Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena

 

Annabeth Chase has not seen her boyfriend, Percy Jackson in almost nine months. Now, she is about to see him again, in a Camp full of Roman Demigods. Camp Jupiter.

And when Leo Valdez, son of Hephaestus and creator of the flying Greek trireme, the Argo II, fires on the city of New Rome; all Hades breaks lose, forcing Annabeth and Percy, as well as Jason Grace, Piper McLean, Leo Valdez, Frank Zhang, and Hazel Levesque, to flee the Roman Camp and make for the ancient lands of Greece and Rome. Hoping to stop the earth mother Gaia from rising and destroying everything.

But the Prophecy of Seven is not there only problem. Annabeth has a second, more dangerous mission. To follow the Mark of Athena. A dangerous task left only to Athena's best and brightest children. But can Annabeth succeed where so many before her have failed?

With the world at stake, seven half-bloods must answer the call and stop Gaia. But will Rome and the Mare Nostrum prove to be too much for even the most powerful demigods?

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

The Mark of Athena was not as good the second time around. The first time I read it, it took me about 3 days and it was pretty much all I did. It was completely captivating and made everything else uninteresting. But the second time around, it felt kind of muted. It wasn't as awe-inspiring as the first time, and was nearly as captivating. Of course, that probably due to the fact that I knew that House of Hades was coming up after it.

 

But now for the story…

 

So the story pretty much picks up right where The Son of Neptune ended…with Camp Half Blood arriving on a giant flying war ship. And of course that went over well with the Romans. Just your everyday Greek Trireme flying over their city; complete with large bastillae and other weapons. What would you need to worry about there.

But everything stays okay for a while. The Greeks, lead by Jason, get off the ship and into Rome. They feast et cetera. Until that prophecy comes up.

 

For anyone who's counting, this is the quickest Riordan has ever revealed a prophecy in a book. Here it goes:

Wisdom's Daughter Walks Alone;

The Mark of Athena Burns through Rome;

Twins Snuff out the Angels Breath;

Who holds the Key to Endless Death;

The Giants' Bane Stands Gold and Pale;

Won through Pain from a Woven Jail

 

Line 1: Annabeth must walk Rome, alone

Line 2: She will be following the Mark of Athena through Rome

Line 3: Otis and Ephialtes, twin giants, are holding Nico di'Angelo (di'Angelo is 'the angel' in Italian) in a jar, hoping he will asphyxiate

Line 4: Nico holds information pertaining to how to keep monsters locked away in Tartarus for longer

Line 5: The Athena Parthenos is in Rome

Line 6: Annabeth secures the statue by breaking an ankle and having Arachne weave her own prison

 

After that, Octavian decides to be a dumb ass. He thinks that the Greeks are like trying some treachery and that they should be removed from the city. Of course, he also comments about Ella speaking of prophecy. But that’s not actually that important. Why exactly he thinks that the Greeks are setting them up for something, I don't know. Its now like Jason is all of sudden going to go from praetor of New Rome to its attacker. I know the dude wants to be praetor, but its not like he was going to get that position even if the Greek hadn't arrived. Because Percy had it then. I think he really just wanted something to complain about.

 

And while Reyna sentences him to go with Leo and inspect the Argo II, she take Annabeth on a tour of New Rome.

 

Of course Annabeth stakes the architectural standpoint on everything, commenting on fountains, and facades, and domes, and temples and everything else she could possibly see. But Reyna has her ulterior motives, like claiming that the prophecy Ella spoke has been heard before. When she was on Circe's island, someone has washed up muttering the same lines of the prophecy. It is the prophecy that the chosen of Athena here before setting out on their quest to find the Athena Parthenos. Will Annabeth make it the final time, the prophecy is heard?

 

And then Leo blows shit up. After being possessed by eidolon (see below) he shoot a bastillae at New Rome. Of course that incites rage, Octavian's death sentence, Reyna's mistrust, and end of any Greek + Roman combined forces.

Now lets think about this, Leo, a greek, just shot an exploding bastillae at a city of Roman demigods who already didn't trust them. Those eidolons know exactly how to work. That was the one sure way to destroy any chances of a Greek and Roman fighting duo, and making sure that only the seven alone were a threat. If I was a Roman, I would have picked up my weapons and stormed CHB too. So the truce that everyone wants, is pretty much done. Leaving the seven as the only force able to attack Gaia in the ancient lands.

 

But first, lets think about this. In The Lost Hero, Chiron claims that Jason, Piper, and Leo are obviously three of the seven of prophecy. We can assume that since Hera put Percy at Camp Jupiter, he is also one of the seven. But Hazel, Frank, and Annabeth are kind of up in the air. Of course, Hazel and Frank went on the quest with Percy to Alaska and fought Alcyoneus, that kind of qualifies them. But Annabeth is a different story. She only went to New Rome to find Percy. Her having to follow the Mark of Athena would have happened regardless of the Prophecy of Seven. She has no real connection to the quest. What if, she isn't actually part of prophecy. That would be something that Riordan would do his fans just to make us explode, but it actually could be important during the Blood of Olympus. Is she isn't one of the Seven, that means that Nico, or Reyna, or Octavion, could be. The prophecy does not dictate that the seven will all fight Gaia and the giants only that seven will be important. And as of now, Nico and Reyna and Octavian are all incredibly important. So its viably possible that one of them may be one of the seven and Annabeth isn't. Do I truly believe that? No, not really. I'm just saying it’s a possibility.

 

The next important item is Nemesis and the fortune cookie. Leo and Hazel are off looking for Celestial Bronze and they run into the goddess of revenge. Nemesis. She tells Leo that he will eventually find a problem that he can't solve. And that when he does so, to break a fortune cookie. But if he does, there will be consequences. Leo vows never to use it.

Good choice Leo. Don't use the cookie. Who knows what "consequences" are when it comes to gods. One problem. When gods give you things like this and tell you that you will one day need it; it means that you will one day need it. So he will have to use it. But the time better be dire.

 

And then we go to Kansas, thanks to Piper's knife.

Why? So we they can talk to Bacchus, the roman form of Dionysius. Why? So that he can tell them that he will require a sacrifice. That about all he tells them. Its not like god talk straightforward, so they should have expected some crytpic message like this. But it turns out to be a good thing that this message was given, because Percy, Jason, Piper, Annabeth, and Rome would be 100% dead by the end of the book without it.

And then the fun stuff comes on. The epic battle of Percy v Jason while being controlled by eidolons. And while this battle itself isn't super important, it does raise a fun question for consideration. Who is more powerful; Jason or Percy.

I would have to say Jason is the more powerful of the two based on godly inherited ability. Zeus is the God of the Sky. There is sky everywhere. Therefore Zeus and Jason have power everywhere. Percy only has power in and around water. There isn't water everywhere. Like in the middle of Kansas. Therefore, Jason is more powerful than Percy. If it was not based on godly ability then I would say Percy. He appears to be a better fighter than Jason and could probably best him in a one-on-one sword battle. But overall, I still say Jason is the more powerful of the two. Not better. Just more powerful.

And of course, this battle is all because of eidolons. Apparently they are spirits raised by Gaia that can inhabit living and inanimate beings and objects and control them. This was a brilliant move by Gaia. If Piper had not figured out the eidolons were there, Gaia could have had power over all of the seven demigods. She would have had the ability to send them to their deaths. Or to switch to her side. Or to attack Rome. It would have been brilliant. But, once again, Piper's charmspeak comes through. See; this is another instance of Piper being extremely important to the series and the outcome of the quest. Had she not been able to charmspeak, the eidolons would have stayed in the demigods and done who knows what. The whole quest would have been doomed from the start if not for her.

