The Titan's Curse
A book review for parents
This fantasy adventure is the third book in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan and is published by Miramax Books, a division of Hyperion Books for Children.
The Titan's Curse is written for kids ages 10 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Percy Jackson, half-mortal and half-Greek god, has known his demi-god (or "hero") status for several years. As the son of Poseidon, the sea god, he's already gone on several quests to aid and rescue gods or other half-bloods. He spends his summers at Camp Half-Blood, where he and other heroes find magical protection from monsters and learn how to cope with — perhaps even embrace — their unusual heritage.
In The Titan's Curse, Percy and his half-blood friends Thalia, daughter of Zeus, and Annabeth, daughter of Athena, respond to a distress call from their satyr friend, Grover. Grover has found a pair of half-blood siblings, Nico and Bianca, at the school where he pretends to be a student. He fears a monster, a manticore posing as a teacher, has discovered them as well. As the heroes try to rescue the kids, the manticore tells Percy the Great Stirring (of monsters) is underway. One monster will even cause the downfall of Olympus, he says. The goddess Artemis and her Hunters arrive to assist the heroes, and they recruit Bianca to join their sisterhood. The manticore captures Annabeth and disappears. When Percy tells Artemis about the manticore's prophecy, she puts her second in command, Zoe, in charge and leaves to hunt the monster.
The heroes and Hunters return to Camp Half-Blood. They know the stirring of monsters means Titan King Kronos, hated father of the gods whom the gods cut into many pieces long ago, is regenerating and regaining strength. He's using Luke, a former camper and friend of Thalia and Annabeth, to draw as many half-bloods as possible to his team. Zoe and Percy both have dreams leading them to believe that Annabeth is alive and that Artemis has been kidnapped. The Oracle of Delphi, a mummy who lives in an attic at the camp, issues a prophecy and the camp leaders send Zoe, Bianca, another Hunter named Phoebe, Thalia and Grover to find Artemis. Percy secretly follows them and is discovered when he saves them from the attacking Nemean Lion.
Percy and the others go to New Mexico, where they fight evil skeletons. Pan sends them a wild boar (the Erymanthian Boar) that takes them on its back to the junkyard of the gods in Arizona. When Bianca removes something from the junk heap, a monster appears and takes her. Fearing that Bianca is dead, the group sadly moves on to the Hoover Dam, where the skeletons attack again and statues come to life to fly them to San Francisco. There, they find a sea cow called the Ophiotaurus, which, according to prophesy, will bring great power to whomever sacrifices it. The manticore appears and tells Thalia that since she's a child of one of the Big Three gods (Zeus, Hades and Poseidon) and is about to turn 16, she can sacrifice the sea cow, bring an end to Olympus, and have great power if she chooses. Thalia is momentarily tempted, but Percy helps her escape while Grover takes the Ophiotaurus to safety.
Percy, Zoe and Thalia find Artemis and Annabeth being held captive by the Titan forces. Atlas, the head Titan general, is also Zoe's father. He's forcing Artemis to hold up the weight of the world, which is the Titan's Curse. Percy temporarily takes it from her so she can battle Atlas. Luke appears and urges Thalia to join him in overthrowing Olympus. After a battle, Zoe dies at her father's hand, Luke vanishes and the weight of the world is returned to Atlas' shoulders. Thalia and Percy, having rescued Artemis and Annabeth, meet with the gods. Grover is already there with the Ophiotaurus, which the gods agree to keep in protective custody. The heroes attend a lavish party.
Chiron, the centaur and assistant camp director, cares about his campers. He is shaken by Annabeth's disappearance, since Percy says Chiron had practically raised her when she was a full-time camper. Percy's mother drives him and his hero friends to Grover's school after the satyr's S.O.S. call. She demonstrates concern for Percy but, knowing who and what he is, tries not to be overprotective. Thalia's mother was killed in a crash after one of her many drinking binges. Zoe's father, Atlas, cares only about overthrowing Olympus and isn't upset about destroying his own daughter. Poseidon and other gods and goddesses show some pride in their children's activities, but primarily remain distant observers rather than acting in a parental capacity.
