The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)The Blood of Olympus

by Rick Riordan

Hardcover, 516 pg.
Disney-Hyperion, 2014
Read: October 25 – 28, 2014
Well, after ten novels, it’s time to say good-bye to Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and the other residents of Camp Half-Blood — not to mention their new-found allies and friends (when they’re not trying to wipe them out) from Camp Jupiter. But first they have to stop Gaea and her army of giants from wiping out the gods, humanity, and all life as we know it.

Just another day for these demi-gods, really.

As is the norm for Riordan’s books, our heroes are faced with a series of tasks which build up to a major confrontation — this time, a couple of them. It’s amusing as usual to see these kids outwit various minor gods, titans, etc. Good teacher that he is, Riordan gives his readers plenty of education about the Greek and Roman pantheons under the thin disguise of plot development.

The big epic battles that he’s been building for since the beginning of this series — well, they were epic. They were tension filled. And still managed to be funny. And will likely be read with breaths caught, and lumps in throats. Possibly the funniest visual in Riordan’s works appears in the midst of one of these battles, and for a second I was torn between enjoying it and turning the page to find out what happened next.

My one quibble was that the resolution to the Gaea story was a little too easy, a little too quick after all this build up. Still, the way he wrapped up the other story lines and conflicts was sufficient, so I was able to move past it easily. Riordan continues dabbling in themes I’d prefer not to see in MG books, but I know I’m in the minority on that.

At the end of the day, especially at this point in these series, it’s the characters that readers care about. I read this ahead of my son (who started these back when there were only three in the original series, and is now a good deal older than the target audience) and made a joke about something bad happening to Grover — and the glare he gave me probably took a year off my life. It’d that kind of dedication that Riordan instills in his fans. As such, there’s plenty of development and resolution given to these characters — Riordan doesn’t spell out their futures the way that Rowling did at the end of her series, but he gives us enough to be able to say good-bye.

Riordan does right by his characters — Reyna, Jason, and Frank particularly. Annabeth and Piper shine like neither has before. And Leo Valdez is even more of a star than he was before (if I’m going to talk about my son’s soft spot for Grover, I’d better be honest about my Leo-centric focus). I’m not saying they all survive, or are otherwise unscathed, but Riordan treats his characters with respect and keeps his readers turning the pages.

It’ll be odd not getting a new adventure with these characters next year, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Riordan does with the Norse pantheon (and learning about them, too).

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4 Stars

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

The House of Hades
The House of Hades

by Rick Riordan
Hardcover, 597 pg.
Hyperion Books, 2013

I guess I already said the essence of what I have to say about this back when I checked in midway. This is a fun read, but a tad formulaic. However, it’s Riordan’s formula, so he pulls it off very well.

Hades didn’t charm me as much as his book usually do, and I’m not sure if that’s just me, or if it was a flaw in the book. Part of it was knowing that there was one more book, no matter what victories the Campers scored, they were only going to set the stage for the ultimate battle. Even as I say that, I know that’s not the case — but a lot of it just felt like marking time until the final installment next year.

The central conceit of Riordan’s mythology books is that these kids — near-teens or teenagers — are beating various and sundry mythological creatures — from monsters, to nymphs, to Titans or gods — in a variety of contests, even in battles to the death. Which can be hard to swallow sometimes, if you stop and think about it. But this is a common thing even in the old myths — mortals outsmarting these types. Too many of these contests in Hades are resolved by the Campers goading their opponents into making an obviously stupid move. Once or twice a novel, they could get away with it. I should’ve written it down, but he used that trick at least three times (maybe four or five) — in any event, it was enough that I groaned at least twice.

I don’t want to come down to hard on this book, I did like it. I haven’t chuckled at an obituary like I did at the one included in this book in a long time (you were supposed to, I’m not that twisted). There were some great character moments, some good personal growth — most of which I can’t get into without getting really spoilery. But, in short — Frank’s growth (in every sense of the word) was fantastic; Percy (and to an extent, Leo) realizing some of his former blunders and broken promises — he really comes off looking far less heroic and more human (which ends up making him more heroic). I do wish we’d had a bit more Reyna, I think she was given short-shrift, but what she did was probably more important in the end than what happened in most of the book.

Leo Valdez, however, is the hero of this book (and he’s come close to being the hero of one or two others in this series). Riordan really makes him shine throughout. It’s a real pleasure to read every one of his scenes — whether he’s the point-of-view character for that chapter or not.

I’m looking forward to the final book in this series, I do fear that it’ll be the last Riordan series I read. Unless he returns to adult fiction, that is. I have one son that currently provides me excuses to read Riordan, but he’s getting a bit long in the tooth for these books and has pretty much decided this is it for him. Hopefully, we can get his little brother into them, so I can keep going.

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3 Stars

In Medias Res: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

as the title implies, I’m in the middle of this book, so this is not a review, just some thoughts mid-way through

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House of Hades
The House of Hades

by Rick Riordan

Okay, we’re in the home stretch of the third mythology-based series from Riordan, and by this time it’s pretty easy to what he’s up to, it’s like clockwork, the way he builds these things.

But just because his books have become formulaic doesn’t mean they’re bad. It’s not the formula, it’s the execution. There’s a reason that NCIS and Law & Order reruns are almost constantly on the air somewhere, they do it right. As does Rick Riordan. Fun, engaging, educational — bah, enough of this, I’m getting back to Percy, Jason, Annabeth, Leo and the rest.