Today I finally had the absolute pleasure of reading the final installment of the Heroes Of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, The Blood Of Olympus.
Nico, Reyna, and Coach Hedge have set off to return the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood to attempt and heal the rift between the Greeks and Romans. Jason, Piper, and Annabeth are invading Odysseus’s palace in Ithaca to gain information on what they should do next, equipped with magical disguises created of Mist by Hazel. They are quickly exposed, though, and find themselves in the middle of a fight. Jason confronts his dead mother, Beryl Grace, and realizes that by the time she died, she had ceased to be human and become a mania, or spirit of insanity; he disowns her. He then gets stabbed by another wayward spirit, a former Praetor of New Rome who is the son of Janus, Michael Varus. It was he who led the failed military expedition to Alaska described in The Son of Neptune in which the legion’s eagle was lost and the Fifth Cohort was disgraced. Jason is badly wounded, but Piper and Annabeth are able to get information about monsters and which route they should take to Athens. Jason, Piper, and Annabeth call on Juno/Hera to give them advice and she appears to them. She tells them to seek out the victory goddess, Nike, in Olympia, and also that they should get help from Artemis and Apollo. They only have one option: they have to sail or fly to Olympia.
Nico shadow-travels Reyna and Coach Hedge to the sky right above Mount Vesuvius and is too tired to travel any farther, but with the help of Reyna’s strength he takes Reyna and Coach Gleeson Hedge to Pompeii. Thinking that they are safe, Nico goes to sleep. That night, ghosts attack the three and Gaea takes over Coach Hedge’s body. She attempts to kill Reyna and Nico, but Nico summons an army of the dead to fight the ghosts and incapacitate Hedge. Before the ghosts can fight back, Nico shadow-travels them to safety.
In a coma, Reyna discovers that Octavian has captured, tortured and executed the Cecropes that Leo sent against the legion in Bologna,and also taken advantage of her absence by virtually seizing control of the legion, moving it closer to Camp Half-Blood in violation of her orders, and bringing back and personally sponsoring more than twenty former legionaries who were dismissed from the legion for violations of the legion’s rules. Among them is Bryce Lawrence, a psychopathic legacy descended from Orcus who was dismissed, tried before the Senate on Reyna’s orders, and exiled from New Rome after a water cannon malfunction during the weekly war games killed Bryce’s centurion. Reyna, who already knew Bryce as untrainable and an animal torturer, had had enough circumstantial evidence that he had murdered the centurion by sabotaging the cannon to get him convicted and exiled, but not executed. These moves are not popular with the legion, not even with Octavian’s strongest supporter, his fellow First Cohort centurion Michael Kahale. Octavian believes that he can heal the gods’ mental division through the genocide of all Greek demigods. Strangely, his auguries no longer yield results, something which he wishes to keep secret from the rest of the legion.
Nico makes contact with Clovis, head counselor of the Hypnos cabin, through a dream, and passes along the message that he, Reyna and Coach Hedge are on their way back to Camp Half-Blood with the Athena Parthenos and asks Clovis to notify Thalia Grace for him. Clovis, in turn, shows him the latest head counselors’ meeting, in which Will Solace, Travis Stoll and Malcolm, the acting head counselor for the Athena cabin, among others, attempt to dissuade Clarisse LaRue from leading an immediate attack on the Romans; the collective decision is to stick to Annabeth’s plan of recruiting Reyna. In the flashback Clovis shows Nico, it is also revealed that Rachel Dare’s gift of prophecy no longer works and that, in fact, no one in the Apollo cabin can now foresee the future, either.
Leo, who is trying to relocate the island of Ogygia so that he can be with his love Calypso, as he swore on the Styx to do in The House of Hades is secretly rebuilding Festus inside the bulkheads of the Argo II and attempting to program Odysseus’ navigation device that he picked up from the Cecropes in Bologna in The House of Hades to relocate Ogygia by fitting a crystal from Calypso’s cave into it; eventually, he succeeds. In the mean time, the seven demigods are headed to Olympia to capture Nike. Only Frank, Hazel, Percy, and Leo leave the ship to get to Nike. At first she doesn’t appear, but after Leo supports the Adidas brand of footwear, she shows up and tries to kill the young demigods. Hazel uses magic to control the Mist and confuses Nike. They are able to capture her but Nike tries cursing the demigods. However, Frank manages to gag Nike with duct tape before she manages to finish the curse. They then take her back to the ship.