 

Next stop before the Mare Nostrum…Atlanta. The Seven pick some fun and odd places to stop along their way to Rome. And this wasn't even important, making me unsure about why Riordan included this set of chapters in the story. So Phorcys and Keto keep some naiads and sea monsters imprisoned in the Atlanta Aquarium. So?? Why is this important. Riordan always writes things with a purpose, but I have yet to figure out what the purpose behind this is. Who knows, maybe Blood of Olympus will reveal the answer.

 

And now we go to another American City. Charleston, South Carolina. And some fun things come up here too. First, there's the girls meeting with Aphrodite. This is the second time in all of the Percy Jackson book we have seen her. And again, its not truly important, just foreshadowing. Apparently, she once said something Reyna pertaining to Jason. Piper had beliefs that it relates her current relationship with Jason, but I don't think so. I think it is something deeper in more meaningful. What? I'm not sure. But I am decently sure that it had nothing to do with Piper.

Remember in The Titan's Curse, when Aphrodite tells Percy she plans on making his love life interesting? Remember that. Yah, she making good on her promise. Lets step back and consider what gone on in Percy's and Annaebth's relationship. Annabeth goes missing in The Titan's Curse and Percy goes on a whole cross country quest to save her. Then, in The Last Olympian, Annabeth is stabbed with a poisonous blade and barely survives. That was fun. Then they actually start dating, date for like three months, and then Hera steals Percy and places him at the Wolf House. And we all know what's going to happen at the end of this book and the whole of The House of Hades: tartarus. That was an adventure. And not to mention the possibilities that Blood of Olympus brings. Anything could happen there. They could be captured together to be sacrificed. One could be captured and be used as bait for the other. One could barely survive the final battle. Or some other dreadful thing I haven't imagined yet. But Aphrodite definitely kept her promise. Percy's love life has been interesting.

Then Annabeth goes tangent and looks for the Mark of Athena at Fort Sumter. And she finds a freaking Civil War era Map of Rome bearing the Mark. Why was that at Fort Sumter? Why was it not at CHB? Or Rome? Or Olympus? Or a thousand other places. Why a canon on Fort Sumter?

And just to make things interesting, Reyna appears at the same time. She admits that she does not believe that the attack on New Rome was the fault of the Greek but she must proceed to attack based on the wants of community (which Octavian quickly worked up). She claims that the next time they meet, it will be on the battle field. News flash Reyna!! Its Not!! You meet under very different circumstances.

And then the escape. There goes Percy and Jason working the winds and the water like they were born to. And in like seconds they are far away from the Battle of Fort Sumter. Those two seem pretty powerful when they work together. Lets remember that shall we. Its important.

 

Up until this point, Hazel has an interesting viewpoint on Leo. She claims that he IS or looks exactly like her former boyfriend (the one from 1942), Sammy Valdez. Yah. So about that. Turns out that Sammy Valdez was Leo's grandfather. What are the probabilities of something that ludicrous occurring. A girl from the 1940s dates a guy. The girl dies. Is brought back from the underworld seventy years later, to find herself working with her former boyfriends grandson. Think of the variables. The impossibilities.

 

And then comes shrimpzilla. One of Keto's monster. Was it Leo's fault the monster attacked. No. And yes. They should have had some warning about the attack yes, but its not like Leo decided to go for a swim and leave the ship undefended. He was not planning on being in a flashback for who knows what length of time. And the he defeats the monster with some epic Greek Fire. Of course, it probably was not a good idea of him to have packed Greek Fire onto a ship; considering Greek Fire's tendency to violently explode and kill people.

 

With the destruction of the shrimp monster, we meet some Chiron's relatives: icthyocentaurs. There's just one thing weird about them: they don't have any want to meet Percy, son of the sea god. Prince to the oceans. For being oceanic creatures, you would think they would at least like to meet him. Or not. But they do foreshadow some problems for Hazel, Frank, and Leo in Rome. They claim they face some mechanical difficulties; whatever that means. Just stay near Leo. You’re the mechinc dude.

 

Then we finally hit the Mediterranean. Or we hit Hercules instead. Now Hercules was an odd character. He made a bunch of derogatory comments about sons of Zeus/Jupiter and what not. I don't think this is foreshadowing anything for Jason and Piper but if you look at the myths, many sons of Zeus and Jupiter do have relationship problems.

Then we fight a bull. Or a man bull. No the minotaur is back. Its his relative (not really) Achelous. Some unknown river spirit. This dude was kind of dumb; or so I thought, but here comes Piper to the rescue. AGAIN. She single handedly saves Jason. Gets Hercules horn and barters for the safe passage of the Argo II. Just because she has done nothing quest changing yet, does not mean she is useless. Because in this case, she is the hero. Jason would be dead twice now if not for her. And so would Percy.

So yah, that Horn of Plenty is kind of interesting. It just shoots food everywhere. I feel like this a flashback to Percy's minotaur horn from the Lightning Thief, but they aren't really that alike. That horn could come in handy later though. Like if you need a victory feats after they defeat Gaia and the giants. That would be a good time to break out the Horn of Plenty.

But now we get to the true question here: was Hercules a disappointment to Jason? Probably. All demigods look up to Hercules. Half of them go back and kill monsters that he killed the first time. Percy killed some he never had. And yet the greatest demigod of all time acted like a dumbass. And for Jason tahts probably worse, since he's related to him. But its not like we seem him again, so we can let that go.

 

So now, the seven demigods of prophecy are into the Mare Nostrum. And it lives up to their expectations. Stymphalian Birds attack. Sea monsters attack. Another son of Medusa attacks.

 

Yah another son of Medusa. Apparently she had two children: Pegasus, and this dude Chrysaor. And Chrysaor is much cooler than Pegasus. He disarms Percy is like three strokes, which was pretty impressive, since Percy is considered one of the best sword fighters of the era of demigods. And this leads us to the conversation about whether Percy was actually "out of practice" or if Chrysaor is really that good. Chrysaor was actually that good. I don't think it would have mattered whether or not Percy has been preparing for that battle for months, Chrysaor still would kicked his ass. I guess when you have three thousand years to practice swordplay it starts to pay off.

And then we get another odd thing going on (as if Percy being beaten in a sword match wasn't crazy enough): Percy actually comes up with a plan. It wasn't Annabeth this time. Percy had some genius plan that Chrysaor's men, who were partially dolphin, had some run in with Dionysius/Bacchus (because he seems to fancy the idea of turning people into dolphins). So Percy gets the brilliant idea to convince everyone Dionysius is on board and he has changed Frank into a dolphin. Thank you Shape Shifting Abilities. And then we get a big fight, in which Frank turn into bear and sends Chrysaor over the edge of the boat.

Then we get to sacrifice some sodas to gods. Apparently, Dionysius and Bacchus like Diet Coke/Pepsi, because their tribute pays off in the fight with the giants.

 

And we are finally in Rome. Not New Rome. The Rome. Rome, Italy. Land of the Gods. Home to the Mark of Athena. The City that is about to be destroyed that day. That Rome.

 

So we are going to follow the three groups all the way through their adventures in a row. I know they happened simultaneously in the book, but that would be cofusing to write. So we are going to follow Annabeth; then the Hazel, Frank, Leo group; and then the Percy, Jason, Piper group.

 

So Annabeth first. Time to follow that burning Owl that has caused so much trouble this book.

Step one in finding the Athena Parthenos: don't get killed by ghosts. And the best way to do that is to act like you know everything about them. All of their secrets. All of their rituals. Their names. Their hierarchy. Everything. Or at least that Annabeth's plan. I think it worked pretty well. It probably would have been better though if she hadn’t brought down the ceiling on top of everyone. That proved to cause some problems later on.

