I will be 24 when the final book of The Heroes of Olympus is released, and I still may not have found a Seaweed Brain for myself, by then–but this post is not about my old maid woes or where have I gone in the past x months(!!). This (comeback) post is about Rick Riordan’s much anticipated third installment, The Mark of Athena.
Okay, so maybe a little about me, squealing and squirming.
TMoA did not come short of adventures and monsters. I finished the book approximately half a day. I left my room only to get refill of food and for bathroom breaks, because the pacing was that good. I had a good time chasing monsters with them, too, all the way to Rome!
I have always been excited to read how Riordan will modernize mythological characters and monsters. But since Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I have been on the look out for the most famous demigod of all time, Heracles. In TMoA, he finally (dis)graced us with his presence. I was particularly interested on how Riordan will characterize the hero that was endeared to everyone. No thanks to Disney.
I liked Jeanette Winterson’s version of Hercules in her novel Weight. If someone can just toss to me that wonderful novel… Anyway, Riordan did not disappoint. I knew Hercules was a jerk: He was too full of himself. Fine, his fate was tragic, but he still he had too much going on and it somehow felt right that he ended up bitter and alone.
Heracles was just one of the terrifying mythological characters that the seven demigods met; TMoA was so a furiously packed adventure that I felt tired after reading it.
It’s worth noting too that, I made a deal with myself to not read TMoA before I finish rereading the The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune–both were really good–which proved to be a great decision, so I could familiarize myself again with the story, and a test of my E.Q. In case you’re interested, I won. Okay.
I anticipated a mix-up of adventures: who fought which monster, which giant was defeated by who, where did who go, who hates who. After all, the seven demigods are finally coming together(!!), and as much as I loved both books, part of the confusion I guess, was due to the lack of character development–to which, The Mark of Athena came through.
It could be because his characters were maturing, but I liked how Riordan explored the depth of his heroes: the cause of their battle, the source of their strength, their ungoldy woes. There was Leo being the seventh wheel, loveless among the throngs of couples (HUHUHU); Frank and his awesome shape-shifting skills but with a life being tied down by a candy-bar sized firewood; Hazel and her guilt and longing to correct her past mistakes; among many others.
I particularly liked how Piper’s character was developed: how she has to deal with being just a daughter of Aphrodite. I never thought that a daughter of the love goddess will be a part of the seven demigods who will save the world, and Piper was weighed down by people who think just like me. Surely, she would feel useless in the face of battle, but somehow, she learned to trust herself, and saved the crew quite a few times. Behold, the power of words (and charms)!
Oftentimes too, the two most powerful demigods, Percy and Jason, were knocked down/defeated, not to mention their egos were crushed and their disappointment were eating them. Jason felt like a floating powerful demigod to me before, but TMoA endeared him to me. I have come to accept that he was a straight-edge leader, and I was grateful for that. Percy remains my favorite mischievous demigod.
Percy and Annabeth are the only two pioneers in Riordan’s now seven-demigod- pack, and naturally, I have become very protective of them. It’s wrong, I know, but I have invested too much of myself with these two that their development as characters affects me.
Percy, well, he is a special case. I *fell in love* with him since Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and he has finally matured in TMoA. He learned to let go of things he cannot solve; he learned to take responsibilities more seriously; he was uhm more manly with his Lurve for Annabeth–the ever-reliable Annabeth who was burdened to walk alone and retrieve the Mark of Athena that was missing for centuries already.
I was excited for Annabeth. The past two books were cruel to her. While Percy had a vague sense that Annabeth was safe in Camp Half-Blood (While I’m at it, what happened to CHB, anyway?), Annabeth had scoured the world in search of her boyfriend. When they finally got reunited, they had to leave each other to fend off some monsters and attend to their respective quests. It was heartbreaking, a bit.
Although, I do think Riordan should lay off the romance department a little. The scene when Annabeth finally saw Percy, she kissed him and tackled him, was overkill and made me gag. PercAbeth (I have come to this Fan Girl existence. A SHIPPER!!) This says a lot since I really love this couple. Well, except that part where I would want to be Annabeth.
I liked how he explored Annabeth’s feelings the last few moments before she finally saw Percy; her anxieties felt palpable. But a kiss and a tackle? The spectacle was just too much. (Duh, Tin, spectacle nga eh.) I could live with just subtle displays of love–when Annabeth threw her knife at the river, and Percy toppled Octavian with his water powers and his deadpanned “You dropped this.” SQUEEEEEE!!
That’s my kind of romance.
What I did not realize, though, was when Riordan explained how Annabeth and Percy were perfect for each other, Annabeth being the leash that tames the wild, powerful Percy Jackson, it was foreshadowing of the best cliffhanger ending of Riordan. Of course, it makes sense: They have to be together.
It maybe because I’m still miffed at how the 11 year old ADHD, dyslexic boy grew into this man who once saved the world by killing Kronos, and was thrown to another quest to well, save the world again. They are finally growing up. Percy had just gone to literally (of course, in this Universe of Riordan, and mine, too) face the darkest of all places, to Tartarus, for the woman he loves.
This ending actually felt perfect. After closing the book, my mind was reeling for my Seaweed Brain had dropped to the most harrowing pit of the world. I calmed down a bit after realizing that I have a FULL YEAR to wait for The House of Hades.
CRUEL, I tell you.
But I guess waiting is a part of maturity and a show of love, no? (No. Don’t get too A Time Traveler’s Wife on me.)
These covers are
pretty handsome, and The Mark of Athena is second best to The Son of Neptune.
Also, I’m taking up an online Greek and Roman Mythology course at coursera.org. You guys can explore the site and enroll for a free class, too! Nope. Not a paid advertisement.