The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

“Being a hero doesn’t mean you’re invincible. It just means that you’re brave enough to stand up and do what’s needed.”

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Personal Thoughts:

Unlike with most readers or followers of Rick Riordan’s books, I’ve met Jason Grace first before Percy Jackson. I started reading book one of Heroes of Olympus (The Lost Hero) without knowing that the series is a continuation of another series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. But even if I have known Jason first before Percy, I am always intrigue with the missing boyfriend of Annabeth Chase. So right after I finished reading The Lost Hero, I started reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians and finished the whole series in a flash. After that, I get back with the Heroes of Olympus and start reading The Son of Neptune which just increase my obsession with Percy Jackson and push me to read the other extra short stories, novellas and even the diaries of demigod from Rick Riordan’s Greek and Roman’s mythology. With nothing else to read about these demigods I patiently waited for Rick Riordan’s third installment to Heroes of Olympus series, The Mark of Athena.

Even before the released I silently stalking Rick Riordan‘s website and his other online accounts to make sure I’ll get some news about The Mark of Athena. When he finally posted the book art cover and synopsis I get really excited. From the cover alone I anticipated that the two camps (Camp Half-blood & Camp Jupiter) will finally meet and I assumed that the plot will settle the rift between these two camps. I imagined how the seven demigods will work together for the greatest quest, especially with the presence of the two most powerful demigods (Percy and Jason). Thus said, I expected a blast of adventure from The Mark of Athena.

And as I expected there were lot of adventures, complicated quest and greater monsters. The present of Percy Jackson and Jason Grace in one quest alone is too much to handle. But somehow after reading I feel that there is missing. That in spite of all the adventures these seven demigods went through, I didn’t feel the same edge of excitement I feel when I am reading the previous books. I’m not sure what really went wrong but somehow despite of the long chapters and hundreds of pages, the book still failed to deliver an exciting quest. I feel sorry for Percy and Jason because I think that their characters were not fully utilized in the story. I know it isn’t easy to give all these seven demigods equal parts or each shining moments in one book, but still I think that they deserve more than what The Mark of Athena offers.

The Mark of Athena is told from the point-of-view of four characters, Percy, Annabeth, Piper and Leo. As much as I love reading from the point of views of different characters to see a closer view of what is really happening, some of the voices doesn’t ring authentic in my ear. Some narrations are a bit detached to the characters that it is hard for me to really get invested with them. At one point I wished that Rick Riordan just get back in using Percy Jackson’s voice alone, after-all his voice from the first five books was what made this series such a hit.

The characters are obviously growing older as Rick Riordan focus on couple relationships. He pair each of the demigods, with the exception of Leo Valdez, who becomes the seventh wheel. Even Percy’s half-brother has his own love interest too. Though I like some romance in my reading, too much of it is overbearing. It feels that the characters were thinking more of their partners and their relationship than the actual quest. Well, except for Jason who is always distant. Anyway, I didn’t pick up this book for that, If I want to read a love story, I’ll go and get a romance novel. I want more actions, fantasy and mythology than those love issues.

As much as I am happy that finally, Annabeth Chase has a quest on her own that doesn’t require much Percy Jackson’s assistance, and as much as I am happy to see Leo Valdez to be at front, navigating the quest with his Argo II, I still felt that Rick Riordan lose some of his magic. As hard as I tried, I didn’t feel the same intensity when I am reading his previous works. Yes, there were actions and more side quest, but somehow some of those side quest were not really essential to the story. Unless Rick Riordan’s has a greater plans utilizing those  side stories  for his next books. Also, why the monsters in this quest were so easy to trick or defeat? It lessen the excitement I usually get when reading this series.

I must admit though, that despite of unreached expectations, I still enjoy reading The Mark of Athena as a whole. There were still laugh out loud moments courtesy of Leo Valdez, sweet interactions from Percy and Annabeth, and unexpected little twist in the end. An ending that leaves the ultimate cliffhanger of the series so far. Which makes waiting for the next book for another year to be really difficult. I just hope that the next book, House of Hades will give Nico and Percy more important roles on the next quest of these demigods.


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