Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Heroes of Olympus: Book One- The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Jason wakes up on a school bus, and realizes something is wrong. For one thing, he has no idea what he is doing on the bus or who he is. He doesn't even remember his two best friends from the school, Piper and Leo. Piper is apparently his girlfriend, or wishes she could be, and Leo is his best friend, but he remembers none of that. It isn't until the group of kids is attacked out of nowhere by monsters from Greek Myths that Jason, Piper and Leo are revealed as Demigods, and are taken to Camp Half-Blood.

But when they get there, Chiron is surprised to see Jason, and a little frightened as well. Since Jason calls Zeus by his Roman name, Jupiter, and seems more comfortable with the Roman version of Zeua. But Camp Half-Blood is meant for the children of Greek Gods. It seems that the Greek Gods are the same, but not identical, and that there may be some sort of confusion as to where Jason was meant to end up.

But two more problems are afflicting Camp Half-Blood. One is the disappearance of Percy Jackson without notice or warning. His girlfriend, Annabeth, and his friend Grover, were expecting to spend the entire summer with him, but now they are searching for him, instead. And one of the Hephaestus tents creations, a golden, mechanical dragon, has gotten loose and gone crazy, imperiling the entire camp. The Hephaestus kids are attempting to catch and destroy it, but with little success.

Meanwhile, Piper and Leo are discovering their own Godly parents. Leo is a child of Hephaestus and a female engineer who later died in a fire. Leo is terrified of fire, because he felt he started the fire that killed his mother, and he happens to be immune to fire as well. The other kids in his tent are somewhat scared of him because of this, because when a child of Hephaestus that cannot be burned shows up, it means bad stuff is coming. The last Demigod born with immunity to fire was the one who originally built the dragon that is now causing such bad problems for the camp, and Leo feels that it is his job to fix the "problem".

Meanwhile, Piper, who is the daughter of a famous actor, is claimed by Aphrodite, which she isn't happy about at all. The Aphrodite tent's insistence on being girly really peeves her off, and the girl in charge uses one of her demigoddess powers, to command people with her voice, to keep everyone else in line. But Piper isn't having any of that. She resents being the same kind of person that the girls in the Aphrodite tent are, and when the head camper there tries to push her around, Piper discovers that she has the power to get people to do as she says, merely by asking them- one of Aphrodite's powers. She uses it to overcome the head of the Aphrodite tent, who has been using her own power to do the same on the other Aphrodite campers, and wins the other campers friendship in return.

Meanwhile, Leo has encountered the dragon, and discovers its problem- a dirty and rusty control gear in its head. He tames the beast, and discovers a hidden workshop that was apparently used by the last child of Hephaestus to be unharmed by fire. In it, he finds a number of plans that may be useful to combat the looming threat, whatever it is, and the dragon becomes a cross between a pet and transportation.

A new prophecy arises, and it seems that Zeus has prevented the Gods from contacting their mortal children. But why? And who is the strange woman that speaks in Jason's dreams, and what has happened to Percy Jackson, and does his disappearance have anything to do with the coming Doom foretold? Chiron knows more than he is telling, but what is the truth, and can Jason, Piper and Leo discover the truth behind Jason's identity and vanquish a number of supernatural threats along the way?

I loved this book! This story starts out being told from Jason's point of view, but successive chapters switch between the main viewpoint characters so that by the time the quest starts, you are invested in each of them and their stories. I found Jason's to be surprising, and it gives even greater depth to the series when you realize he is related to a character who was featured in the previous books, but in a very strange and roundabout way.

Jason, just like Percy before him, has two steadfast companions, but unlike the previous books in the previous stories, this time we get to see their point of view instead of being interpreted by the main character. And yet it never diminishes the power of Jason's story- instead, the book becomes more of an ensemble cast story and enriches the other two half-bloods, making them all main characters instead of just companions sharing Jason's quest. They have their own quests that are more than just tangentially related to Jason's, whether it is Piper's quest to determine if her famous actor father really cares for her (and later, to rescue him) and Leo's quest to overcome the fear of being responsible for his mother's death, and then to step up and be the one who will be making the machines and weapons that might be able to overcome this new threat. It's thrilling to read, and allows Jason's quest to discover his identity, as well as find the woman he must rescue, to not always be center stage.

This book is incredible, written by a writer at the top of his game and in full command of his worldview and world-building. It fleshes out the story of Camp Halfblood in an ultimately believable and satisfying way while expanding the world with new characters and new quests, and a new doom to be fought. If you enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, or even if you enjoyed the Kane Siblings book/series The Red Pyramid, this is a book you should pick up, as the story is sure to thrill and delight you. Highly recommended.

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