I love to read. Duh. One of my favorite genres is contemporary fantasy, which has a setting in this world but with a hint of magic and/or fantasy elements in it. The most famous example ofcourse is Harry Potter. Also, Neil Gaiman rocks this genre. Another, maybe slightly lesser known author who is a master of contemporary fantasy, is Rick Riordan. Maybe he even writes a subgenre, which we shall call contemporary mythology. If you love Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology, Rick Riordan is your guy. Here is an ode to the Myth Master.
Rick Riordan’s bookseries
Let’s start of with the series Riordan wrote so far, for those not familiar with his work. There are also a lot of compendiums, guides, graphic novels and even a Percy Jackson colouring book, but those aren’t covered here.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
These books started it all. It’s the story about Percy Jackson, who finds out he is the son of Greek God Poseidon. He travels to camp Half Blood, where all demigods are safe and can train in the old ways, and learn about their heritage. There are prophecies, ancient creatures (the Minotaur! Centaurs! Cyclops!) and new heroes. The books are filled to the brim with nods to Greek mythology. If you’re not an avid bookreader, there are two films: The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters were made into movies. They are not the best films, as always the books are WAY better, but still, they are entertaining and a fun way into the world of Rick Riordan. And, it has Nathan Fillion as Hermes who makes the best inside joke about Firefly (sorta, kinda. Just go see it).
The Heroes of Olympus
This series is the follow-up to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but it features a lot more POV-characters. Heroes of the Olympus combines both Greek and Roman mythology, with some demigods being born to Greek Gods and some to Roman Gods. This last group has their own residence: Camp Jupiter. The seven heroes (including Percy Jackson) must work together to face an ancient evil. This series can be read without any previous knowlegde of the other books, but trust me when I say it’s more fun to read them in order. Heroes of the Olympus also has an overlapping prophecy throughout the five books:
Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.
The Kane Chronicles
Where the Olympus books are both pentalogies, this is a trilogy, and it’s about Egyptian mythology. This is my personal least favorite series, mostly because I just don’t like the main characters, Carter and Sadie Kane. These siblings are descendants to pharaohs Ramses the Great and Narmer. This is a fun series to get to know more about Egyptian mythology ans since there are only three books, it’s a quick read. Riordan went on to write three stories in which the Kane siblings meet Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase (also a main character in the previous books).
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
It was only a matter of time before Riordan took on the magic Norse mythology. Magnus Chase (cousin to Annabeth Chase) is the son of a Norse God (I won’t spoil which one). He gets help from a Valkyrie, a dwarf and an elf, so this is by far the most diverse group out of all bookseries. Famous names like Thor, Loki, Odin and Heimdall all make their appearance, but don’t think they will resemble anything like their Marvel counterparts. This series will be a trilogy, with the third and final book coming out in October 2017. And since Magnus and Annabeth are cousins, there are some tie-ins to the Olympians. It’s great how all of Riordan’s work takes place in the same universe.
The Trials of Apollo
With his latest series, Riordan is back to his Greek mythology roots. Only one book is out at the moment, with the second one coming in May, 2017. It’s about the God Apollo being thrown to Earth by his father, Zeus. Zeus, as usual, is upset about something and Apollo must make amends. The only thing is: he is now completely human and has no godly powers. It’s great to be back in Greek territory again, and back with (a short cameo by) Percy Jackson. The Hidden Oracle was a fun book, with Apollo being a bit to whiny for my taste, but I can’t wait to read on when book two hits the shelves. Each chapter starts, I kid you not, with a haiku, as Apollo is, amongst many other things, God of Poetry. For instance, this is the haiku for chapter 3:
Used to be goddy
Now uptown feeling shoddy
Bah, haiku don’t rhyme
Rick Riordan is master of diversity
The Heroes of Olympus features seven POV-characters, all with a different background. There’s Chinese Frank, Latino Leo, Native American Piper, and so on. It could be said that Riordan was trying a bit too hard, with his Olympians series being not quite so diverse, but if you’re complaining about that, get out now (if you want to complain, complain about how annoying Piper is… she’s my least favorite character throughout all Riordan’s books). One of the main characters is gay and even has a short lasting crush on Percy. Without saying who he is, this character and his boyfriend make an appearance again in The Trials of Apollo and they are just the best couple: one being superduper happy and cheerful, the other being gloomy AF. None of Riordan’s characters are without flaw. For instance: Percy Jackson has ADHD and dyslexia, Magnus Chase was homeless.
In the Magnus Chase series, there is a kick-ass Muslima (Samira al-Abbas, see image on the left) who is Magnus’ best friend. She is a Valkyrie, and also the daughter of one of the Norse Gods. One of Magnus’ other friends, the Elf Hearthstone, is deaf and uses sign language. In the second book (The Hammer of Thor) a gender fluid character is introduced. This Alex explaines who she (and at times, he) is in clear and simple terms, without anyone making a problem out of this. Everyone treats her with respect and she plays a pivotal role in the book. As the book progresses, it becomes clear Alex just might be the love interest for Magnus. Read this great column for more on Alex (there are spoilers there!). It’s so great and important for children of all ages, gender and ethnicity to have rolemodels in Riordan’s books.
Rick Riordan is a great person
It’s impossible to explain just how funny Riordan is. It’s another reason you should read his books. Also, there are a lot of popculture references in each chapter, from Supernatural to Star Wars and from Marvel to DC. When reading a Rick Riordan book, I am always smiling. They are just so much fun! It’s great to have some relatively light reading available. While these are children’s/YA books, it seems Riordan keeps in mind a lot of adults also read his books. And the best thing is: his writing pace is amazing. This year alone, two new novels will come out. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. The only (yet HUGE) downside to his mad and fast writing skills is that he never travels abroad to do booktours or signings. He explains this on his own website:
I’m never able to travel internationally just because I have to spend most of my time writing, and travel is very time-consuming. I’d love to visit all the countries where my books are published, but if I did that, it would take me five to ten years to write each book, and I don’t think you want to wait that long! So, no, if you live outside North America, you will not see me on tour.
Maybe I should save some money and go see him in the United States someday. If you would like more proof about how awesome Rick Riordan is, follow him on Twitter. So, what are you waiting for? Go dive into the amazing worlds Rick Riordan has created! And if you’ve read (some of) his books, who’s your favorite character?