Of course, Rome borrows heavily from ancient Greece in its mythology, so there isn’t much strictly ‘new’. But Riordan uses the idea cleverly – just like Camp Half-Blood, the camp for Greek demigods, there is a Camp Jupiter, for Roman demigods. Both camps are completely unaware of each other – until now. And just like between the ancient Greeks and Romans, there is animosity. For someone like me, who loves ancient mythology (I studied it quite a bit at university, my dissertation was based around an ancient Graeco-Egyptian god), this series has everything.
It was exciting to see the entwining of the two cultures, and Riordan showcases their similarities and differences very well. It was also fun to meet ‘familiar’ figures and see them brought to life by someone who has clearly done extensive research on the legends of ancient Rome, as well as the military and politics. I was really impressed by Riordan’s use of knowledge of ancient Rome to create Camp Jupiter, but after the first series I would not expect any less of him!
I actually picked this one up thinking it was the first book in the second series, when in actual fact it is number two – but I was not hindered at all by having not read the first one. Percy has memory loss for much of this book, and I believe that most of the first one is about another character who is mentioned in this one. All necessary back story was explained very well, without dumping information.
Unlike the first Percy Jackson series, this one switches point of view – it flicks between Percy and his two new companions, Frank and Hazel. Frank is new to Camp Jupiter, having only been there for a few weeks before Percy arrives. He is unsure of his parentage, and it was fun trying to guess who his father was, and other factors about his family history. For a kid’s book, it can really test the reader on their knowledge of mythological figures! Hazel has been at the camp for a while longer, and is equally as mysterious although her story gets cleared up a little sooner. I thought both new companions were well-rounded, and it was nice to have different points of view – as well as a story written in third person, rather than first person like the previous series.
Although the age on the back of the book says ‘9+’, I really feel that Rick Riordan’s stories are for all ages. Like Harry Potter, it’s a ‘childrens’ book that is so well-written and fun that you feel drawn into the action, whatever your age. I’m also excited to see that he has written a series based on ancient Egypt, and will be keeping a look out for that, as well as the rest of the books in the series!