The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena

The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena
The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena
By Rick Riordan
Read: November 2012

(Be warned. There might be some spoilers here soif you haven’t read The Mark of Athena yetconsider yourself warned.)

Girl Power!

Well it’s not like girls haven’t been given enough page time. Since the first Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel, demigoddesses have been a huge presence as well as goddesses and villainesses. As allies and enemies, they are a force to be reckoned with. And with Mark of Athena, they are in the forefront.

If there was any goddess in Riordan’s series that has captured my curiosity, it has to be Athena. Since The Lightning Thief, I have always been astounded as to how she could have children when I knew that she was a maiden goddess, just like Artemis and Hestia. Thus Annabeth and the whole of Cabin Six have been the recipients of my suspended disbelief. For the record though, I like Annabeth and her other siblings as well. I just cannot get over the fact of my first education (Thank you Edith Hamilton!).

Come The Lost Hero, Riordan presented the idea of the duality of the deities. While it seemed simple and even natural for them to have that, Mark of Athena shows that having two aspects can be quite troublesome. And not just for the gods alone but for those around them. He actually depicts them as having schizophrenia. If that wasn’t bad enough, they sometimes don’t know who they are. It’s not exactly amnesia but kind of close enough.

When you don’t know who you are, you look for clues about your identity. Sometimes it’s on your person. Other times, it’s just around you. And there are times when someone else has the answer to your questions. There are deities who revel in the madness, who are nonchalant about which one they are, and who crumble with the change. If you’ve read Mark of Athena, you’ll see a number of them. Quite a reminder of how human the gods can be.

The Wonders Never Cease

Personally I have kept note of some stuff that have arrested my attention. They’re listed by chronological appearance in the book.

First off, I never thought much about Katoptris, Piper’s ancient dagger. It really wasn’t much of a special weapon in The Lost Hero. It was nice to note that it had a name, like Percy’s Riptide, Jason’s Ivlivs, and Luke Castellan’s Backbiter. But for a brief moment, when that dagger suddenly became interesting as an object that had strange power, it had me thinking why it wasn’t able to do so in the first time around? Was it because Piper still didn’t know how to use that feature? Or because the dagger had yet to recognize her as its current owner? Did Annabeth or the other Athena kids know that it could do that?

The three steeds have appeared, at least for the first third of the book. And it’s fun to note that they have their own personalities. Tempest and Jason are like each other’s foil; one being stormy and the other calm. Blackjack and Percy are complimentary, both being loyal and always on the lookout for food. Arion and Hazel love being out in the great open but having different attitudes towards precious metals.

Of all the possible exorcists, I never thought of Piper. Nico was more like, since he is the son of Hades and a very far second is Hazel. But each of them encounters an unexpected moment to shine and that was hers. To be fair, she was quite convincing. Wonder if she could do that with a demon?

Aphrodite or Venus, she is fun during conversations! That is until you find yourself being grilled by her questions. Or you’re her child witnessing your friends being put into an awkward situation. Girl or boy, you could easily relate with this scenario: your mother meets your friends and she begins asking questions or telling stories that would embarrass you to no end. It’s like you’d rather the earth swallow you whole now. (On second thought, maybe not—since that’s Gaea waiting down there.) And since I love etymology, wonder if her term nouveau dieu (found on page 236) would enter the vocabulary of the pantheon and the demigods.

Everyone hates clowns,” Otis said. “Even other clowns hate clowns.

Too bad Otis and his brother had to be vanquished. They were fun. And that one line from Otis speaks of a very great truth.

Sacrifice

If the Doors of Death needed to be sealed from both sides, how could they do that unless someone stayed in the Underworld, trapped?

Hazel. But I am not sure of anything. Who knows? Someone else—someone new—might come along in the next book and be the one who would seal the door from other side. But someone new being the sacrifice might not have the dramatic effect that we’re looking for, would it?

Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t think too much about these questions or their possible answers. As Leo would put it, “It interferes with being nuts.”

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