Monday, January 10, 2011

'Lightning Thief' strikes down the competition

Riordan, Rick. The Lighting Thief. New York: Hyperion, 2005.

A friend recently loaned me the her collection of the Percy Jackson books, of which The Lightning Thief is the first, and (now that I've read the first three books), I'm finding them remarkably irresistible. Main character Percy Jackson discovers very early in the first book that he is a half-blood of the same ilk as the famous Hercules. And just as I sprinkle the name Hercules very lightly into this review, so are the names and characterisations of many ancient Gods sprinkled through Riordan's book. A la Gaiman's American Gods, the ancient deities have moved (mostly) to America, and have taken on attributes, both physical and otherwise, that make them difficult for the uninitiated to recognise. I won't give away the surprises of which Gods appear when, or which have been most swiftly adapted to fit modern American culture, but suffice to say that a few will be easily identified by the careful reader, while the appearances and depictions of others may be more challenging to anticipate (that, or my ancient mythology has grown rusty). I'd certainly recommend this book to any reader who finds Ancient Olympus a fascinating place, if not to other readers who may not expect to enjoy the book's premise: it is, actually, quite well done.

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