Ask anyone who knows me: I am a huge Greek mythology nerd. I could talk about Icarus, Achilles, the gods and their terrible decision making for hours. While I have begun to branch out to other mythologies and love all of them, my heart lies with the Greeks. This obsession began way back in middle school when I picked up The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. It’s a classic mythology nerd origin story. Riordan has been dubbed “the storyteller of the gods” and this all began back in 2008 when he published the first novel in the Percy Jackson series. Since then, he has written approximately eighteen books based in Greek and Roman mythology, has branched out into Egyptian and Norse mythology, and has created Rick Riordan Presents, a branch of the publishing company that published Riordian’s novels, to allow authors from all different backgrounds to write so many unique modern day mythological stories.
Throughout my life, I have read so many books from the Victorian era of Jane Eyre to the early American era of The Scarlet Letter, and so much more. I have written stories of all varieties, and developed a deep love for learning and teaching English and writing. But something inside me keeps bringing me back to Greek mythology. And more specifically: the Percy Jackson series. Despite being a book series written for middle schoolers, it has become my most beloved collection of stories. I own every single one of the books (and I have two copies of the original five) and I reread them constantly. They are stories of love and adventure, stories of taking something that people consider a burden, and turning it into your greatest strength.
In late 2020, it was announced that Riordan was in conversation with Disney to create a live action Percy Jackson TV show. As some of you may be aware, 21st Century Fox purchased the adaptation rights to Percy Jackson to create a film version of the series, the first of which came out in 2010. On a purely adaptation standpoint, these movies were terrible. They were loosely based (in the nicest terms) on the novels, but changed so much of the heart and beauty of the stories. They even changed the character’s ages! Let’s just say, fans of the books were not pleased and only two movies were made before the project was canceled. But fast forward to 2019 when Disney purchased 21st Century Fox (and therefore the adaptation rights to Percy Jackson). It has been a long time coming, but in December 2023, the first season of the Percy Jackson TV show will drop on Disney+, this time with full input and support from Riordan, who was just as disappointed in the movies as the fans were. Cue screaming and squealing from fans around the world.
During this process, Riordan made a deal with Disney to return to the world of Percy Jackson and write another novel, in order to increase excitement and promotion for the series. This novel would return to the format of the original five books of the series. Some context: like I said before, Riordan has written approximately eighteen books based in Greek and Roman mythology. His first five novels are officially dubbed “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and they are written in first person from Percy’s point of view. In his later novels, Riordan switches his style a few times, sometimes third person, sometimes first person, but this new book would be the first novel since The Last Olympian (the fifth book of the series) where we get a first person Percy point of view.
And even more special: this would be the first book since the first ever novel, The Lightning Thief, where we get the original trio back on a quest together. The original trio consists of Percy Jackson, his best friend (and satyr) Grover Underwood, and fellow demigod, Annabeth Chase. This is The Chalice of the Gods.
And here is where we’ll take a quick pause. The rest of this review will have some spoilers for The Chalice of the Gods, and will be working with the assumption that those of you reading have a basic understanding of the plot of Percy’s story. For those that don’t, here is a one sentence summary: Percy Jackson is a modern day demigod son of Poseidon who has been going on quests for the gods in order to save the world since he was twelve years old. We good? Let’s go.
The Chalice of the Gods takes place in Percy’s senior year of high school. He has fought in many wars and is finally preparing to attend college with his girlfriend, Annabeth. But there’s a problem: the gods. Due to the fact that Percy was born out of a broken pact made by the Big Three gods (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades), and therefore shouldn’t exist, he is technically ineligible for New Rome University (the demigod college he and Annabeth want to attend). There is a way around this technicality: Percy has to do three new quests for three different gods and get each of them to write a recommendation letter for him. Annabeth and Grover are by his side for this and agree to help him complete the quests. The first quest is for Ganymede, cup-bearer to the gods, whose magic golden goblet has been stolen.
This novel is a love letter to the loyal fans. From the first line, “Look, I didn’t want to be a high school senior” calling back to The Lightning Thief’s first line, “Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood,” this novel is full of callbacks to previous quests, humorous one liners, Percy’s sarcastic point of view, deep emotional moments, and of course, mind numbingly sweet moments between the series’ main couple, Percy and Annabeth.
There are so many moments in this book that made me squeal like a little kid, bawl like a baby, and laugh like a hyena. From the fact that the only reason Percy is returning to questing is so he can go to college with Annabeth, to Grover being scared he’s being left behind, to Annabeth calming down Elisson, a river god, by giving him herbal tea. From Percy using a Messenger’s staff to tell Annabeth he loves her, to Poseidon calling Percy a hero, to Grover running around, clucking like a chicken. From Percy finding out his mom is pregnant, to Percy saying goodbye to Annabeth before fighting a god, to the classic funny chapter titles.
This story embodies so much of what makes the Percy Jackson series so amazing. It’s filled with lighthearted moments that make it just a pure joy to read, fast paced action that makes it easy to get wrapped up in, and deep moments that leave you thinking for days after finishing. It connects the readers back to the original story, a story of a kid navigating this new world while staying loyal to his loved ones. It is a truly magical story that I adored reading (and finished in just two days), and I am so excited to see what’s to come. Oh, you thought we were done? There are still two more quests Percy has to complete to get into college, remember? Wrath of the Triple Goddess comes out September 24, 2024. And until then demigods, return to twelve year old Percy in the Disney adaptation of The Lightning Thief, first two episodes out on Disney+ December 20. The world of myths and magic awaits.