The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, book three)
By Rick Riordan
Published 2012 by Hyperion
WARNING: There will be spoilers for the first two books in the series. To read my reviews of those titles, go here and here.
With a prophecy hanging over her head, Annabeth is a bit of a nervous wreck. She's about to be reunited with her boyfriend (who she hasn't seen in many months) - that is, if she can get her ship past the Romans, who are poised for battle. In addition, she carries a gift from her mother that feels more like a burden than a delightful present. Will Annabeth - along with the other demigods - be able to find and close the Doors of Death?
I, like many others, had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this title (perhaps not as much as my boyfriend, who has a literary crush on Annabeth). The more time passes, the more this new series grows on me. As I've said in my first two reviews, this is due in large part to the deeper complexity of the plot in this series. There are multiple prophecies being explored throughout this series, as well as two entire sets of mythology to mine for characters and stories, leading to a richer world. I do, in fact, like Annabeth as a character and was excited to see her as one of the narrators of this story. Once again, Riordan has a great sense for compelling the story along, as this is his longest book yet and the pages just flew by as I read. However, on the whole, I don't think this is executed as well as his previous titles. I'm pretty sure that, as a series, The Kane Chronicles is my favorite, but I've enjoyed all of his books. With this one, for the first time, I felt a sense of ridiculous. The book is told in alternating narratives: four characters take turns telling the story. But, this time I noticed a lot of "meanwhile, back at the ranch..." type storytelling and it just seemed a little tedious. I suppose this has actually been going on throughout this whole series (and actually, probably occurs in the Kane Chronicles as well) but this was the first time I noticed it. I feel like I rolled my eyes at the beginning of every new narrator's section.
That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book - like I said, it's fast-paced, complex and exciting. And, maybe this is a weird sentiment, but these characters feel comfortable. Percy and Annabeth have now been characters in eight books, more than Harry and Ron and Hermoine, though they've been more or less present throughout the two series. But there is something about reading these characters that just feels comfortable, despite the fact that their lives are usually in mortal peril. I love seeing the characters and their relationships with each other develop over the course of the series. I like discovering the new twists and turns that they will have to navigate in order to achieve their destinies. I love that I still continue to learn new things with every book I read.
So, though I may have felt a little less enthusiastic about the telling of this story than the others, I still love these stories and hope Riordan continues to create new ones.