And those problems include some broken bones. Like an ankle. One of the more important bones. This is another inaccuracy in the power of ambrosia in nectar. In the PJO books, it was claimed that ambrosia and nectar could heal bones with ease; but in the HOO series bones seem to take a while to heal even with ambrosia. Why the inaccuracies, Riordan? We will recognize them? And this actually proves to be problem this time; unlike in The Lost Hero when the same bone breaks in Piper's leg. This time, our bone-breakee is lucky to be alive because of it.

Step two: learn to weave. Apparently all children of Athena can weave whether they know it or not. Because Annabeth commented that she was never a glorious weaver but that she had no problems weaving the bridge to cross that fifty foot chasm. Isn’t that weird. I wonder if Athena was giving some divine help at this point in Annabeth's quest? Maybe. Athena obviously wanted the Athena Parthenos rescued. She might have started siphoning weaving abilities into Annabeth.

And then we get to the mother of all spiders: Arachne. The biggest, oldest, most dangerous spider of all time. The original spider. The one that decided it was a good idea to try and best Athena in a weaving competition. And then lost. Or did she lose? According to Annabeth, she may not have. She apparently weaves masterfully. Maybe even better than Athena (*Athena here: NO ONE WEAVES BETTER THAN ME!!!! NO ONE!!*). And now for the master plan: the Frank Zhang inspired plan. The Chinese Handcuffs plan. That plan. Arguably the greatest plan in the history of plans. The "let have Arachne weaver her own trap and uncase the Athena Parthenos at the same time" plan. Lets just say that it worked beautifully. Unlike most other plans in the PJO/HOO series.

Well…I guess perfectly isn't the best word. There is still Tartarus come.

 

Now we will go to the love triangle group of Leo, Frank, and Hazel.

Yah so we get some Leo World insight. Apparently, he thinks he's like the second greatest person of all time, behind only Archimedes himself. This is also the only time that we here Leo speak about anything historical. But I will bite, the Archimedes Room was probably pretty damn cool. Lots of gold and bronze spheres. Some manuscripts. Automatons. And everything else mechanical. Leo probably would have been content with living down there for the remainder of his life.

But those dumb eidolons have to come and screw things up. How exactly can spirits possess and control inanimate pieces of armor? Its not like the armor can do things, they re inanimate. They don't do anything. So how can spirits possess them and make them move? And how did they get to the Archimedes room anyway? Did they like pass through solid ground? Because that would have been nice to know beforehand. I have no answers to any of those questions, this part of the book confused me in several ways.

The next part of the Archimedes room is the most important. This is the room with THE Archimedes Sphere. The Sphere to control all spheres (Since Gaia is the earth, and the earth is a sphere, can the Archimedes Sphere control her. That’s a good backup plan.). Unfortunately its locked like a safe. And Hazel and Frank are about to be killed by some tazers. This is a problem he can't answer. ITS FORTUNE COOKIE TIME.

This is the other part of this sceen that confused me. Nemesis obviously knew that he would need the cookie, and yet she seemed surprised that he wished for her to open the sphere. It was like she was expeceting a different wish. Like Leo defied his destiny. What if he used the cookie at the wrong time. What if it was supposed to be used at a different time. The Seven meet Nemesis again in The Blood of Olympus. What if she tells them they are screwed because Leo used the cookie at the wrong time. Wouldn't that be fun.

Of. And speaking of consequences; I think the "consequences" for the breaking the cookie are a combination of things rather than a single event. I think that Percy and Annabeth falling into Tartarus, Leo's meeting with Calypso, and who knows what else may all be consequences of the cookie.

 

Now we move on to the last group: Jason, Piper, and Percy.

