Having been through two books that had different sets of heroes introduced, it was time for the titular characters of the Heroes of Olympus to come together, and The Mark of Athena became the book that delivered that, and so much more.
The third installment of my Heroes of Olympus nostalgia review run, The Mark of Athena is widely regarded and the best book of the series, and there may indeed be reason for that. I can see why the majority of readers would have that view. Do I agree? Not necessarily.
The Mark of Athena centres primarily around Annabeth Chase, and it was about time. Having featured in the five Percy Jackson books, and in the Lost Hero, she needed some spotlight. For the first time ever, in this book, the story is narrated from Annabeth’s point of view, and Riordan’s readers got to experience things the way the smartest child at Camp Half-Blood did. At least in the initial parts of the book, that’s really fascinating, and it is indeed different to how chapters from other points of view feel.
The central story of The Mark of Athena (although not the only one) regards a quest Annabeth has been given by her mother, Athena, which could possibly subdue the bitter rivalry between Greek and Roman demigods, while the Romans from Camp Jupiter make their advances on Camp Half-Blood.
Having seven main heroes for the first time could have been a challenge for Riordan, but for the most part, his execution is undeniably great. More on that later. Riordan wisely chooses to have little subplots or character dynamics between specific characters that play off throughout the narrative, and adds great amounts of depth and character development.
Much like Annabeth, this is a cleverly written book, with the story moving between places really quick and little elements in the story being connected implicitly, all coming together in a satisfying circle that only excites readers for the next book.
However, as I read through this book (which gripped me more than The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune on my rereading run), I couldn’t help but feel like Riordan’s chosen points of view in The Mark of Athena brought it down a tad bit.
Naturally, one of the perspectives is Annabeth. The other three are Leo, Piper and Percy. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this, but I do think Hazel, Frank and Jason lost a lot in this book. We are never inside their heads and able to relate to them as much as the others. At least Jason’s problems were similar to Percy’s. Hazel and Frank deserved more in this book, especially the former, considering the fact that someone close to her is an integral part of this story. In this book, Leo, Hazel and Frank and very closely tied together, so replacing Leo with Hazel would have probably been the best choice for Riordan to make.
On that note, Leo is the greatest demigod ever.
I’ll end on a high note in the same place I started: Annabeth. Any Rick Riordan fan would understand the sheer satisfaction of having her be in the spotlight after being the secondary character for so long. This was her book, and the way her character progresses in this story is magnificent. She couldn’t have been written better.
The Mark of Athena, despite being surrounded by an air of confusion in its points of view, is an excellently crafted book that captured the essence of the Heroes of Olympus and all its underlying themes. After two books (albeit good) of set up, seeing this book series kick into gear really brings it to life.
My review of The House of Hades may take quite a bit of time (Two to three weeks, maybe?), but it’s definitely coming your way soon.
On a scale where M is the lowest, and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating: