May 19th, 2016


Book Critique 2016 – 02/10/2016: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & The Olympians - IV)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A thoroughly enjoyable book and definite pick for young readers

The Battle of the Labyrinth is the fourth instalment in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan which was published in 2008. In this book the demi-god Percy Jackson (son of mortal woman and Greek god Poseidon) is fifteen-years old and his adventure starts in the high school he joins as a freshman. As always his friends Annabeth Chase (a demi-god - daughter of mortal man and Greek goddess Athena), Grover Underwood - a satyr and Tyson - Percy's half-brother and a Cyclops.

At the school orientation Percy and his friend Rachel Elizabeth Dare who can see through the Mist (an illusion that demi-gods create around them when they are facing battles and monsters or doing things that a human being would not consider normal) are attacked by two Empousai - Greek monsters controlled by Hecate. They fight the Empousai but in the process set fire to the school causing Percy to flee back to Camp Half-Blood.  Things are not as smooth at the Camp either. Annabeth is upset with him that he had befriended a mortal. Grover is in trouble with the Council of Cloven Elders as he is unable to provide proof of Pan - Greek god of wild, shepherds and flocks - that he had felt in the previous instalment, The Titan's Curse. Annabeth is also working on a secret project with Clarisse. New sword instructor is added to the Camp called Quintus - who no one knows where he was from or what he is.

Troubles seem to not end yet for Percy. During a competition at the Camp, Annabeth and Percy discover the entrance to The Labyrinth - An elaborate structure from Greek Mythology that was supposed to be designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Annabeth and Clarisse mention to the Camp Council of War that they suspect that Luke (a demi-god and son of mortal woman and Greek god Hermes) will use that entrance to attack the Camp and will use Princess Ariadne's magical string that was assumed to be in possession of the inventor Daedalus (who built the Labyrinth in the first place).  Shortly after the Prophecy is spoken by The Oracle and given to Annabeth. Here how the Prophecy goes:

You shall delve in the darkness of the endless maze,
The dead, the traitor, and the lost one raise.
You shall rise or fall by the ghost king's hand,
The Child of Athena's final stand.
Destroy with a hero's final breath,
And lose a love to worse than death

Thus begins the journey again for the young heroic demi-gods. Despite the warning Chiron gives that three is the traditional number for a quest, Annabeth insists on making it a four-member team by including Tyson, Percy and Grover with her.  The same night Percy also receives a message from Nico (a demi-god and son of mortal woman and Greek god Hades) that he will bring back his sister by exchanging her soul with one who cheated death. The following morning the four demi-gods descend into the Labyrinth per the prophecy to face Luke and any other hurdles or monsters in store for them.

Rick has very intricately wove this plot as before connecting all the strings at the right place. Never once I got lost in the book just like the questers who couldn’t or rather refused to lose in the Labyrinth. The questers come across Hera - wife of one of the three sisters of Greek god Zeus, monster Kampe - a fearsome she-dragon - and her captive Briares - one of Tyson's personal heroes, escape the telkhine from the forge of Hephestus, Calypso - daughter of Titan Atlas who is cursed The Fates to fall-in love with the heroes that crash land in her island, face another Greek god Antaeus - son of Poseidon and Gaia and other Greek gods and monsters. All along the search for Pan continues in parallel. Rachel Date joins their  quest too aiding them.

Who would be the traitor per the prophecy? What about the Ghost Kind? Annabeth fears that she would lose Percy to death per Prophecy's last line. Whom do they lose? Does Percy face Nico to defend his soul from being traded for Nico's sister's soul? Will Grover find Pan? Who is Pam in reality? Will they endure the battle at the Camp with the flood of monsters coming thru the Labyrinth and defeat them?

Tale so well spun where the demi-gods are stuck between the Titans and Greek gods war, one wants to rush to the next and final instalment to see the fates of all the demi-gods and the gods. But, don’t rush yourself. Go through the adventure, be with Percy and his questers, one step at a time and I promise you it will just be much more  sweeter in the end.

Book Critique 2016 – 02/11/2016: The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & The Olympians - Book V)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A thoroughly enjoyable book and definite pick for young readers

The fifth and final instalment in the series Percy Jackson & The Olympians is titled The Last Olympian published in 2009. Rick Riordan concludes the adventures of sixteen year old demi-go Percy Jackson (son of mortal woman and Greek god Poseidon) with this book in which he leads his friends to defend Mount Olympus. This book also reveals the Great Prophecy that everyone feared would come true and cause a war between the three gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades (also known as The Big Three).

And here is the Great Prophecy:

A Half-Blood of the eldest gods,
Shall reach sixteen against all odds,
And see the world in endless sleep.
The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap,
A single choice shall end his days,
Olympus to preserve or raze

Very obvious with the prophecy that the Mount Olympus is the primary stage here and no question there about who the half-blood of the eldest gods would be. It's Percy and no other. However one wonders who is the hero whose soul is reaped.  Well to know that we need to go to the beginning of the plot in this book. It opens with Charles Beckendorf (a demi-god and son of mortal woman and Greek god Hephaestus, a master smith) informing Percy and Rachel Dare to enact their surprise attack on The Princess Andromeda. While Poseidon's underwater palace is under siege by the Titan Oceanus. The half-bloods also come to know that they have a spy in the camp who was giving the information to Luke - whose body is now the host to Kronos, the youngest of the Titans. In all the midst of this Percy is confused with his feelings towards Annabeth. And Ares and Apollo cabins half-bloods are at war with each other.

With so much going on around him, unable to take the emotional hit, Percy decides to leave the Camp with Nico (a demi-god and son of mortal woman and Greek god Hades) to understand how to defeat Kronos / Luke. Nico had revealed at the end of The Battle of Labyrinth that he knows how to kill Kronos / Luke forever. In the journey he bathes through the River Styx to come out invincible except for one spot even though Nico tries to betray him for a little while. Percy comes out of the Underworld in New York City and sends Nico back to convince his father Hades to fight against Kronos. Will Nico be successful? Time only will tell.

In New York City, Percy calls all his campers (Ares cabin half-bloods don’t join initially due to their war with Apollo cabin half-bloods but eventually join forces) to prepare for the battle. But the gods refuse to help them defend Olympus much to the shock of the half-bloods. Now all falls on their shoulders to not only save Mount Olympus but also defeat Kronos / Luke and save the earth from a much much bigger war. What follows is a strategy that Percy sometimes tries to make it up on the fly and other times with aid of his friends moves forward in the battle closing in on Kronos / Luke.  Follow this final adventure through the steps and eyes of these brave half-bloods. Know what key role Rachel Dare would play in here, whats the relationship between Luke and Annabeth, how they save the humans from the battle, who all ally with Percy Jackson in the fight, watch their stand-down with the Titans Prometheus and Hyperion, and despite the losses at their end how they endure the battle. In parallel to this fight the gods on Mount Olympus are having their own battle with the ancient and terrible monster Typhon.  Everyone in the end learns that all this battle could have been avoided if the gods had simply claimed their half-bloods and given them as well as the minor gods the respect they needed.

Rick has brought everything to life with this tale and the previous books. Some moments and situations it was definitely difficult to imagine while reading yet they were so capturing that once cannot put down the book for want of imagination. A successful series completed with this book and concluding the journey of Percy Jackson.

Or so we thought until Rachel who becomes the new Oracle reveals the next Prophecy:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call.
To storm or fire, the world must fall.
An oath to keep with the final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

And Rick continues the journey of Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase with the book The Lost Hero in the Heroes of Olympus series. Now we just have to read the series to know who the seven half-bloods would be and what entails them in this journey.