Nico, Reyna, and Hedge find out that they are being hunted by Orion, the giant son of Gaea (who was born to oppose the twins Artemis and Apollo) and has turned bad after a giant scorpion kills him after being driven mad by a jealous Apollo. In San Juan, Reyna gets abducted by the Amazons and hunters of Artemis and talks to her sister Hylla, queen of the Amazons, who has gotten together with Thalia Grace to lay a trap for Orion. The sisters receive news that Orion has killed all the girls outside the base and is coming in. A battle ensues, in which some of the Hunters and Amazons are killed. To be safe, Hylla takes Reyna to their father’s old house that brings back bad memories for Reyna. Orion catches them outside the building and Hylla tells him that he will fall once again at the hands of a woman. She uses her strength given to her by her mother, the goddess Bellona on him to give Reyna time to get away with Nico and Coach Hedge. As they leave, Reyna sees the ghosts of her ancestors, including the famous Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi and Captain Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano, a distinguished naval officer who was the first Hispanic to command a US Navy submarine, crowding the balcony of her father’s old house, glaring at her and calling her a traitor and murderer.
They end up in Buford, South Carolina, a small town south of Charlotte which is the site of the Battle of Waxhaws, an American Revolution battle in which the British commander, Banastre Tarleton, also a child of Bellona, gained infamy by massacring American prisoners of war to whom he had promised quarter. Nico has managed to open up somewhat, and shares the story of a rather clumsy attempt at Hades at bonding with him, by assigning him a zombie, Jules-Albert, to drive him around; it is made clear, though not stated explicitly, elsewhere in the story that Jules-Albert is the distinguished French auto-racing pioneer Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, who died in 1946, and that this is a chance for him to continue pursuing his passion of driving. Having loosened up, Reyna explains about the ghosts, and why she and Hylla left San Juan and why she now wants to avoid it. Her father, Julian Ramirez-Arellano, a distinguished veteran left with PTSD as a result of his Iraq War experiences, suffered a fate similar to Jason and Thalia’s mother Beryl Grace: becoming infatuated with Bellona and wishing to claim her for himself, as Beryl Grace had become infatuated with Zeus, he deteriorated mentally, eventually turning into a mania, and becoming violent and abusive to where Hylla and Reyna were frequently forced to flee the house. Eventually, when Reyna was ten, she was forced to defend Hylla from their father by stabbing him with Roberto Cofresi’s saber, which she realized was Imperial gold when it killed Julian.
Bryce Lawrence, who was sent on a secret mission to find Reyna by Octavian, who intends to overthrow her altogether, and has overheard Reyna tell her story, then reveals himself, summoning a horde of undead British soldiers who had participated in the massacre of American POWs to pin down Reyna and Coach Hedge and telling her that he will force her to confess and get her executed for the crime of patricide. Bryce believes that Nico is too weak to defend them, but Reyna uses the power of Bellona to strengthen Nico enough to where he destroys the undead soldiers and kills Bryce, turning him into a ghost and sending him directly to the underworld. Nico then collapses, spending three days in a coma and almost insubstantial. When he emerges from the coma, he finds that Coach Hedge has managed to summon pegasi, including Pegasus, the king of the flying horses, to take them and the statue the rest of the way to Camp Half-Blood.
Meanwhile, the seven demigods aboard the Argo II make a stop at Pylos, and Frank makes contact with his fellow descendants of Periclymenus, who was a prince of Pylos. Many of them still live in the town, and although they give him a somewhat cool reception, which he ascribes to anti-Chinese racism and his status as a Roman demigod, they nonetheless give him a gift of Pylosian mint upon his departure.
En route to their next stop, Mykonos in the Aegean, they encounter a violent storm, which, it turns out, is being generated by Kymopoleia, the Greek goddess of violent storms at sea, who has been tempted by an offer of power from Gaea. Percy and Jason descend to the sea floor to meet her at the ruins of Poseidon’s original palace, where Percy is caught in a net by Polybotes, who attempts to kill him with poison. Jason points out to Kymopoleia that with no human beings left, no one will be around to fear her power, and tells her that he and Percy intend to make sure she is fully honored; she then turns on Polybotes, killing him and freeing Percy from the net. Back at the ship, Jason and Percy resolve to make good on this promise; Jason decides to seek the Roman office of Pontifex Maximus, or high priest of all the gods, in order to continue and expand upon Percy’s work of making sure all the gods are honored so that more wars between the gods may be averted.
They then proceed to Mykonos, where Leo, Hazel and Frank travel to the sacred island of Delos nearby to meet with Apollo and Artemis, who have taken refuge from the internal conflict that incapacitates nearly all the gods at their birthplace. However, they are now trapped, unable to fight against the Giants or assist the Hunters of Artemis against Orion. Leo, Hazel and Frank learn that Zeus is angry with both gods, but especially with Apollo, whom he blames for appointing Rachel the Oracle of Delphi, revealing the Prophecy of Seven, and encouraging the war among the demigods by succumbing to the flattery of Octavian. Octavian’s insubordination and lust for blood, power and glory has gone even further than Reyna has realized: he has spent most of the legion’s money on powerful catapults called onagers built by Cyclopes. He has summoned hordes of centaurs, cynocephali (dog-headed men) and two-headed monsters to aid the Romans against the Greeks, and does not realize that they will turn on the Romans as soon as Camp Half-Blood is destroyed. Also, the ancient serpent Python is now coiled in the caverns of Delphi, blocking the spirit of prophecy; this is why Rachel Dare and Octavian can no longer see the future. Leo makes a music-making gadget as a gift for Apollo in exchange for a daisy picked by the god from the soil of Delos, another essential ingredient in a potion called “the physician’s cure” which Leo intends to obtain from Asclepius. Leo realizes that he must fight Gaea with fire and that this may mean his death, but The Physician’s Cure will bring him back to life so that he may fulfill the oath he swore on the Styx to return to Calypso and the line in the Prophecy of Seven that goes “an oath to keep with a final breath.”
Then the Seven go to Sparta, where Annabeth and Piper visit the ancient Spartan temple of Phobos and Deimos, the gods of fear and terror, respectively, and do battle with Mimas, the Giant created to oppose Hephaestus; Piper counsels Annabeth to go with her fear instead of trying to fight it, to embrace irrational passions such as fear and love instead of trying to keep everything under control, and by so doing they defeat Mimas and obtain the makhai, spirits of fear and anger.
The Seven’s next stop is the Temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus, where Leo, Jason and Piper manage to get past a menacing automaton guarding Asclepius’ office in order to see him. There, they bring to the physician god the Pylosian mint, the daisy picked from Delos by Apollo, and the imprisoned makhai, and convince him to concoct The Physician’s Cure for Leo; they leave with it and with a pair of glasses prescribed by Asclepius to treat nearsightedness which Jason has not realized he had.
Back at the ship, Leo programs Festus with Odysseus’ navigational device to take him back to Ogygia and with a syringe which will administer The Physician’s Cure to him if he dies in the fire he plans to unleash against Gaea. Hazel and Frank know of his plan, but not any of the Greek demigods, who Leo is sure will attempt to keep him from sacrificing himself.
Eventually, the Seven reach Athens, and are led to the Acropolis by Kekrops, the ancient half-snake king of Athens, who promptly turns on them, betraying them to the Giants, and they find themselves battling for their lives. While in combat, Annabeth gets a cut on her leg and her blood spills. Percy’s nose is bloodied by being batted by the hand of a giant and eventually a drop of his blood rolls down his chin in the midst of battle and spills onto the ground as well, thereby waking Gaea, who appears at Camp Half-Blood, intending to destroy it.
