Title: The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Published By: Hyperion
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.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare...
There's no doubt about it - I consider The Mark of Athena to be the best so far in the Heroes of Olympus series. As a matter of fact, I would even go as far as to say that this novel is my favorite amongst all of Rick Riordan's repertoire! Like all of the said author's previous books, The Mark of Athena is full of heart-stopping action, jaw-dropping revelations, allusions to famous mythological famous figures, and of course, both intense and lighthearted scenes featuring our favorite demigods. Unlike the previous books in the Heroes of Olympus series, however, The Mark of Athena focused a lot on character growth and development, and that's something that I really enjoyed.
In Riordan's novels, the demigods have always been portrayed as beings who can seemingly do no wrong and are able to triumph against absolutely anything. In this particular novel, however, we get to see them in scenes wherein they are doubting themselves, as well as their capabilities, left and right. Percy and Jason, particularly, had to deal with the realization that they are not as invincible as they consider themselves to be. An enormous task ahead of her, Annabeth also has to deal with feelings of abandonment that stems from her last interaction with her mother, Athena. Frank has to learn to keep his jealousy concerning Hazel and Leo in check; while Piper must shake off the uselessness she so often feels. Leo, meanwhile, must struggle with the guilt of inadvertently starting the war between the two camps, and ultimately the loneliness of being the 'seventh-wheel'. In short, I can't help but feel the readers finally get a glimpse of these heroes' humanity. Furthermore, while reading this installment, I can honestly see the heroes for who they are - not heroes, not demigods, but simply teenagers who are entrusted with an impossible task.
We are also privy to the development of the relationships between the seven heroes. We get to witness friendships both blossom and strengthen; and of course, we also get to see romantic relationships go through both rough and good times. In this novel, the maturity of both Annabeth and Percy is evident - we learn of Percy's wishes for the future of their relationship; and we also learn just how much they both depend on each other. Jason and Percy also learn to accept the fact that they must work together in order to succeed. Furthermore, despite initially being from different camps, the seven learn to let go of their trepidation concerning each other, and start gaining mutual respect for one another.
The mythology aspect of The Mark of Athena was unbelievably spot on as well. The mythological figures were highly entertaining to read about - we get to picture them completely modernized, and well after the events that made them famous in the first place. Furthermore, Riordan's knack for humor cannot be denied. I couldn't help myself from sputtering in laughter over some of the dialogue between the demigods and the creatures they face - Riordan's imagination is unparalleled, simply put.
All in all, The Mark of Athena is a novel that you don't want to miss out on. The world Riordan has created is magnificent, and I have no qualms whatsoever that anyone - young or old - can enjoy this particular series. I might as well warn you though - the cliffhanger of this novel is pretty much heartbreaking, so make sure to look out for that.
Rating: 5 Stars