09 September 2012

Oh my gods!

Fantasy | Rick Riordan | The Lost Hero; The Son of Neptune

You know all about Percy Jackson, the demi-god son of a woman in New York and the Greek god Poseidon. Oh, you don't? Summary, then.

Rick Riordan wrote a whole set of six best-selling books about Percy Jackson, the dyslexic teen with ADHD who finds out one day that he's a demi-god and his best friend is a satyr who's been sent out into the world to protect him from monsters. These monsters have plagued Percy's life since his early teens, and made him shift from school to school as their depredations destroy buildings and worse. Now, Percy finds he has super-powers, and a Quest. Or six. He makes friends with other demi-gods in Camp Half-Blood where they grow up in relative safety, looked after by centaurs and a grumpy god, Mr D, the god of wine, who takes a dislike to our hero and insists on mangling his name at every opportunity. After saving assorted gods, their property, their kids, and even Olympus itself (which is these days parked over the Empire State Building, the Greek gods having moved to the USA without having to undergo immigration checks), Percy looks forward to the possibility of a relatively normal life with Annabeth, the daughter of [spoiler delete].

Anyway, this is a new series, and we are now introduced to Jason, the son of Jupiter, in a crackerjack scene with monsters and screaming kids at the Skywalk on the Grand Canyon. So, see, this is a series about demi-gods who are the kids of Roman gods. Except that all the demi-gods in Camp Half-Blood seem to think the Roman gods are just aspects of their own parents, and Jason becomes a bit of a misfit there. Particularly since he's lost his memory. And the memories that his new best friends have of him turn out to be fakes, to boot. He ends up with a Quest, too. Jason's quest is to free Juno from the clutches of a more ancient Power, who is waking, and must not wake. Oh, and the title comes from the fact that one of the great heroes of the camp is missing, a popular guy called Percy Jackson...

As in the previous books, the pace is relentless, the dialogues are teen American (as crackly good as the dialogues by James Patterson, dude), the super powers are awesome, and the number of secrets kept between the three main characters is bewildering. You can never predict what new monster, creature, creation, or thing is going to help or hinder them.

Riordan's imagination runs through new monsters and concepts like no other author I've come across except perhaps Larry Niven or Douglas Adams. Sure, many authors come up with cool stuff, and JK Rowling is no slouch either, in inventing crazy stuff that teens of all ages lap up eagerly. But the only ones to come up with so many new and crazy things in each book are Niven (the Emperor of new stuff), and Riordan.

Jason completes his quest--oh, you guessed that, did you?--and we get a teeny hint of where Percy might be.

But why hide the facts? You can read the salient points off the back cover of The Son of Neptune yourself. Percy, too, has lost his memory, and we find  him in the beginning of the second book at a camp for demi-gods, except, you guessed it, this camp is for the kids of Roman gods. The Romans picked up many gods from the Greeks, but their versions were usually different, sometimes just a bit, sometimes widely. Percy makes friends at the camp, and gets picked up by a couple of hitherto-loser kids to join them in--you're such a good guesser!--a Quest. The same dread Power that did the villainy in the previous book is still around. The magic stays right there till the very end.

This is another series that is going to be a best-selling series, because not only the resident teen, but the parent of the teen are going to be gulping these down by the volume.

Read, read. You will enjoy them. There's steam-punk stuff in The Lost Hero, too, in case you need more motivation.

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