UPDATED 4/5/16 to include Trials of Apollo
UPDATED 15/5/16 to include Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo, Vikings in Times Square and the link for Hammer of Thor preview.
UPDATED 7/10/16 to include Hammer of Thor.
“Before I read Magnus Chase or Trials of Apollo, do I need to read any of Rick Riordan’s other works?”
Answer: Read on.
After answering a couple of questions on Goodreads about the new series Magnus Chase, I’ve decided to write a blog post on it which should clear up any questions about how it fits in with Riordan’s previous books. His website is here and worth checking out, but it does not include some of the short stories in the information, or make clear to newcomers whether they can leap straight into one series without reading the ones that come before first. I endeavour to clarify that here.
Before I begin, I will say that I am only writing here about the fictional universe in which Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Trials of Apollo, Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase series all fall into. I am not including Riordan’s books for adults or the books about the universe. I will also say that if you have seen the films but not read the books, you are still a newbie because the films were not very faithful at all—especially not the second.
Also to note here, because there’s not much point writing it fourteen times, it’s vital to read the novels within a series in the right order, especially with Heroes of Olympus. Each book does a sort of brief introduction, but you’ll still be struggling to understand most of it. The order is crucial.
To clarify my terminology: by ‘the universe’ I mean the entire fictional reality that is home to all these books. By a ‘world’ I mean an individual portion of it, i.e. the Greek corner (Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus), the Egyptian corner (Kane Chronicles), etc. If you have no idea what I am talking about, the basis of Riordan’s work is that mythology is true and the gods are still hanging around in modern day, but on the whole stick to their own parts (which is not necessarily where they originated from). Got it? Good.
And so to the first on the list. (NB: Since first writing this post I have reformatted it, since grouping by series was getting too complicated (thanks, Rick).)
The Percy Jackson Series is Rick Riordan’s first series for children. It does a fantastic job of first introducing the reader to the concept of ancient mythology in modern times—in this case, the Greek pantheon. The main character is a young demigod, only just discovering who he is and plunged head-first into this world. The series basically sets the groundwork for all the other series to come.
The first of the series, and still one of my favourites. Do not assume you understand the story if you have seen the film for they cut and added a lot. Clear your mind of the film before you read and you won’t be sorry.
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters (Novel)
Do not assume you understand the story if you have seen the film for they cut and added even more than in the first film. Again, clear your mind of the film before reading.
Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot (Short Story)
This was originally written as a promotional piece for The Titan’s Curse (below) and posted on Riordan’s blog, which can be read here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Alternatively it can also be found in The Demigod Files.
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse (Novel)
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth (Novel)
Percy Jackson and the Bronze Dragon (Short Story)
Short story in The Demigod Files. Although not vital to be read at this point, The Last Olympian and Heroes of Olympus reference events in it.
Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades (Short Story)
Short story in The Demigod Files. This one is set distinctly between Labyrinth and Last Olympian, so best read between them.
The final novel, which wraps up everything except one new plot point, which is then the basis for Heroes of Olympus.
Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo (Short Story)
Short story in Guys Read Other Worlds. To my knowledge this is the only place it is printed, and the book can be found quite cheaply on Amazon. The story is set sometime between Last Olympian and Lost Hero. It can be read pretty much any time after Last Olympian. Personally I would have preferred to read it before Trials of Apollo (I only didn’t because I didn’t know this story existed then), but it’s not necessary.
NB: The rest of the content of The Demigod Files can be read pretty much anywhere after Lightning Thief.
The Diary of Luke Castellan (Short Story)
From The Demigod Diaries. Although set some years before Percy Jackson, it’s better read afterwards than before, probably why it was released under Heroes of Olympus’ title.
Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes (Short Story)
Also from The Demigod Diaries, set between The Last Olympian and The Lost Hero. It could also be read later but I listed it here since it is set here.
The Heroes of Olympus books is a sequel series if you will to the Percy Jackson series. It’s set shortly after The Last Olympian ended, and shares many characters as well as introducing new ones. Although you could probably understand the plot without reading Percy Jackson first, Percy Jackson does introduce the world better and many references would go over your head. This series also branches out somewhat into Roman mythology, thereby expanding the Greek worldview, which I believe also partly prepares the reader for the notion of other mythos in the universe.
Now Percy does not appear in this one, although some characters and the main setting from Percy Jackson do, and the story revolves around three new characters brought into this world. However, a knowledge of who’s who and what’s what I believe is beneficial. You will still be surprised.
