The Blood of Olympus, Rick Riordan

Blood of Olympus, Rick RiordanThe Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

First Published: 2014

Pages: 514 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Heroes of Olympus #5

Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

Seven Heroic Demigods.
One Final Quest.
The Greatest Sacrifice Yet.

‘The ruins are up there,’ Piper promised. ‘I saw them in Katoptris’s blade. And you heard what Hazel said. “The biggest -“‘
‘”The biggest gathering of evil spirits I’ve ever sensed,”‘ Jason recalled. Yeah, sounds awesome.’

After surviving many deadly quests, Percy, Jason, Annabeth and their friends face one final challenge: defeat an army of giants before the Earth Mother, Gaia, finally awakes and brings about the end of the world…

It finally came out in paperback! Which means I am finally finished with the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series. Sad days! Heroes of Olympus took a couple of books to really grow on me, I did not love it instantly in the same way I loved Percy Jackson, and I still think the previous series is superior, but I grew to love HoO and its characters far more over these five books than I was ever expecting when I picked up The Lost Hero. And I am genuinely sad to see it end.

The Blood of Olympus, concludes the story of the fight against Gaia (Mother Earth) and her giant offspring’s attempts to weaken the gods by setting their Greek and Roman aspects off against each other, and destroy the world. The time for Gaia’s resurrection is finally drawing close and our cast of Greek and Roman heroes must race against time across Greece to the Acropolis at Athens to prevent it, knowing that at least one of them is prophesied  not survive the encounter. Meanwhile our secondary heroes, Nico and Reyna, must return to America to forge peace between the Greek and Roman camps before they wipe each other out.

With the seven primary heroes of the prophecy all united again after The House of Hades, I have to admit I was curious to see how Riordan was going to handle the numerous point of view chapters, even before I saw that Reyna and Nico were promoted to point of view characters. The answer is that a lot of the characters have been dropped as narrators for the final book; so don’t expect any Percy, Annabeth, Frank, or Hazel focussed chapters. While they still get plenty to do and lots of individual badass moments, the story is more focussed on the original three heroes from the first book; Jason, Leo, and Piper. And my how they’ve all grown up!

I don’t think I made any secret, in my Lost Hero review, how much I disliked Piper and Jason and found their amnesiac/false-memory romance to be an unnecessary  plot tumour. Well I am genuinely very happy to say that my opinion on Piper has done a complete 180 since. From finding her obnoxious and Jason-obsessed, she is now one of my favourite characters; her relationship with Jason a mere footnote to her more narratively fulfilling girl-friendships with Annabeth, Hazel, and Reyna. From initially coming off as ‘so pretty all the girls hate her’, she’s become the emotional heart of the team – while also capable of breaking out into badassery when required. My feeling on Jason haven’t gone through quite such a radical change, he’s still the blandest of the demigods, but he’s grown and matured and finally, in this book, is able to decide on where he fits between the Greek and Roman sides. Leo is, as ever, Leo, and I love him, but he now comes with a slightly tumorous romantic plot of his own (if I have one criticism of this series it would be the way almost everyone pairs up).

The real delight, for me, came in seeing Nico finally given his own perspective on events. A dark-horse favourite in the Percy Jackson series, Nico grows more and more interesting with each novel. And, after being forcibly outed to Jason in the last book, Nico becomes the first confirmed gay demigod in the series. So it was really really great to see a bit (ok, a lot) more of him. Riordan has been so good, in this series, at representing diversity (the majority of the main characters are not white and their racial backgrounds are a big and acknowledged part of who they are), that I was really looking forward to seeing Nico get a bit more page time. And I wasn’t disappointed. And pairing him up with Reyna, the dark-horse favourite of this series, was a great move too. I love my odd and fiercely protective friendships, and Reyna is a flawed Roman badass with a backstory that gets more and more tragic, the more its revealed. In fact, Nico and Reyna’s task of uniting the Roman and  Greek camps is ultimately probably the stronger of the two main plot lines  in this book.

Despite the time limit, and the prophecy foretelling the death of a main character, there seemed surprisingly little urgency in the main plot to catch up with and prevent Gaia’s resurrection. For all that dates and ‘running out of time’ kept being mentioned, there somehow seemed a bit too much time for the crew of the Argo II to ramble around famous Greek cities collecting various plot Macguffins without ever seeming to be in too much of a rush. Of course, the various side adventures and run ins with famous monsters, gods, and mythological villains has always been one of the strongest points of the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series but a little more ramping up of tension for the climax might have made it a bit more rewarding. Especially when Gaia and the giants were dealt with in an even more perfunctory way than I had been expecting. The stakes in Heroes of Olympus, despite the prophecy, have always felt less than the stakes in the final Percy Jackson novel, where a small host of secondary and tertiary characters were violently killed off, and I could have done with a little bit more of that tension and uncertainty. The plot armour in this series feels a lot thicker, and I have to admit that I never really expected that any of the main characters would die, prophecy or no (though I refuse to say in my review whether I was correct about this).

But, all in all, a slightly disappointing climax didn’t really bother me too much. Percy Jackson has always been more about the journey and the side adventures and the characters. And that Riordan does very well.

I am sad to see this series finish. But, on the bright side, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard has already been announced. And I’m a sucker for Norse mythology too!

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