Friday, March 10, 2017

Review - The Blood of Olympus

Original Title: The Blood of Olympus
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #5
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 7th, 2014

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I have absolutely no idea why, every time I grab a fantasy series, this is what happens (with rare exceptions, of course). The first couple of books are excellent -or very good- and the final one ends up being… rather disappointing. Don’t get me wrong. I liked this book, and every character on it. But there were a lot of off-putting things, that, in my opinion, shouldn’t appear when the book must wrap up the story that has been built in four whole books. Let me explain myself.

In The Blood of Olympus, once again we join the Seven heroes in their quest to stop Gaia, but this time, we get to perspective and POV from two different characters, who had their own chapters for the first time in the whole saga: Nico di Angelo, and Reyna Ramírez-Arellano, daughter of the Roman war goddess, Bellona. Together, they journeyed back to the States to return the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood, and heal the rift between Greeks and Romans, which has also been affecting the gods and messing with their personalities, making their two versions violently war against each other. Reading about Reyna was probably one of the best parts in this book, I ended up loving her, and admiring her courage. She’s truly worthy of the “heroine” title, and she proved to be a born leader, something that Octavian’s stupid orders couldn’t just change overnight. Her point of view, and her story, were amazing, and I loved how she and Nico grew on each other, almost like brother and sister. After all, war and death are not so different. As for Nico, he really surprised me in this book. He proved to be more powerful than he thought, and learned to be a little more open to other people, understanding that not everyone is going to hurt him, or intends to do so. He was already some sort of a shadow before getting so intensely into shadow travel, barely appearing at camp, and refusing to see that in despite of everything, he could have friends and be accepted; that being the Lord of the Death’s son doesn’t mean that you are -or have to be- dead inside.

Speaking of death, I really didn’t see how “an oath to keep with a final breath” could come true, but Leo, the crafter of the impossible, always finds a way. He being dead, but not dead, thanks to the physician’s cure, could have been so much better if at least we could have had a reunion scene with his friends, that were back at Camp, grieving his passing. On the bright side, I like that Riordan chose to redeem Calypso and set her free from her curse. But I hate when the things I most want to read about end up being left for the very last page, and end before I can truly savor them. I mean, Calypso’s unfair punishment lasted millennia, her heart breaking over and over again by unrequited love, but her redemption and happiness lasted only one page? I don’t doubt she loved Leo, but come on! I was really eager to see how that story played out, but it fell short. On the other hand, I didn’t quite get where Nemesis’ threat lead in the end. Was his death the price she required, after helping him? Or his broken heart in the previous book? And also, we never get to know what Asclepius saw wrong with him. Heartbreak? Lovesickness? We can only guess.

The battle scenes were somewhat disappointing. The gods -the rift finally rectified- appeared at last, making me say “finally they show their faces to clean some of this mess!”. The heroes did a lot more than them through the entire quest, with half of their power, but it was good, however, to see them fighting side by side with their children. As for the battle with Gaia, oh, my goodness! So much expectation, sacrifices, fear and training for it to last only ten minutes or so! As soon as Gaia wakes up, she goes back to sleep! I would have preferred her waking up by the middle of the book, so we could have seen the heroes in action to defeat her, because, although the prophecy mentioned seven heroes, in the end, only three of them were responsible for winning the battle. And there’s something I can’t help wondering: if Piper’s charmspeak was so powerful as to induce such a terrible and elemental goddess into slumber for another eon, then, why did the gods need Piper at all? She has only half of Aphrodite’s power, then, why couldn’t just Aphrodite herself charmspeak Gaia into sleep again, being ten times more powerful? It doesn’t make much sense, at least for me.

Piper is a really good character, even when she isn’t exactly my favorite. Her friendship with Annabeth is great, as she teaches her to let go of so many thoughts and learn that logic not always explains everything. After so many years of being a Greek mythology freak, only now something clicked in my head, after reading Piper’s scene in Ares’ shrine, and I said, “of course, that’s it!”. According to the myths, Aphrodite and Hephaestus’ marriage never worked, and I really never stopped to consider why, but I finally see it. They are complete opposites; emotions (especially one as strong and overwhelming as love) can’t be paired with pure, mechanical logic. The only thing they have in common is fire, but Aphrodite’s is all consuming and uncontrollable, while Hephaestus’ is rather related to a tool, used to bring to life the power of the mind. In other words, to obey logic, something that, when it comes to love, is the same as useless.

As for the other heroes, Jason was also never a favorite of mine, but I loved how much he cared for Piper, and their romantic moment in Zeus cabin’s roof, recreating that memory that never really was. I liked Jason’s low profile, because he doesn’t go around boasting about his lineage. The fact of being Jupiter’s child gave him lots of things he didn’t seek for and gained him angry enemies that shouldn’t have been, like Octavian, but he stayed true to himself. He’s overall a very good character. I just wish we could have seen one or two moments with his sister Thalia before the end of the book, after so many years apart, but she was away with the Hunters, and didn’t come for the final battle.

I missed we didn’t get to read so much about Annabeth and Percy, who are definitely my favorite heroes. I was hoping so, especially after everything they went through in Tartarus, that only brought them closer. Here, we only get to see them through someone else’s eyes. On the other hand, giving Reyna the chance to tell her story, nor Frank or Hazel got their own chapters. I hated that, because Frank and Hazel had grown so much in The House of Hades, that they deserved a final word in the whole quest. But here, their roles are pushed to the backburner, even when Frank was raised to praetor and Hazel handled magic so well, she could have been a child of Hecate herself. Oh, and by the way, what happened with Hazel’s curse washed away by a son of Neptune? Nobody mentioned that again.

This last point was due to my own curiosity. I wish we could have met the children of the minor gods, because I was really interested in their powers. I mean, Percy gave up immortality itself to give them some credit, and help them find their own identity, right? But that didn’t seem to affect the story at all. It’s not that I’m not happy with our Seven heroes, because I truly love them all, but after the whole fuss around them, I would have liked if one of them had been a child of one of the so frequently forgotten minor gods, proving, therefore, that they are worthy of being called heroes, and reaffirming their own right to be claimed and properly recognized for their true value, even when they are not exactly children of one of the Twelve. The heroes in this saga are all children of the “big ones”. And I was left with questions about those “minor” demigods, even when the story doesn’t move around them. I mean, what powers could have a child of Hebe? What can Iris’ children do? Or Nemesis’? But that’s just my own curiosity. Luckily, we got to know a little more about the Hypnos, Nike and Hecate cabins. Perhaps there’s more about them in the Trials of Apollo, which gives me a new excuse to read them next.

The Blood of Olympus wasn’t the best book in this saga (my favorite was The Mark of Athena, along with The House of Hades), but it wasn’t a complete disaster. It just had those moments I mentioned, that raised many questions. I will definitely read more by Rick Riordan, and I’m glad I could get to know his amazing stories and utterly lovable characters! Definitely, one of the best authors I’ve ever read!

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