The Mark of Athena is the middle novel in Rick Riordan’s five-book series, The Heroes of Olympus. Now that the Roman and Greek camps know about each other, everything should be fine, right? Unfortunately, an accident leads to the newly formed group—Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and Leo—racing off on the quest to Rome with little warning or preparation. Along the way, Annabeth must grapple with the fact that she has to tackle a possibly deadly mission alone; meanwhile, Nico di Angelo has been captured by giants, and his time is rapidly running out.
There are four characters with points of view in this book, but Riordan does a good job giving us the right person’s perspective at just the right time. All seven main characters, plus Coach Hedge the satyr, get a chance to shine and have character development, which is admirable. It’s a slightly unwieldy cast size, but Riordan balances them all excellently. I also love getting to see how different characters—some of whom have only just met—get along (or don’t, sometimes).
Much of the plot is travel-centric, which reminds me of the second Percy Jackson book; however, this one is more original. We meet new monsters and deities, as well as get some clarity on how the gods have two personalities, Greek and Roman. We also get to see how one of the original homes of the gods, Rome, affects both them and the demigods. The stakes are higher here in this book, and the cliffhanger leaves the reader screaming.
Besides the exciting plot, there are solid themes present. This book is about getting along, working as a team, and putting aside differences and conflicting beliefs in order to work toward a common goal. This is an important theme, especially for middle- and high-school students. These seven teens have been thrown together because of circumstances, and are told they should not like each other, but end up great friends and find that, though each has unique skills, each person is valuable.
In the end, The Mark of Athena is a strong book, especially for a mid-series installment. The characters continue to evolve in their new circumstances, new obstacles are revealed and tackled, and the suspense cranks up in regards to the overall story arc. This reread was tons of fun, and this time I don’t even have to wait to start the next book!
Overall rating: 8.4/10