Son of Magic (Short Story)
From The Demigod Diaries. This one is actually penned by Riordan’s son Haley, who inspired Percy Jackson in the first place. It’s set a few months after The Last Olympian and explores some of the consequences of events in that book. The characters are new. Please note I originally listed it before The Lost Hero, but having re-read it realised it contains a few spoilers and so have moved it here.
Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune (Novel)
Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford (Short Story)
From The Demigod Diaries. The events in this story, though not crucial to the overall story arc, are referenced several times in later novels.
Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades (Novel)
Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus (Novel)
The final book in the series, which again wraps everything up—well, just about. There are a couple of loose ends, which are the basis of Trials of Apollo (see below).
NB: The rest of the content of The Demigod Diaries can be read at any point in the series after The Lost Hero.
With the Kane Chronicles, we move to a different section of the universe entirely—the Egyptian pantheon. The rules of this one are very different from the Greek/Roman, and seem to conflict, although it’s said several times in the series that “conflicting things can still all be true”. Although the two worlds don’t meet, there are a couple of moments near the beginning that clarify yes, we are still in the same universe.
Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid (Novel)
Kane Chronicles: The Throne of Fire (Novel)
The final book wraps most things up, but leaves a couple of loose ends which are the basis for Demigods and Magicians (below).
Demigods and Magicians is a Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles crossover. It was originally three short stories available only on ebook, not mentioned on RR’s website, but now have been published as one physical book, Demigods and Magicians. They bring together Greek and Egyptian characters and tie up a couple of loose ends from Kane Chronicles, as well as paving the way for other potential clashing of mythology …
Demigods and Magicians: The Son of Sobek (Short Story)
Demigods and Magicians: The Staff of Serapis (Short Story)
Demigods and Magicians: The Crown of Ptolemy (Short Story)
NB: If you have the physical book, you don’t have to worry about the reading order since that’s how it’s laid out, but if you read them separately as ebooks then this is the order to read them in.
Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer.
The Magnus Chase and Trials of Apollo series are being released side by side, and it’s become apparent as of Hammer of Thor that the books are intended to be read that way.
The clashing with Percy Jackson’s world—though nowhere near as obvious as in Demigods and Magicians—is much more obvious than in Kane Chronicles, for the main reason that Magnus is the cousin of Annabeth, a main character from Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus. She does appear. I can’t go into detail without writing spoilers, but in my opinion, although the plot can be easily understood without having read all the previous series, you would miss out on all the references plus not understand who Annabeth is. In fact you would not see the clash at all, really. I also think the book has been written targeted at people who have already read Riordan’s books and are at least familiar with the demigod concept, since despite being longer it does not take as much time to cover all the ins and outs than the Lightning Thief, focusing only really on what differs due to being Norse.
In addition to all that, there’s the fact that if you enjoy one book/series, you’ll most likely enjoy all of them; and the same goes for the characters Percy and Magnus, for they share some character traits.
Vikings in Times Square (short story ish)
This isn’t really a story so much as a blog post of a museum exhibit, with commentary from Magnus and Annabeth, which sets it firmly after The Sword of Summer.
Next, to the latest (and from the sound of it, last) of the Greek series, Trials of Apollo, this time from the point of view of one of the gods. Having now read the new first book The Hidden Oracle, I can confirm that the plot is based on the loose ends left at the end of Blood of Olympus (and one from the Percy Jackson series that I never noticed) and includes several familiar characters. I think with this book it’s even more important to have already read the last two series; there is little to no new-reader exposition and if you are planning to read Heroes of Olympus at a later date–don’t do it that way, because Hidden Oracle contains massive spoilers. Seriously, read them in order.
One last thing about Trials of Apollo. I know I said I wasn’t going to be covering books about the universe in this post, but if you want a bit of background on the character of Apollo before you read the novel, you can check out Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. It’s not necessary to read the novel. Also note that there are some inconsistencies between the books retelling the myths and the novels, where (I presume, not being a myth expert) Rick Riordan used more creative licence in the novels, and the books about the myths are closer to the original stories. They’re well worth a read, anyway, especially if you want to understand more of the mythology references in the novels. The other one is Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. (NB: Each of those two books are titled “Percy Jackson and the …” in the UK and much of the Commonwealth.)
Magnus Chase: The Hammer of Thor
The second book in the Magnus Chase series is set definitively after The Hidden Oracle. Much like Sword of Summer, it appears targeted at readers already familiar with Riordan’s other works. There are less in-jokes than the first book, but more spoilers–it naturally spoils heavily for Sword of Summer, but also contains major spoilers for the Heroes of Olympus series and Trials of Apollo. The book also implies there might be more interaction with the Greek world in later books.
I hope that’s helped. Any questions, do comment and I’ll do my best to answer.
NB: Cover images are from each book’s Goodreads page.