Other Belief Systems
The premise of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series is that the gods of mythology exist today and control world events with their magical powers. For example, Percy and his friends receive help from Apollo who drives the sun across the sky each day. Apollo tells Percy the sun is made up of human dreams and man's perceptions of its power. As in the ancient myths, the gods and goddesses still have affairs with humans. Their children, such as Percy, are powerful demi-gods. Percy and other half-bloods frequently pray to the gods, especially their own fathers or mothers, for help or direction. As the centers of power have moved throughout history, so have the gods, who now live in, above and below America. The monsters that pursue them are primal forces without souls so they cannot die, only re-form themselves. Many demi-gods attend Camp Half-Blood because life in the real world proves difficult. The camp has magic borders that monsters are unable to penetrate. A magical tree, which used to draw its power from Thalia, still protects the camp. The Oracle of Delphi provides prophesies concerning what the demi-gods will or must do. The oracle has given Chiron prophesies indicating that one of the half-blood children of the Big Three gods (Zeus, Hades and Poseidon) will face a monumental challenge on his or her 16th birthday.
Girls who choose to follow Artemis and become one of her Hunters must pledge themselves to her, as well as pledge to turn their backs on the company of men. Demi-gods can send Iris-messages, which allow them to speak to others far away, by offering ancient Greek coins to Iris, goddess of the rainbow. Chiron makes a claw-like gesture over his heart, an ancient symbol used to ward off evil. Grover performs a tracking spell to help find Artemis. Grover and Percy are empathic, so they can read each other's emotions. The pegasi (winged horses that transport Percy periodically) speak into Percy's mind rather than talking aloud. Percy says Luke deserves to die, and that he couldn't still be alive because that wouldn't be fair. Tourists at the Hoover Dam rub the toes of statues called the guardians because they think the action will bring good luck. Bianca says Annabeth is lucky to have a friend like Percy, and Percy says he and Thalia won the prize for bad luck when a boar charges them. Thalia suggests that Percy's prayer to Poseidon concerning the safety of the Ophiotaurus is so big that it requires some kind of sacrifice. Nico collects figurines and trading cards of the gods for his game, Mythomagic. He hopes that, as a hero, he can die and be resurrected and just keep fighting. Zoe says she senses the presence of the god Pan, Lord of the Wild, and Grover says the arrival of the boar is a gift from Pan. Thalia can mesmerize people by snapping her fingers and creating a Mist, as can many of the demi-gods. As the heroes try to resuscitate the wounded Zoe, Artemis tells them life is fragile and that if the Fates want to cut the string, there's little she can do to help. Atlas says the sky and the earth long to embrace each other, so someone must hold them apart or the sky would crash down on the earth.
Percy and his friends use phrases like oh my gods, thank the gods, may the gods be with you and Holy Zeus. A few uses of the words butt, heck, darn, and fart appear. A mortal uses the Lord's name in vain once or twice. A few characters curse each other (saying, "Curse you"). While at the Hoover Dam, Percy, Grover and Thalia amuse themselves by talking about the "dam snack bar," wanting to buy some "dam T-shirts," etc.
Satyrs chase nymphs playfully around the camp because the nymphs have promised to kiss the satyrs if they're caught. Aphrodite runs around with her boyfriend Ares even though she's married to Hephaestus.
BookSense Top Ten Summer Pick, 2007
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why do Bianca and Thalia both decide to join Artemis and become Hunters?
Would you want to be immortal and never get older?
Why or why not?
What would be the advantages and disadvantages of being immortal on this earth?
- Why are the gods nervous about Thalia and Percy becoming too powerful, even though they are on the Olympians' side?
What can happen when people are offered great power or wealth?
Give an example.
What kind of prize or honor might tempt you to do something you know is wrong?
- Are the gods and goddesses good parents? Why or why not?
In what ways do they help their children?
In what ways do they make their children's lives more difficult?
How could the gods and goddesses be better parents?
- What is a fatal flaw?
What does Athena identify as Percy's fatal flaw?
Do all people have a fatal flaw, or an aspect of their personality that can cause them trouble if they aren't cautious?
Do you have a fatal flaw?
What is it?
What can you do to keep it in check?
Lying: Percy sometimes lies to his friends to avoid hurting them or admitting his own weakness.
Alcohol: Camp Director Dionysus, god of wine, has been banned from drinking and sentenced to work at Half-Blood Hill by his father, Zeus. He produces wine bottles at a meeting, until the campers remind him wine is banned and most of them are underage anyway. He turns the wine into Diet Coke. Percy's mom and her new boyfriend drink wine together.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.