I was introduced by one of my favorite college professors to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He said the series was like Harry Potter, but with Greek Mythology involved. I bought the first book in the series the weekend after and found myself falling in love with the series, Greek Mythology, and Percy Jackson in the Christmas break of 2009.
Riordan’s first sentence on the first book was, “Look, I didn’t what to be a half-blood.” You can see the witty, temperamental, sarcastic, personal, but very much lovable Percy Jackson. Oh gods, I should warn you though, this blog would read like a declaration of my love for Percy, but I promise I will try to be decent and not overly freaky and obsessive about him. Note the operative word try, okay.
The series was instrumental in my ENG107, Mythology class in college. Greek Mythology has always been interesting. I did not have a Mythology class in high school. I was enrolled in a public science high school and my school thought that more Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Trigonometry, and Geometry are much more important than spend an academic year to learn about these myths and deities. Such as shame.
One thing that helped me remember all the names and domains was how they were easily presented by Riordan and how sometimes, each god and goddess takes his/her domain and personality quite literally, but very endearing indeed.
The god sitting next to him was his brother, without a doubt, but he was dressed very differently. He reminded me of a beachcomber from Key West. He wore leather sandals, khaki Bermuda shorts, and a Tommy Bahama shirt with coconuts and parrots all over it. His skin was deeply tanned, his hands scarred like an old-time fisherman’s. His hair was black like mine. His face had that same brooding look that had always gotten me branded as a rebel. But his eyes, sea-green like mine, were surrounded by sun-crinkles that told me he smiled a lot, too. (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief)
Even Hades, the always feared god for being the Lord of Death and seemingly evil god of all gods, has found a special place in my heart. Aw. No, really. I have always had an inclination to like the otherwise hated or least liked god, but Hades in the series is all lovable. In fact, when we had a requirement in my undergraduate Mythology class to write a short story about Greek Mythology, I chose Hades to be the central character in my short story. Here’s the link to the short story about Hades being an Obsessive Compulsive god.
“You will find her at home. Hades sent her when you recovered his helm. Even the Lord of Death pays his debts.” (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief)
It is also fascinating how Riordan has made the old Greek myths into contemporary, making them fit to the things we have today, like the Underworld entrance in Los Angeles [insert the rolling eyes, “It was obvious!” comment.] and all the other stuff. I was always excited which characters, places, weapons, and myths will Riordan transform in his next book. I seriously have high respect for the man’s ingenious wit and imagination.
Atlas laughed. “How little you understand, young one. This is the point where the sky and the earth first met, where Ouranos and Gaia first brought first their mighty children, the Titans. They sky still yearns to embrace the earth. Someone must hold it at bay, or else it would crush down upon this place, instantly flattening the mountain and everything within a hundred leagues. Once you have taken the burden, there is no escape.” Atlas smiled. “Unless someone else takes it from you.” (Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse)
The man has wit and humor. I tell you.
“But how does it work?” Nico asked. “I thought the sun was a big fiery ball of gas.”
Apollo chuckled and ruffled Nico’s hair. “That rumor probably got started because Artemis used to call me a big fiery ball of gas. Seriously, kid, it depends on whether you’re talking astronomy or philosophy. You want to talk astronomy? Bah, what fun is that? You want to talk about how humans think about the sun? Ah, now that’s more interesting. They’ve got a lot riding on the sun . . . er, so to speak. It keeps them warm, grows their crops, power engines, makes everything looks, well, sunnier. This chariot is built out of human dreams about the sun, kid. It’s as old as Western Civilization. Every day, it drives across the sky from east to west, lighting up those puny little mortal lives. The chariot is a manifestation of the sun’s power, the way mortals perceive it. Makes sense?” (Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse)
Another favorite modernized Greek Mythology place that I liked was the River Styx. It was short, and I felt the sadness that was the River. They were simple images, but the mirror humanity’s broken dreams. [Insert obligatory sad face.]
The River Styx current swirled with strange objects–broken toys, ripped up college diplomas, wilted homecoming corsages–all the dreams people had thrown away as they’d passed from life into death. Looking at the black water, I could think of a million places I’d rather swim. (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
Like what I have said in The Lost Hero blog, I have enjoyed viewing things in Percy’s ADHD affected perspective ie. Riordan’s writing style. Fine, the sentences were short which was probably due to Percy’s short attention span and some say it was a little tiring, but I did enjoy the pausing and the short paragraphs.
“Thanks for coming,” I told him. “Hey, why do pegasi gallop as they fly, anyway?”
Blackjack whinnied. Why do humans swing their arms as they walk? I dunno why, boss. It just feels right. Where to? (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
A cold fist closed around my heart. “You were the spy.” (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
Also, there was a little romance in the story. Seriously, I would not deny that as much as in love I was am with Percy, I felt giggly with his young love with Annabeth. They were just so cute! The way Annabeth, daughter of no less than Athena, called him Seaweed Brain and all the adventure they had together, it was GURGGLEBLURABUB. You know, unintelligible, too cute and to innocent.
She got a faraway look in her eyes. Her breath smelled of grapes, maybe from the nectar. “I don’t know, Percy. I just had a feeling you were in danger. Where . . . where is this spot?”
I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. But this was Annabeth. If I couldn’t trust her, I couldn’t trust anyone. (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
Of course, there was some third party involved, and boy, was I laughing too much with the witty and smart ass dumping of Rachel, a mortal who played a crucial role in the Titan War, to Percy.
“Wait. What is she talking about?”
Rachel took a shaky breath. “Percy, when I came here . . . I thought I was coming for you. But I wasn’t. You and me . . .” She shook her head.
“Wait. Now I’m a distraction? Is this because ‘I’m not the hero’ or whatever?”
“I’m not sure I can put it into words,” she said. “I was drawn to you because . . . because you opened the door to all of this.” She gestured at the throne room. “I needed to understand my true sight. But you and me, that wasn’t part of it. Our fates aren’t intertwined. I think you’ve always known that, deep down.”
I stared at her. Maybe I wasn’t the brightest guy in the world when it came to girls, but I was pretty sure Rachel had just dumped me, which was lame considering we’d never even been together. (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
Good gods, I hope that when they film this scene, they better not ruin it and suck the humor out, like what they did to the first film. OH MY GODS, it was goddamn disaster! But I was done ranting about the film in my personal blog. Here.
Best of all, the series is hooked in the Greek sayings or beliefs that:
- The Greek gods are immortal and, thus, they are still very much alive until now. Even after their reign as the great gods and goddesses.
- Remember the stories that the gods and goddesses go on falling in love with mortals and well, having their offspring? Well, yeah, they are the demigods.
In fact Riordan has even thought of finally a logical(?) or mythological explanation why some people were just so awesome beyond nature, ie. The Beatles.
Tactically speaking, the Plaza wasn’t the best place for a headquarters. It wasn’t the tallest building in town, or the most centrally located. But it had old-school style and had attracted a lot of famous demigods over the years, like The Beatles and Alfred Hitchcock, so I figured we were in good company. (Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian)
I don’t know if it was just because I am an inadequate reader, but I think the two premises that Riordan has based the whole series were brilliant. In my obscured and a little abnormal mind, it all made sense. The series, very much like Harry Potter, has a high probability rate since it is simply possible.
It’s funny how humans can wrap their minds around things and fit them into their version of reality. (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief)
Given how humans have always chosen what they what to see and all the international best-selling books about the power of mind and positive thinking, Riordan has picked the perfect excuse or defense to his series through the Mist, which was easily created by the gods, goddesses, and other mythological creatures. The Mist has become a way for them to manipulate the humans and how they would see and perceive things.
“This is why I don’t use mortals,” Luke said. “They are unreliable.”
“They are weak-minded, easily bought, and violent,” the General said. “I love them.” (Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse)
Riordan has put in these comments in several times, that indeed, we believe what we what to be believe. Even if we see clearly, see beyond the Mist, we still would doubt of the things that we see and we choose what we want to see, thus, making it easier to the deities to control our minds.
