Monday 16 February 2015

Book Review - Mark of Athena

The Mark of Athena
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #3
Genres: Mythology, Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd October 2012
Publishers: Puffin
No. Pages: 574
Source: Borrowed
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..

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

What I love most about Riordan's work is that, no matter what the novel is about, no matter who the characters are and no matter what direction he will take the story in, he doesn't fanny about. Mark of Athena jumped straight into where Son of Neptune left off and his constant ability to fling me back into the action, into the comfort characters arms that I love and into the world that I absolutely adore is just out of this world, but much like Son of Neptune, I had a few little issues that held this book back.

One of those issues was Annabeth. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Annabeth - she was a fantastic secondary character in the Olympians and the fact that Riordan has brought her further into the limelight with her own perspective, feelings and thoughts is fantastic, but just how he did it, I'm not that fond of. Annabeth is one of the strongest, most independent characters Riordan's written about, she's strong and has bravery and courage in abundance, she believes she is the best at what she does and being the daughter of Athena, it only strengthens her character, but, while I understand that being seperated from your boyfriend for over half a year might knock you a little, and you may appreciate him just a tad more, concentrating on that instead of, oh, I don't know, the possibility of dying in any number of ways is a little concerning.. Yes, Annabeths development in this area was nice and seeing her and Percy interact in a way I'd begged for through the Olympians was really quite wonderful, their joking and banter and their sweet, romantic moments, but to produce that at the risk of making Annabeth seem less, Annabeth like, may not have been wise. I also, much to some other fans disappointment, was unimpressed with Percy's perspective too. His development and growth into a new charcater is a nice edition to the series, seeing how much he changed from the previous series, but the fact that I've already seen and know so much about him and his background and in comparison to other characters such as Frank, Hazel and Jason, I don't personally appreciate the amount of limelight he received in this novel. Seeing how his and Annabeth's relationship had developed, watching them interact and almost cement their feelings for one another was a lovely edition, I cannot deny that, but from an enjoyment perspective, Percy, for me, has lost some of his appeal..

Yet where Percy has been failing to impressed me, other characters have stepped up to the plate and won me over completely, whether it be from their interaction with one another, like Percy and Jason, or their strange feelings against one another like Frank and Leo, their interaction as a group in this novel was just brilliant, and definitely worth waiting for. Seeing Piper's slow development is nice and watching how she is very much a daughter of Aphrodite, yet insists on being her own person, even showcasing some of her self-doubt and lack of confidence around other characters like Annabeth, or in her relationship with Jason, it really highlights how real her character feels, yet if she moped just a tiny bit less, she'd be up there with other characters like Leo, Frank and Hazel. The lack of perspective from Frank and Hazel, I admit, was disappointing, but seeing more of them through Leo's perspective, and creating the attachment between Leo and Hazel that Riordan did was just fantastic. Frank most definitely feels like an easily relatable guy; he's tough-looking and butch but really is quite unsure of himself and puts a lot of faith in the other characters, while Hazel's development is really quite wonderful, watching her come out of her shell, use her skills and powers, use her new found friendships and her romantic attachment to Frank as her anchor to the world, it's really nice to read about, but it's Leo that has my heart, as is the case with many other fans. His development, his emotions, his piece and part to play in this series is so, gut wrenching and heartbreaking as well as wonderful it's, so easy to understand and relate to him, he's the only character without a romantic interest, he's the only character that people look to and fear and his very much the underdog, the under-appreciated and he uses his humour and quick thinking to hide behind his pain. His definitely, without a doubt, the hidden hero of this series, as was proven beyond belief in Mark of Athena.

Where the characters didn't win me over, the storyline and pacing did. There was a constant steady speed throughout with the right balance of calm and action packed scenes. There was, as is always the case, plenty of mythology involved, new characters form history introduced and other, smaller characters easily missed and forgotten were given a chance to shine and I think that's wonderful. The touch of creating split personalities within the gods, their struggle to support their children is saddening, but the actual interaction between demi-gods and gods in this installment and this series is really quite wonderful. The world building and scenes creating is always superb and it's no different in Mark of Athena, from the meeting with Echo and Hercules, to the battle against twin giants and finding the Athena Parthenos, Riordan writes this world so cleanly and so vividly, it's hard not to imagine being in that world with those characters. Even his twists and turns in this novel were fantastic, but what always continues to impress is the inclusion of prophecies which I've never really delved into. Just, the talent in creating a riddle so in depth that takes you the entire read to figure, to create something that follows you throughout the novel and haunts you at every corner, makes you question almost everything, it's just brilliant and I think it's these wonderful little details and touches that Riordan includes in these novels that make them fantastic.

The little touches, the small details, the humour and the characters, the world and the scenes, the speed and the moments that create shivers and goosebumps, Riordan has it all, and Mark of Athena was definitely a worthy installment of Heroes of Olympus. It may not have been as good as The Lost Hero and it may not have won me over as much with the characters, but if an author can still break my heart with an ending I already knew about, then points to him, all of the points, because I know of very few that can accomplish such a task. Heroes of Olympus, much like The Kane Chronicles, is consistent, highly enjoyable fantasy mad and I cannot wait to see where Riordan takes these characters and this story.

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