Reyna, Nico and Coach Hedge continue to Camp Half-Blood with Pegasus and the other flying horses and land upon the deck of a yacht called the Mi Amor anchored in Long Island Sound and occupied by two mortals who, thanks to Nico, remain deeply asleep throughout the tumultuous events which follow. Immediately they are confronted by Octavian’s right-hand man Michael Kahale and two other centurions, Dakota and Leila, who have been sent to arrest them, yet seem ambivalent about the task. Tyson shows up in a boat, and, mimicking Octavian’s voice, orders the centurions to lay down their weapons, then boards the boat and knocks Michael unconscious. Dakota and Leila prove to be glad to help Reyna and Nico complete the mission; Nico summons his undead chauffeur Jules-Albert and he, Dakota and Leila return Michael to the Roman camp, where Dakota and Leila incite a riot among Octavian’s monstrous allies in order to create a diversion. Alone, Reyna confronts Orion; aided by the power of Athena as well as Bellona, she kills him and lets him and his bow sink beneath the water.
Octavian attempts to attack Camp Half-Blood at dawn, but Dakota and Leila refuse to allow the cohorts under their command to engage, citing Reyna’s orders, and Nico, Will Solace, and two others, Lou Ellen, the head counselor for the Hecate cabin, and Cecil, son of Hermes, tamper with the onagers so that the missiles they fire all detonate harmlessly in midair. This, however, provokes Clarisse to issue a challenge to the Romans to withdraw or fight; however, Reyna arrives just in the nick of time with the Athena Parthenos and sets it down by Thalia’s pine tree, thereby healing the ancient breach between Greek and Roman demigods at last, and allowing the gods to come to the aid of the Seven in Athens. However, Gaea rises, and the Greeks and Romans, now united, find themselves confronting her as well as the monsters as they all sink into the earth.
With the Giants defeated, Zeus decrees that Apollo must pay for the war, and sends him to Olympus to await a punishment which is not revealed in the book; then the remaining Olympians, together with Nike, and the Seven, confer on what to do next. Gaea has risen, she must be dealt with immediately, and the only way for the Seven to get back to Camp Half-Blood in time is for Zeus to literally slap the ship back to Long Island. The Argo II disintegrates upon arrival at Camp Half-Blood, but Leo mounts Festus and engages Gaea, along with Jason and Piper. Jason summons the winds and lifts himself and Piper into the air as Leo lifts Gaea off the ground in Festus’ claws; Jason uses storm winds to keep Gaea away from the earth, her source of power, and Piper uses her charmspeak to lull Gaea to sleep, as Leo sends a blast of fire against her.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Octavian reloads one of the onagers, not realizing that his robes have snagged in the mechanism so that triggering the onager will launch him to his death as well; Will, seeing this, attempts to dissuade Octavian from triggering the device, but Nico, and Michael Kahale, who has appeared on the scene, realize that they cannot stop Octavian and that in fact, it is desirable, even necessary, that he should die. Michael interposes himself between the onager and the two Greek demigods, draws his sword, and deliberately allows Octavian to launch himself to his own death along with the onager’s explosive payload, which hits Gaea just as Leo blasts her with fire, doubling the fireball’s destructive force and rendering Gaea, like her husband Ouranos, permanently dispersed and powerless.
With Gaea finished, the combined Greek and Roman forces dispatch and scatter the monsters, incurring heavy casualties. Nico tells Percy his secret and earns himself Percy’s confusion and a high-five from Annabeth. Jason decides to stay at Camp Half-Blood with Piper but with frequent trips to Camp Jupiter. Percy and Annabeth decide to finish their senior year of high school in New York City and go to college in New Rome. At the end it is also revealed that Leo died in the explosion, but was brought back to life using The Physician’s Cure. He lands in Ogygia with Festus, picks up Calypso, and flies off into the unknown.
It was an absolutely terrific book, which rounded off the story in a spectacular way. All of our favourite characters got the endings (or at least hints at the endings) that we would hope for them. My favourite part of the book? I’m not going to lie, it was definitely the character development, general awesomeness, and the ending for Nico di Angelo (my favourite character throughout the entire story). The entire plot was brilliant, and brought together aspects of the original series with the new one, and completed the fantastically well-written story. I cannot recommend these books enough, they’re a must-read for anyone and have kept me entertained for years.
Thanks for reading.