Somehow the series has become a mockery to the way of living of the people. According to the Greek Mythology, there had been five ages. We have come now to the Western Civilization, which is proven by all the current reign of the United States of America over the rest of the world in terms of aviation, technology, well basically, everything. Naturally, the gods would have preferred to settle in the most famous, if not the most powerful country in the world. Thus, they have come to the Empire State Building and have made their throne on the 600th floor of the building.
Just as the gods and humans alike enjoy the benefits of their power and reign, a war starts to stir. Naturally, an age will die down eventually, or better and scarier yet, the Western Civilization has to die. Another powerful side of the earth, country, or supreme deity will come to power. A new age will come.
Then the Titans threat of tearing the Olympus down, along with the age of Western Civilization. And isn’t it creepy that as I write this blog, the great America is in a huge crisis, recession even, and is at war? Not to mention, the coming into power of eherm, some countries in the East and other continents, coming at war?
But well, this is a Disney approved series. The good prevailed over the bad in the end, and with the help of the then-neglected heroes and demigods have saved the day and bought the Olympians a few more years or probably another age to be of power. But of course, victory has come with a price. The gods had to listen to a 16 year old demigod to make them keep oath and change old ways. The good over the evil, but does this say the same for the seemingly parallel happenings in reality?
There is the issue of immortality. People struggle to extend their lives into impossible lengths. We are greedy and we always wanted to have the peak of our youth and be well, alive and successful forever.
“Percy,” Grover said weakly, “even immortality has limits. Sometimes . . . sometimes, monsters get forgotten and they lose their will to stay immortal.”
Looking at Grover’s face, I wondered if he was thinking of Pan. I remembered something Medusa told us once: how her sisters, the other two gorgons, had passed on and left her alone. Then last year, Apollo said something about the god Helios disappearing and leaving him with the duties of sun god. I’d never thought about it too much, but now, looking at Briares, I realized how terrible it would be to be so old–thousand and thousand of years old–and totally alone.” (Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth)
In all honesty, I would not like to be immortal. I would eventually die and I have no trouble grasping that truth. I actually think it is sad to be an immortal, even when you are a god or goddess. There would be no rest, and good gods, who wouldn’t want rest with all the unrest everywhere?
Well, the Titan War did not end without deaths and it is thus again scary to think how a war with a few immortals and hundreds of monsters ended with a lot of lives gone, but what more with a battle between pure mortals, I mean, humans? A scary thought, isn’t?
“Your mother is a queen among women,” Poseidon said wistfully. I had not met such a mortal woman in a thousand years. Still . . . I am sorry you were born, child. I have brought you a hero’s fate, and a hero’s fate is never happy. It is never anything but tragic.” (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief)
As much as tragic and scary is the world presented by Riordan in his series, it did not stop me from wishing dreaming reaffirming my demigod roots. I remember reading the Harry Potter series when I was eleven and finding out that the letter is sent out to eleven year old witches and wizards, the thought that maybe my letter was just lost among the winds, or maybe the snail mail system of the Philippines had some trouble or something, or maybe because owls are uncommon in a tropical country.
“That’s right,” he said. “Humans don’t exist on the same level as the immortals. They can’t even be hurt by our weapons. But you, Percy–you are part god, part human. You live in both worlds. You can be harmed by both, and you can affect both. That’s what makes heroes so special. You carry the hopes of humanity into the realm of eternal. Monsters never die. They are reborn from the chaos and barbarism that is always bubbling underneath civilization, the very stuff that makes Kronos stronger. They must be defeated again and again. Heroes embody that struggle. You fight the battles humanity must win, every generation just to stay human. Do you understand?”(Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters)
My manuscript’s title was “Winged Hi-Tops” in dedication to my favorite Greek god Hermes, and my profile was more like a justification of my being a demigod than well, my “real” background. See? I confuse my real identity sometimes. The conviction that I am actually a demigod somehow sounds more plausible than just being too awesome for a mortal.
Also, my favorite line from the series actually came from my favorite Greek god. Here is some thought for you to ponder on, wise words from the god of travelers, thieves, and the Jack of All Trades:
“So what’s the moral?”
“The moral?” Hermes asked. “Goodness. You act like it’s a fable. It’s a true story. Does truth have a moral?” (Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters)