The final book in The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan has a lot to live up to. Four books of anticipation and hype towards Gaia’s resurrection, the conflict of the Gods, and the Greek and Roman demigod war, The Blood of Olympus has a difficult task of living up to the expectations set by it’s predecessors. While it is a fun, endearing and exciting adventure, one flaw stops it from reach the full potential this series could have had.
As to be expected, the characters arcs throughout the series are brought to a close in a somewhat satisfying way. While the trend of part of the Argos II crew having more of the spotlight continues, a lot of the focus of this book is spent on Nico and Reyna. I love both of these characters and their struggles throughout the series. I was especially happy to see Nico get some development and closure for his struggles. He’s been around since the original Percy Jackson series and was always a dark, tragic and mysterious character who I always wondered if he’d have a conclusion to his arc. Reyna was always an interesting character from her introduction through to the very end. The struggles of doing the right thing, following the duty of a leader for her people, and her own personal traumatic past made for an endearing character arc.
The crew of the Argos II face increasingly hopeless odds and it’s great to see the pressure and tension actually affect them and their choices. As mentioned earlier, part of the crew gets more focus than the others though it doesn’t feel as memorable as it should have. The focus is on Jason, Piper and Leo this time around while the others (who had the spotlight in The House of Hades) serve more as a supporting cast. While Percy and Annabeth had a really introspective journey through Tartarus in the previous book, the others don’t feel as though they got the same treatment. Jason, Piper and Leo don’t feel quite as developed despite the story setting up a potentially strong character arc for each of them. I was especially disappointed with Jason’s arc regarding his own identity. The fact that in the same book we can compare his story to that of Nico’s makes it rough. Despite that, it’s still a fun and enjoyable ride with well developed characters. However, one crucial issue makes the development and success of the characters feel less impressive than they should.
The overarching plot of the series comes to a close with The Blood of Olympus and it should feel as cataclysmic as the previous books make it sound like it is. The core problem that detracts from the great character development and interesting plot lines is that the antagonists come off as rather incompetent. From the suitors at the beginning to the finale, the majority of the antagonists are silly and barely feel like a threat despite the fact that we know they’re dangerous and trying to kill the heroes. The dialogue from the antagonists feels something akin to cheesy Saturday morning cartoon villains rather than menacing ancient creatures. It makes the development of the protagonists feel less impressive when their opponents are not as threatening as they should be.
Aside from the rather silly feeling antagonists, the plot is actually quite engaging. New problems keep arising just as the heroes feel like their making progress and the tension is almost palpable. With Nico, Reyna and Coach Hedge racing to save the Greeks and Romans to the crew of the Argos II facing off against a threat older than the pantheon, the sense of dread hangs throughout the story. It makes everything feel tense and ominous most of the time until the monstrous antagonists start talking.
Following up The House of Hades in terms of world building and exploration is a tough challenge. Going to Tartarus, the Greek version of hell, is a truly harrowing experience that we saw through the eyes of Percy and Annabeth. After witnessing that, The Blood of Olympus felt rather tame which is odd considering it’s the finale of the series. There wasn’t any noticeable inclusion of new Greek or Roman mythological references which felt like a missed opportunity. Unfortunately nothing really comes close to the visceral experience that was Tartarus and it leaves the book feeling a bit bland in comparison.
While the story revolving around the crew of the Argos II feels more like the same that we’ve seen in previous novels (exceptions being the Tartarus journey), Nico and Reyna’s stories feel like a completely new experience. The two of them go through what feels like a deeply emotional roller coaster as Nico develops more in this novel than any other and Reyna is portrayed in a way that makes her my favorite character in the entire series. Similar to The House of Hades, Nico and Reyna’s adventure feels far more compelling as the story goes on than that of the main crew of the Argos II which feels really strange for the final novel in this series. That being said, I found the chapters easy to read through and engaging enough that it kept my attention and excitement to see how the story progresses. There’s a good amount of foreshadowing that keeps the mystery alive and well.
What Writers can Learn from this Book
While I love the characters and the character development in The Heroes of Olympus series, it’s hard to ignore the glaring problem each book had in this series compared to the Percy Jackson series. The antagonists feel less threatening than I would expect for the seriousness of the overarching plot. The Percy Jackson series had a better reason for it’s antagonists as that series is more humorous and somewhat childish in the beginning but slowly matures to a darker and more serious tone. The Heroes of Olympus series starts off with a darker tone matching the end of Percy Jackson series and feels like a modern YA novel. That is until one of the many silly antagonists appear. They aren’t entirely silly, but they don’t feel as threatening or as menacing as I would expect and old ancient entity to be. Most of the giants come of as stupid and easily duped which makes them unimpressive. The major problem with this is that it makes the protagonists not as compelling as they otherwise would be. We see how they grow into stronger, smarter and overall better versions of themselves but it doesn’t feel like they get a good opportunity to show that off. It just seems strange that our protagonists, who are all teenagers, feel wiser and smarter than a lot of the ancient entities throughout the series.