2003) by Jean Shepherd, A
  80. The Book of  (Holiday) Awesome (2011) , by Neil Pasricha, C+
  81. The Great Gatsby (1924), F. Scott Fitzgerald, A
  82. A Married Man’s Guide to Christmas (2011), by Robert Henry, B+
  83. Batman: The Black Mirror (2011) by Scott Snyder, A*
  84. Zombies Christmas Carol (2011) by Jim McCann, B+*
  85. Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics (2009), B
  86. Archie’s Classic Christmas Stories Vol. 1 (2002), B
  87. “Nicholas Was…” (1989), by Neil Gaiman, A
  88. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (2011) by Laura Geringer & William Joyce, B-

*-Denotes graphic novel or comic strip collection
•-Denotes stage play or screenplay
^-Denotes audiobook

Last updated on December 30, 2011.

20
May
10

What I’m Reading: The Red Pyramid

About this time last year, I discovered the work of writer Rick Riordan, whose fantasy series Percy Jackson and the Olympians was just reaching its conclusion. Having read and become a huge fan of that series since then, I was glad to be there earlier this month when Riordan’s new series, The Kane Chronicles, began. The Percy Jackson books, if you’ve never read them, are about modern-day sons and daughters of the ancient Greek gods. The new series turns Riordan’s attention to another mythology — that of ancient Egypt.

In The Red Pyramid, first book of The Kane Chronicles, we are introduced to a new pair of protagonists, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane. Since the death of their mother several years ago, Carter and Sadie have grown up apart. Carter travels the world with their archeologist father, while their maternal grandparents have gotten custody of Sadie and are raising her in London. The family has only been reunited twice a year for several years, and with Christmas coming, Carter and his father are coming to see her. The visit is ruined, though, when a catastrophe unleashes an ancient evil and the Kane siblings find themselves on the run.

Comparisons to the Percy Jackson books are almost impossible to avoid, given the similarity of the concepts — young heroes forced to go into battle against (and sometimes alongside) gods that most people in the modern-day world now believe were only myths, and it will be up to the children to save the world when the time comes.The mechanics of the story tread the line between reusing elements of Percy’s world and original material. Fortunately there’s a line in the book — just one — that implies that the Kanes and Percy live in the same fictional universe. Casting these stories in the same world helps considerably, allowing Riordan to use some of the same rules without feeling like he’s just repeating himself.

Carter himself is cut out of the same mold as Percy, the young, reluctant hero. Fortunately, Carter has something that Percy didn’t — a sarcastic but incredibly strong sister in Sadie. Nothing against Carter, but it’s Sadie who really sets this series apart.The narrative actually bounces back, with each of the sibs taking turns narrating a chapter or two at a time in an audio recording ostensibly “found” and transcribed by Rick Riordan. The real great thing about the way it’s written is that Riordan manages to channel two distinct voices without being confusing or jarring in the transition.

The first book in the Kane Chronicles is pretty good. Oddly, I think if I’d never ready the Percy books, I would enjoy it more. I did enjoy it quite a bit, though, more than enough to be ready for the next book in the series. If you enjoyed Percy (or haven’t read it and enjoy some all-ages fantasy) give this book a try.

18
Jan
10

What I’m Reading: 2010 Edition

Like I did last year, I’m going to keep a running tally of my reading list this year. This includes both prose books, graphic novels, short stories (if I read them independently of an entire book, that is), and audiobooks that I listen to. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’ll place a link to this post on the righthand “Blakestuff” column, and periodically update this page with new material. Also, if I happen to review the book either here, for the Amazon Vine program, at Comixtreme.com, or otherwise, I’ll make the title a link. Because I know you would want it that way.

  1. Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos (2009), B-*
  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King (2009), A-
  3. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 1 by Eric Shanower (2010), A-*
  4. Replay by Ken Grimwood (1987), B+
  5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954), A+
  6. The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens (2009), A*
  7. 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins (2009), A- @
  8. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (1987), A
  9. Star Comics All-Star Collection Vol. 1 (2009), B-*
  10. “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft (1928), B
  11. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002), A-
  12. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2009), B+
  13. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008), B+
  14. The Magic Book of Oz by Scott Dickerson (2009), B+
  15. More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea by Tom Reynolds (2009), A-
  16. PVP Vol. 6: Silent But Deadly by Scott Kurtz (2009), B-*
  17. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865), A-
  18. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951), A
  19. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900), A
  20. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2001), B
  21. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (2003), B
  22. “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving (1824), A
  23. Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies by Michael Adams (2010), A
  24. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (2008), A
  25. Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage by Grant Morrison (1990), B*
  26. Doom Patrol: The Painting that Ate Paris by Grant Morrison (1990), B+*
  27. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason (2008), A-
  28. “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1836), B+
  29. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (1894), B-
  30. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2004), B-*
  31. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce (1890), A
  32. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595-ish), B
  33. “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain (1865), A
  34. Lost Ate My Life by Jon Lachonis & Amy J. Johnston (2008), B-
  35. All the Great Books (Abridged) by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2005-Stage Play), A-
  36. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max (2006), B
  37. Reduced Shakespeare by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2006), B+
  38. The Zombie Wilson Diaries by Timothy W. Long (2009), B
  39. Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz by Marcus Mebes (2008), B-
  40. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper (2004), B
  41. “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922), B
  42. Blockade Billy by Stephen King (2010), B+
  43. Honor Brigade by Tom Stillwell & Bradley Bowers (2009), A-
  44. Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships by Eric Shanower (2001), A*
  45. Marvel Zombies 4 by Fred Van Lente (2010), B*
  46. The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales edited by Tim Seeley (2007), B-*
  47. Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality edited by Mark D. White (2010), B
  48. Sheldon: Living Dangerously With Saturated Fats by Dave Kellett (2009), A-
  49. “The Far and the Near” by Thomas Wolfe (1935), B-
  50. “In Another Country” by Ernest Hemingway (1927), B-
  51. “The Corn Planting” by Sherwood Anderson (1921), B
  52. “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner (1930), A
  53. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895-Stage Play), B
  54. Heaven Book V: War by Mur Lafferty (2008), B@
  55. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Conner (1955), B+
  56. Kissyman and the Gentleman by Scott Sigler (2010), B-@
  57. Carrie by Stephen King (1974), B
  58. Unbeatable: Hotter Than Hell (2010) by Matthias Wolf, A-
  59. DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Vol. 2: Batman and Robin (2010), edited by Bob Joy, B-*
  60. I’ll Mature When I’m Dead (2010) by Dave Barry, B
  61. Wertham Was Right (2003) by Mark Evanier, A-
  62. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 2 (2010) by Eric Shanower, B+*
  63. Age of Bronze Vol. 2: Sacrifice (2004) by Eric Shanower, B*
  64. Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne (2004) by John Byrne, A*
  65. The Crypt Book One: The Crew (2010) by Scott Sigler & Various, B+@
  66. Vampire Brat (2001) by Batton Lash, B+*
  67. Haunt Vol. 1 (2010) by Robert Kirkman & Todd McFarlane, B+*
  68. Ancestor (2010) by Scott Sigler, A
  69. The Customer is Not Always Right (2009) by A.J. Adams, B
  70. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2007) by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, A*
  71. Starman Omnibus Vol. 4 (2010), by James Robinson, A*
  72. Hater (2006) by David Moody, B+
  73. “Everything and Nothing” (2010) by David Moody, B
  74. Penny Arcade Vol. 6 (2010) by Jerry Holkins & Mike Krahulik, B+
  75. And Another Thing… (2009) by Eoin Colfer, B-
  76. Dog Blood (2010) by David Moody, B
  77. The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) by L. Frank Baum , B+*
  78. Sheldon: Still Got It (2009) by Dave Kellett, A*
  79. Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against Television Since 1953 (2010) by Dave Kellett, A*
  80. Drive: A Hero Rises (2010) by Dave Kellett, B*
  81. Beneath (2010) by Jeremy Robinson, B-
  82. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories (2010) by Zack Whedon, A*
  83. Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson & Sam Stall B+
  84. The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (2010) by Fred Hembeck, B+*
  85. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe, A
  86. Curse of the Were-Woman (2009) by Jason M. Burns, B*
  87. A Teacher’s Night Before Halloween (2008) by Steven Layne, B
  88. Ghostopolis (2010) by Doug TenNapel, A*
  89. Superman: Earth One (2010) by J. Michael Straczynski, A*
  90. Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives (2009) by David Eagleman, A
  91. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010 Graphic Novel), B*
  92. The Lost Hero (2010) by Rick Riordan, B
  93. Stupid Christmas (2010) by Leland Gregory, B-
  94. Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (2001) by Ace Collins, B+
  95. Full Dark, No Stars (2010) by Stephen King, A-
  96. The Case For Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger (1998) by Lee Strobel, B
  97. Amelia Rules: A Very Ninja Christmas (2009) by Jimmy Gownley, A*
  98. The Curious World of Christmas (2007) by Niall Edworthy, C+
  99. The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories (2010), edited by Craig Yoe, B*
  100. Top Cow Holiday Special 2010 by Phil Smith & Paul Dini, B*
  101. Graphic Classics Vol. 19: Christmas Classics (2010), B+*
  102. The Truth About Santa (2009) by Gregory Mone, B
  103. The Starter by Scott Sigler (2010), B+

*-Denotes Graphic Novel or Comic Strip collection
@-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes Short Story

Last Updated on January 1, 2010

28
Jun
09

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 125: Convention Season Kick-Off

Chase is out of town, so Blake and Mike sit down this week to talk about the beginning of the comic book convention season! The guys discuss the current state of comic cons, Mike talks about his experiences at last weekend’s Wizard World Philadelphia convention, and the boys bat around some of the announcements from Philly and HeroesCon in Charlotte! In the picks this week, Mike chooses Power Girl #2 and Blake selects Zorro #14, with a bonus book pick, Was Superman a Spy? Contact us with comments, suggestions, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@Comixtreme.com!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 125: Convention Season Kick-Off
Inside This Episode:

Plus: Let’s get literary! Chase has work conflicts this week, so Blake gets together with his sister Heather for this special edition of Week in Geek! The sibs discuss the recently concluded Percy Jackson series of novels by Rick Riordan, chat about the currently in-production Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief movie, and dive into the mythology surrounding the new J.C. Hutchins novel, Personal Effects: Dark Art.

Week in Geek #24: Percy Jackson and Personal Effects

Plus: Blake flies solo for this review of the new Todd Phillips comedy The Hangover. When three guys at a bachelor party wake up to find the bachelor missing, hijinks ensue. But is it funny enough to spend your money on?

At the Movies Episode 7: The Hangover

25
Jun
09

What I’m Reading: The Last Olympian

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book Five: The Last OlympianLast week, I reviewed books two through four of Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, all of which I enjoyed immensely. Later that same day, I got the fifth and final book in the series, The Last Olympian. I finished it the next morning. It’s been a long time since I read any novel that fast, a long time since I was up until the small hours because I couldn’t put the book down… a long time since any book deserved that kind of devotion from me. But this book, and this series, deserved every minute I devoted to it and more.

Things have gotten really bad at Camp Half-Blood. The evil Titan Kronos has managed to inhabit a corporeal body again, and is recruiting an army of Titans, Demigods, monsters, and even minor gods who have felt spurned by Olympus. Percy’s friend Nico has come up with a plan that may give him an edge against Kronos, but it’s a risky one — one that has led to the downfall of everyone who has ever tried it in the past. But will it be worth the trying if it’s the only way to save the world?

Jackson really nails this last adventure. First of all, he breaks his own formula for this book. The previous books in this series have all followed the same pattern: incident, journey to Camp Half-Blood, Quest. This book starts the same, but the quest is rather a short one. About a quarter of the way into the book we begin a battle sequence that lasts until the climax. It’s a long battle, to be sure, one that takes several days, but the bulk of this book is concerned with a single battle. What’s more, it’s one of the most fantastic battles I’ve ever read in contemporary fantasy. The setting works, the monsters, the warriors, the bloodshed — all of it feels authentic, organic, and real.

The way the series ends, also, is spot-on perfect. Every character is true to himself (or herself) and things come together in a way that’s not entirely expected, but doesn’t surprise because it makes sense. However, the book is a bit open-ended. If this is the last word ever written about the world of Percy Jackson, it’s a good capper. All of the major characters are accounted for and the major plot threads tied up. But, unlike the look into the future that ended the Harry Potter series, we don’t really get a glimpse of the characters’ futures. Each of the main characters who survives is given a role, a purpose, that could easily be extrapolated to a life story, but there’s still room there. In fact, at the very end Riordan gives us a hint of another great adventure that may or may not be told, and the afterward even refers to this as the end of the “first Camp Half-Blood series,” implying that there will be more.

I certainly hope there will. There’s room for more grand adventures, either with Percy or some other Half-Blood entirely, in this wonderful fantasy universe. I’m kind of glad I didn’t start reading this books until the last volume was already released. I got through the whole series in less than a month and had a wonderfully satisfying reading experience without the frustration of waiting a year in-between installments. But if Riordan gives us more, I’ll be in on the ground floor for the next series.