 

I am going to begin this by talking about one of Piper's quotes found on page 475 (Hardcover edition): "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." This is the all time best quote from Rick Riordan. Because that exactly what heroes need to be. Not invincible (though the Curse of Achilles would be helpful in this situation), just brave enough to do what's needed. It’s the one trait that ties all of the seven together. In the end, they will do what is needed to save the world, even if it costs them everything (though Percy might not sacrifice Annabeth to defeat Gaia (but we don't have to worry about that)).

Now we can go onto the Nyphaoreum (and NO I don't know how to pronounce that). My biggest question here is: what type of water was it that was filling up the well. It obviously wasn't fresh or salt, because Percy would have been fine. My best guess is that it is some type of Polybotes poisoned water. Polybotes mentioned that he would turn water to poison, and this water was pretty much poison. So that's my best bet, but I'm not really sure.

And then we FINALLY, get to the battle with the giants. The giants are Otis and Ephilates, twin giants mean to opposed Dionysius. I think its kind of funny that Dionysius, the least powerful of the Olympians, needs two giants to fight him. That's kind of demeaning to the giants, considering all of the more powerful gods only have a single giant to fight. Regardless of that, the fight scenes between them and Percy/Jason/Piper are pretty awesome. Though it is kind of concerning that the two most powerful demigods of the quest can't even mortally wound two giants by themselves. What are they going to do when all twelve are attacking and Gaia is rising? What are they going to do then?

But lets talk about Bacchus. Would he have really let Jason and Percy die if it would have meant his own destruction? Probably. We all know how selfish the gods can be. If the demigods don't do what they want, the gods don’t do what they want. They care more about their children appeasing them than the possibility and reality of their own destruction and death. I think Bacchus would have let them die in that arena. He doesn’t care for heroes; In fact, if Percy hadn’t sacrificed some soda to him, he wouldn’t have come at all..

Speaking of that arena battle, it shows that the combined powers of Percy and Jason are as formidable as it gets in the demigod world. And because of this I would like to drag some attention to the second line of the Prophecy of Seven: to storm or fire the world must fall. I've always thought that "the world" may actually mean Gaia; in which the line would read to storm or fire Gaia must fall. And Percy and Jason can whip up some pretty powerful storms. What if that line means that Gaia falls due to the actions of a combined Percy and Jason. Leaders of the respective camps. That seems plausible right. And what if it isn't, fire, because Leo ended up dead because of a failed attempt to rescue Calypso. That all seems plausible.

 

And now for our cliff hanger finale: literally. Freaking Annabeth and Percy ended up falling into Tartarus. The worst part of the underworld. Home of monsters. Birth place of Giants. Jail of the titans. The very worst place in the world. The only good things about this are: the doors of death can now be closed. And Percy and Annabeth are TOGETHER in Tartarus. Either of them alone would have been screwed. But together, they may stand a chance. A very small, ever minute chance. But a chance. They are the only group that could survived in the pit. But can they find the doors of death? That a whole different question. They are going to be heavily guarded by who knows what. The very worst monsters in all of mythology will be clamoring to find the Doors and escape into the mortal world. What chance do two demigods have in finding and releasing the Doors of Death in the home of monsters. Next to zero. But this is Heroes of Olympus. It will happen. It will be difficult and painful. But it will happen.

Now I would like to know why exactly Jason or Frank didn't at least TRY a rescue mission. At the very worst, three of them will end up in Tartarus, giving them slightly better odds. And since Jason is one of the most powerful demigods in existence, I thin he could resist the temptations of Tartarus long enough to fly the two of them to safety.

And concerning the Doors of Death, can they be closed? Its going to be hard. The mortal side is in the House of Hades. The underworld side is in Tartarus. And they have to be closed from both sides. Which means one thing. Someone is going to be left behind in Tartarus. It’s the only way that they will be able to close the doors and give the rest of the seven the chance at defeating Gaia and the giants. Now who is it going to be. Percy? Or Annabeth? Or neither? Could it be Nico. Could be someone else. Could there be a friend in Tartarus?

 

Find out in The House of Hades.