Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

 

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of his sixth school in six years. He's ADHD and dyslexic and bad things always happen to him.

But when his math teacher all of sudden turns into a monster and attacks him, Percy learns that the Greek Gods of myth and legend are real. And they are in America. New York to be precise. And even more startling, Percy is the son of one of them.

He is taken to a Camp, Camp Half-Blood, where he is trained to fight off the monsters that will hound him for the rest of his life.

But it takes only days before Percy must risk his and two of his friends lives on a dangerous mission to find Zeus's master lightning bolt. And if they fail to do so, there will be a war between a gods. A war that will destroy everything.

 

 

 

/*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***\

**/** SPOILERS ARE PRESENT **\**

 

 

Upon originally reading this book, my first impression was that it was extremely good. Good enough, that by the end of the whole first series, the series ranked number one on my list of Best Book ever. Today, while having dropped several places, it still ranks just above Harry Potter.

I love how Riordan intertwines the gods and modern society. He gives such reasonable reasons for things. And that continues throughout the whole series. He obviously has a great grasp on Greek Mythology, and these books have taught me a lot about the mythological entities or Ancient Greece.

And to anyone who asks...this book is nothing like the movie of the same title. It is inherently different and better. For a complete dissection on why the movie was so horrible look for its Movie Review page here on the site.

 

Now the story...

 

It start off with Percy Jackson's math teacher turning into a monster. So it started quickly. Mrs. Dodds turns into a fury and tries to like kill him in the first 15 pages of the book. And so, first time readers are like, "What the hell is happening?!?! What is this book?!?!". It makes for a great opening to the series and this book. Especially since, Percy gets to kill her using a pen that turns into a freaking SWORD. That's cool.

So Percy survives the next months of school, with all of the kids telling there never was a person called Mrs. Dodds. Including his friend Grover. So now, we are all like, "What is happening?!?!". The intrigue grows.

 

And when Grover freaks out over three old women cutting a strand of yarn. We get really confused. Why is this important. And why the hell is Grover so disturbed by this. So we are like, twenty five pages into the book and have not the faintest clue what is actually going on. Of course, we later find out, that those women are the Fates, controllers of the future, and that string is very important symbolically.

 

So when Percy gets home, we meet another fun character. As Percy calls him, Smelly Gabe. He's was a fun character for the twenty pages he was in the book. Playing poker, drinking alcohol, and being an a**hole. I'm glad they turned him to stone at the end. He would have been annoying if Riordan kept him through the rest of the series. Besides, eventually Percy would have gotten aggravated and killed him with a pen.

 

Now...why Percy and Sally Jackson enjoy blue food, who knows. I know they gave a reason, but is turning food blue at every opportunity really necessary. And to Gabe who thought there were no blue foods: what are blueberries??. I do think its funny that blue is the color of the sea, and Percy is son of Poseidon. That a great coincidence.

 

And now, more monster fighting begins. The minotaur comes knocking while Percy, Sally, and Grover, now a known Satyr are trying to get Percy to safety. By this point, I'm like "Why is the minotaur barreling through Long Island? What type of book is this?". At least it was cool though. Percy is like jumping around a massive bull and stabbing it with its own horn at the age of twelve. While, defending his unconscious Satyr friend, and his mom who is now in some other realm of existence (no she is not dead). Unfortunately, none of this would have ever happened had Percy not been stubborn and crossed the camp boundary when he was told too. But Percy is stubborn. That's his dominant character trait. Unfortunately, his stubbornness is not always good for him.

 

And to we are introduced to Camp Half Blood. Where demigods train, where swords are the weapon of choice, and where the Greek Gods remain alive (not literally but...). We finally learn what all this weird crap that been going on actually is. Greek Mythology is real. And its still real now. Moving with the West. The gods, the monsters, the titans, the underworld, everything is or was real. And now its coming to hunt down Percy because everyone thinks he stole Zeus's master lightning bolt. Only one problem, Percy didn't even know he was a demigod until that day. How would he be stealing the master bolt if he didn't even know about the reality of Greek Mythology?

Yah. Not one of Zeus's better thought out aggravations.

 

Apparently, Dionysius, the God of Wine, kind of runs the camp. More like he sits there, and threatens to turn people into animals should they misbehave (got to love turning people into animals though).

The camp is actually run by Chiron: trainer of heroes. Percy's former Latin Teacher. Full blown Greek centaur. Gotta love mythology.

 

The first camper we meet is Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athens. I'll discuss her in moment. The second (or possibly third) we meet is Clarisse. And she tries to dunk Percy's head in a toilet. Twenty minutes after awakening from a partial coma and slaying a minotaur with no training. Good thing that Percy had power over water.

This incident should have pretty much told everyone that he was a son of Poseidon. How many other demigods would be able to control water like that. Its not like there was a Greek water god. Or a river god. Or a god of toilets. How come no one assumed that he was a son of Poseidon right then and their? Logic people. Logic.

 

Back to Annabeth. She is apparently a daughter of Athena who stays at camp full time. She enjoys architecture and is very well studied on her Greek Mythology. While that sometimes gets annoying, it saves the world many times over. She goes along with Percy and Grover on this quest, and she pretty much turns into Percy's bets friend at camp.

 

And the came Capture the Flag. With full Greek armor and swords. So it's a very dangerous and deadly game of capture of the flag. One where you could easily get yourself get killed. And it doesn't take long for Percy to almost have that happen. Because Clarisse decides to hut him down.

First off, Clarisse's shock spear is a great weapon. I would just like to say that. It's a great and wonderful weapon. Too bad Percy breaks in half in this fight.

Second, it's a damn good thing that Percy figured out sword fighting from Luke. Otherwise he would be toast. Instead, he single handedly takes down two Ares campers, and battle against Clarisse, while Luke runs the flag back and claims victory.

Another perfectly done Athenian plan. Thank you Annabeth.

So, with the Flag captured, everything is good right. Wrong. Because a Hell Hound (big dog from the underworld) gets into camp and attacks Percy. Chiron shoots the dog, but at the same time, we find out that Percy is healed by contact with water. And that he is, truly, a Son of Poseidon. Because Poseidon, sends a  holographic Trident hovering over his head. At least there's no more guessing as too his parentage. Not that there should have been any guessing anyway, but peopl are stupid.

 

And now, we get to the meat of the story. The quest to save the Lightning Bolt. Chiron gives Percy a tale in which, Hades has someone steal the Lightning Bolt for him, causing Zeus and Poseidon to feud with each other. This would incite a war between the gods which would give Hades a chance at rising to sit at the throne of Olympus. While a good idea, it doesn't stop the fact that everyone believes that Percy is the thief, and that if the bolt is not returned by the summer solstice, the gods will go to war. And so, Percy get a quest.

Yep, a week into training and he's already going on quest to the Underworld to find the most powerful object in the known universe and stop a war between the gods. Just your typical camper activities. But first, he needs to see the oracle and get a prophecy.

 

I am going to dissect the prophecy right here for everyone:

 

You shall go west and face the God who has turned;

You shall find was stolen and see it safely returned;

You shall be betrayed by the one that calls you friend;

And you shall fail to save what matter most in the end.

 

Line 1: they travel to California and face down with Ares who was the perpetrator of the war.

Line 2: They found the lightning bolt and returned it safely to Olympus.

Line 3: at the very end of the book, Luke betrays him, saying that he has joined forces with the Titan Kronos in an attempt to destroy Olympus.

Line 4: In the end, Percy did not save his mother from Hades, but she was later released.

 

So now ... on with the quest!!!!

 

WAIT!!! We have two more important things to talk about. First, Luke's Flaying shoes. They sound like a god idea. They could have come in handy, had Percy been able to fly. And it's a good thing that he couldn't because he would be in the depths of Tartarus by the end of the book. (He has to wait a while for that journey to happen). Second, Anaklusmos. Riptide. Percy's sword. Uncap the ballpoint pen and....you have a three foot long celestial bronze sword. I want a pen that turns into a sword. I wonder if it still works as pen. Probably not though. Plus, it returns to his pocket if he uses it. That's a nice and handy feature. Never has to look for his pen. Never has to look for his sword.

 

Now...after all that hype...the quest begins. And it definantly begins with a bang.

 

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover get on a bus and in like forty-five seconds are having a showdown with the furies for a second time. But we start to get a possible hint that they may have interpreted their quest incorrectly. The furies act as if they want to find the lightning bolt for Hades, but Percy, Annabeth, and Grover think that Hades already has the bolt. So a big fight breaks out, ending with the bus exploding and the demigods meeting Medusa.

 

Yep Medusa. She's back too. Working as a garden gnome maker. A very good one at that. This is another instance of how Riordan so expertly puts Greek Mythology into the modern ages. Medusa making garden gnomes is completely legitimate. That a perfect job for her. Of course, she made the statues by turning actual people to stone, but still. (I wonder if she can turn flies to stone. That would be helpful). And so, like with the Furies, a fight breaks out, ending with the severing of Medusa's head by Riptide. And then Percy figures it's a good idea to send the head, which still had the power to turn people to stone, to Olympus.

 

And then the Chimaera. This one is more Annabeth's fault than anything. She just HAD to go see the Arch because she wanted to be an architect. And then that ends up with Percy falling into the Mississippi River and a large hole in the arch (presumably caused by terrorists). The chimaera was in a pretty good disguise as a pink poodle. No one expects a little poodle to transform into a three headed, lion-goat-snake, monster. This is also an example of why it's a bad idea for demigods to separate themselves from ach other. When that happens, monsters attack.

 

So with that, Percy also finds out that a) he can converse with water spirits b) he can't get wet in water (unless he wants to) and c) he can breath underwater. All very helpful features.

 

And now, we get to meet our second god (first if we don't count Dionysius). Ares. God of War. Riordan describes his like he's a biker with a giant knife. And that's probably a fairly accurate description of him. And he gives the demigods + satyr a fun job to do. Go get his shield back from a waterpark.

Word to the wise: don't do things the Gods tell you to do. There is usually some reason they don't want to do it. And it usually means unleashing the wrath of some other God, or its protected by some vicious monster. In this case, Hephaestus, rigged the shield to unleash a bunch of tiny robotic spiders when it was moved. So of course, Annabeth being a daughter of Athena, she is deathly afraid of spiders and had a fit the second they came out. This isn't to mention the fact that while all of this was happening, their were a bunch of camera waiting to broadcast to Olympus.

When they somehow manage to get the shield back to Ares, he gives them a backpack and a ride to Vegas in a truck of animals.

 

Of course, Grover being a Satyr, he had a small conniption fit when he found the animals in cages. SO when they got to Vegas, they just let them all run out of the back of the truck. I'm sure this caused some commotion, while all of the mortals are standing their taking pictures of the animals. Does anyone else think, that the lion would just like chase the zebra until he caught it. After all, they are still wild animals.

 

Then we get to meet more monsters. Kind of. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover decide it's a good idea to walk into a casino/hotel and end up finding out that the Casino is home to the Lotus Eaters of mythology. So they end up spending five days in a casino while the Gods are busy starting a war with each other. That leaves them one day to find and return the bolt. And lets all get real, it's a 4.5 hour drive to Los Angeles and then a sixish hour flight back to New York. Not to mention the time they spend in the Underworld.

 

So we are finally at the Underworld. Land of the dead. Doman of Hades. Supposed hiding spot of the master bolt. But first, Charon. In the original stories, I believe Charon was dead, so why he wanted a pay raise I don't know. Why does a spirit need to be paid. I don't have the faintest idea. But I guess telling Hades that Charon wanted a pay raise was good enough for Charon to ferry them into the Underworld.

 

Now, the underworld was beautifully described as uninviting. Grey and black. Thousands of dead souls standing in line to be assigned wherever. And Cerberus in an ethereal form. Why Cerberus likes to play with balls, I'm not sure. You would think he would like human heads more. But I guess his inbred canine instincts took over.

 

While, the demigods and satyr are on their way to we get to the part of the story that ties it to the rest of the series story line. Tartarus. The shoes that Luke gave Percy to wear turned out to be enchanted and dragged Grover towards the pit of Tartarus. And there Percy gets to meet the place in his dreams. The pit where a powerful voice keeps trying to suede him to join his side. Whatever that means.

 

And now we meet another god. Hades. Lord of the Underworld. And not the thief of the lightning bolt. Yep. He didn't steal the bolt. But Percy brought the bolt to him. The backpack that Ares gave him contained the master bolt. And Hades offered up Percy's mother for a trade. One problem. The pearls that Percy got from the sea nymph, only carry one person out of the underworld. And now, with Percy's mother, there are four people to transport. SO who stays behind.

Grover's plan made the most sense. Being a satyr being trapped in the underworld and dying would not be the same for him as for the others. He claims he would reincarnate into a flower or bush . I'm not going to question the validity of that statement, but if that's true then it definitely made the most sense to leave him.

But Percy makes the right decision to not give Hades the bolt (which would have probably ended up in his death and the dearth of most of the rest of the world) and gets all three of them out of the Underworld. Only to meet the traitorous god Ares.

 

I have to admit. I didn't at all expect Ares. I thought the bolt was stolen by Hades and he was trying to throw everyone off by sending the Harpies to act like they were looking for it. I was dead wrong. Ares obtained the bolt and was hiding it from everyone. Until he gave it to Percy. And if Percy got it back to Olympus, Zeus would pretty much be pissed at Ares for not returning his weapon of power. So theirs a great big battle.

Percy had skills with a sword, but when fighting the God of War, you better be the God of Sword fighting, or else you screwed. And Percy is no God of Sword Fighting. Instead, he uses the power of the sea to hack at Ares Achilles tendon. I guess that made Ares aggravated because he pretty much tried to kill off Percy by showing him his true godly form. Good thing, Annabeth knew what would happen, so she told Percy to look away. That pretty much saved Western Civilization.

 

And so, the bolt has been saved. And Percy gets it Mount Olympus. At the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Percy describes it as a giant mountain rising from the clouds above New York. That a fun thought. If I ever go to New York City I'll be looking for that mountain in the sky, no question. He meets all of the gods. Zeus. Poseidon. Athena. Aphrodite. Etc. They're all like 12 feet tall sitting on big thrones. Pretty much you typical godly depictions. And so the world is saved.

 

But then we have Luke. The true lightning thief. And an agent of Kronos. The evil titan lord is on the rise. And attempting to bring down Olympus once and for all. And Luke is his primary agent. He tries to kill off Percy with a deadly scorpion before revealing that he wishes to tear down Olympus. And so we have the plot line that will continue throughout the rest of the books. Protecting Olympus from Kronos.

 

Continue the story with, The Sea of Monsters.