19
Jun
09

What I’m Reading: Percy Jackson Books 2-4

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the first novel in Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I liked that book, The Lightning Thief, and was looking forward to moving on with the series. I didn’t expect to get into two, and three, and even the fourth volume so quickly and so completely. I haven’t gone through books in a series this fast since I first discovered Harry Potter, and back then there were only three books in that series available. Percy has claimed my devotion totally.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 2: The Sea of MonstersIn book two, The Sea of Monsters, almost a year has passed since Percy’s first adventure, and it’s time to return to Camp Half-Blood, training ground for the contemporary sons and daughters of the Greek gods. Percy’s days at school aren’t uneventful, though — on his last day a monster attacks him and a new friend, and only a speedy intervention gets him back to Camp Half-Blood.

In the relative safety of the Camp, Percy finds his best friend Grover is missing, lost in the Sea of Monsters on a journey to seek the long-lost god of the wild, Pan. A quest to journey to the Sea of Monsters is announced, but this time it isn’t Percy who is chosen to play the hero.

This book builds nicely on the first, adding several new layers and characters to Rick Riordan‘s world. The idea that the ancient places of power — Olympus, the Sea of Monsters, the gates of Hades and so forth — move along with the center of power in Western Civilization is a really clever one, and an interesting way to use Percy’s journey to explore much of America.

The book does follow the formula of first novel, and the subsequent ones: an early encounter sends Percy to camp, danger is aroused, and Percy and his friends wind up on a quest. The larger arc is progressed slightly here — Percy’s foe Luke is gaining a lot of ground in his attempt to resurrect the Titan Lord Kronos. What’s interesting here is how certain rivalries play out. A character’s parentage doesn’t automatically label them on one side or another. Riordan‘s characterizations of several of the gods makes for an entertaining read too. This was an exciting, worthy sequel to the first book.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book Three: The Titan's CurseIn book three, The Titan’s Curse, Percy falls in with the Hunters of Artemis — a group of girls who have sworn off male companionship and pledged their lives to serving the goddess, in exchange for eternal youth. Artemis has been kidnapped, and the leader of the Hunters must assemble a team for a quest to save her. Not only is Percy stunned not to be chosen, but he’s even more horrified to learn that his friend Annabeth, also missing, has been considering joining the hunt — a choice that would cause her to leave him forever.

This is probably the most emotional of the books thus far. The story arc of Bianca and Nico — two siblings introduced here — is a pretty deep one, and even though their secrets aren’t too difficult to suss out, the way they behave is pretty compelling, and pretty realistic. The stuff with Percy and Annabeth is great too. The attraction between them is pretty clear, but Annabeth’s loyalty to Luke seems to be a permanent wedge between them. That in and of itself is yet another mystery — what could Luke have done to inspire such devotion, even after he’s turned traitor?

The climactic battle is really heart-rending, and the confrontation with the eponymous Titan doesn’t at all go how one would have expected. The new characters in this volume work well to progress the story and raise new questions. I was pretty glad I bought books three and four at the same time, because I finished this one on the drive home from Florida last weekend. That made it easy, just seconds after I finished reading it, to grab the fourth book in the series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book Four: The Battle of the LabyrinthIn The Battle of the Labyrinth, Camp Half-Blood learns that Luke is attempting to get an ancient artifact that will help them find their way through the Labyrinth. The enormous maze of legend has grown over the years, and now acts as a mystical underground beneath the entire United States. It’s a deadly, dangerous place, but if anyone could navigate it safely, it would be a quick route from any one place to another — and allow the full invasion of Camp Half-Blood. Grover, meanwhile, is being given one final chance to seek out the lost Pan, and his quest will intersect with Percy’s own.

More questions, more new characters abound in this book. Perhaps more interestingly, Riordan packs this book with even more heroes, monsters, and incidents from Greek myth than any of the previous volumes. Someone versed in Greek mythology will have a lot of fun reading these books, trying to figure out which card the writer will play next and how, ultimately, it will all fit together. As this is the penultimate book in the series, it ends with events at a fever-pitch. Things are very bad, getting worse. Percy is growing desperate. But on the last page, Riordan gives us a glimmer of hope.

It’s hard to explain just why I love these books so much. The story is formulaic, and Percy himself falls squarely into the “chosen one” cliche. But sometimes, the execution of a story can be so good that you forget about the cliches and the tropes and just enjoy it for what it is. I think that’s the case here. Riordan tells his story masterfully, with characters and events that grabbed me right away and made me want to read more. I haven’t even got the last book, The Last Olympian, but the next time I’m anywhere near a bookstore, it’ll be mine. And you can probably expect a review within the next week.

If you’re suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal, forget Twilight. This series has high adventure, real magic, rich characters, and a love story that doesn’t feel cliched and tacked-on. Check out Percy.




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