Knock-knockin’ on Hades’ door
MANILA, Philippines - What were you doing when you were 17?
Maybe you were preparing to go to college, or dating a boy you had a crush on, or wondering what you were going to do with your life.
Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t traveling on a giant flying airship with 7 other friends and a satyr (half-man, half-goat creature from Greek myth), trying to save the world from the deep-seated anger issues of Mother Earth and her equally monstrous children, the Gigantes, or giants.
The premise of the "Heroes of Olympus" series, Rick Riordan’s second classical mythology-inspired books for young adults, directly follows the adventures of Percy Jackson — from the 5-book series "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" — and his friends as they face a new Big Bad.
In this case, it’s not a monstrous pre-Olympian deity attempting to reclaim the throne of Olympus for his own — it’s actually Gaea, the primordial representation of Mother Earth. She’s not all sunshine and roses and unicorns — she’s angry at the entire world and wants to remake it in her own image, starting with destroying Olympus and their upstart children, the demigods.
Rick Riordan talks to Amazon senior editor Seira Wilson about 'The House of Hades':
In the recently-released 4th novel, "The House of Hades," Riordan doesn’t pull any punches. Much like the 3 previous books, one of the main differences between Heroes of Olympus and the Percy Jackson series is its multiple perspectives. The chapters are each told from the perspective of a specific demigod integral to the quest.
By the time we get to the latest novel, Riordan is juggling 7 different voices, and doing it with remarkable skill. Each voice sounds unique and is layered with each character’s own inflections and perspective of the world they live in.
Much like many young adult series, "The House of Hades" is heavily plot-driven; the cause-and-effect of each scene unfolds cleanly and clearly, so that the reader doesn’t have any difficulty following what could have easily been a complicated series of events.
The writing is fast-paced and efficient, and Riordan paints each scene in broad strokes. He overlaps two disparate storylines as well: at the end of the last book, "The Mark of Athena," the quest is split into two. The "House of Hades" follows through with this split, and alternates between the two halves of the quest, before finally meeting in the last 3rd of the book for an epic showdown.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead]
Despite the fact that this is a fantasy novel aimed at a younger audience, Riordan doesn’t sugar-coat or force an edited version of the world on to his readers. Case in point: one of the characters, Nico di Angelo, a son of Hades and their guide to the Underworld, has been depicted throughout all the books as brooding and angry. He’s the quintessential Goth kid, except that he carried a wickedly sharp blade made of Stygian iron and he can summon the dead.
He also turns out to be gay, as he breaks down and confesses to the Roman god of love, Cupid. The scene is handled masterfully, there was nothing soft or comforting about their confrontation. Love was shown as something violent and frightening, and Nico’s internal conflict unfolded without a hint of irony or disrespect.
Looking back, all of his actions and decisions made sense. What used to be a second-tier character was suddenly placed in the limelight.
Another character who could have been forgotten but played an integral role in the story was Bob, a Titan that Percy Jackson had fought in the Underworld and was subsequently riddled with amnesia after a dip in the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Again, what could have been a throwaway character was brought back into the story and given a pivotal role.
As Bob struggles with remembering his old life (which was full of violence and strife) and his new one (where he embraces his own choices and his lot in life), we are shown a character used to be thought of as evil become somebody who is redeemed by his own choices.
TheBookTuber teaches us how to read a Rick Riordan novel:
I have to admit that, out of all the characters in the book, I shed tears for Bob. For someone I’d just met in this novel, he was the personification of heroism: he took his last stand on the side of the good guys, despite the fact that he could have easily returned to the side of Gaea and fought against Percy and his friends. He gave up the chance to see the sun and the stars again just to help Percy and Annabeth escape Tartarus and rejoin their friends.
I think that is the best lesson that one can take away from reading this book: that even the most terrible person can have a change of heart and make their own choices to do what is right.
We fight and defend our right to be who we are and to be with the people we want to be with, and there are different kinds of heroism. You don’t need to wield magic powers or be skillful with the sword in order to be heroic.
Sometimes, all it takes is doing the right thing at the right time. - Rappler.com
You can also read:
- ‘Project 17’ is one of a kind
- 'Redshirts': It’s all in the uniform
- 'Now, Then, and Elsewhen': A turn for the magical
- Beyond boundaries: Reading children's lit
- Gaiman's latest not just a drop in the bucket
- Best of PH Speculative Fiction: Highly selective
- 3 books, one community, countless stories
Gabriela Lee is a writer, a teacher and an amateur fangirl. She loves reading and writing children’s and young adult fiction, speculative fiction and any story that features a time-travelling madman in a box. Her fiction and poetry have been published in the Philippines, Singapore and the United States. She currently teaches at the University of the Philippines. You can find her online at http://about.me/gabrielalee.