Reviews

Reading Rick Riordan: A Spoiler-Free Newbie’s Guide

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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.
UPDATED 30/7/18 to include The Dark Prophecy, The Ship of the Dead, The Burning Maze, and more information on The Singer of Apollo and 9 From the Nine Worlds.

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).)

Reading Order

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.

28187Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Novel)

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)2120932

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.

4502507Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian (Novel)

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, originally published in Guys Read Other Worlds but now available as an ebook. If you want a physical copy, the book can be found quite cheaply on Amazon, though the Kindle version is much cheaper. 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.

7736182Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero (Novel)

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.

12127810Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena (Novel)

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)

12893742Kane Chronicles: The Serpent’s Shadow (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 …18752963

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 15724396appear. 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.

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle (Novel)

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. 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.)

26874946Magnus 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.

Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy (Novel)

Magnus Chase: Ship of the Dead (Novel)

The last of the trilogy.

NB: There is a collection of short stories called 9 From the Nine Worlds due for release in October. When I’ve read them I will update this post.

Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze (Novel)

There are supposed to be two more Trials of Apollo books to come now.

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.

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“A World of Endless Wonder”

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So, after that last post saying how difficult it is writing reviews … here’s a review. The irony is not lost on me! I chose to review a TV show I recently bought on Amazon, then decided as I wrote it that it would be something good for the blog as well. So here goes.

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Warehouse 13 was a recent discovery of mine and instantly became one of my all-time favourite shows. Imagine Bones, take out the gory bits, and replace them with the “anything goes” fantasy style of Charmed, give it a warehouse_13steampunk makeover, and you’ve got an idea what it’s like. Admittedly slightly cheesy now and then, but that’s the way I like my TV. You also might like it if you like Buffy. The relationship between Claudia and Artie is quite close to that of Buffy and Giles, and W13 also stars Anthony (Stewart) Head and James Masters.warehouse_13_16

The warehouse of the title, dubbed “America’s attic”, is the place to protect everyday objects that have inexplicably been imbued with mysterious powers. The main characters track down the objects, called “artefacts”, and protect the
warehouse, and by extension the world. The main antagonists usually want the warehouse-13-no-pain-no-gain-petalsartefacts for themselves.

Every artefact is different, which makes for nicely varied episode plots. For some reason I never quite figured out, they all seemed to belong to dead famous people (“people with Wikipedia pages”)—Sylvia Plath’s typewriter, Jack the Ripper’s lantern, Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, HG Wells’ time machine … you get the idea. There’s a degree of predictability occasionally in some of the individual episode arcs, but overall the show twists and turns nicely. The good guys are loveable, even the grumpy ones (Artie). The bad guys (and the morally ambiguous guys) are equally fascinating, and for some reason are mostly English.Past_Imperferct

The show ran for five series, and I think wrapped up quite well. I have watched the box set twice over now, but not all the bonus features yet. That delight is still to come!


Copyright note: The photographs are borrowed from syfy.co.uk, hollywoodreporter.com, geeknation.com, gamesradar.com, and warehouse13.wikia.com.

 

Featured Poetry

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It’s still National Poetry Month–just about (not long left)–so here comes my new poetry post. As promised, I’ve included a short review, and a poet feature.

Echoes, by Janice T

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The author has a real gift with words. The neo-Victorian style–the first anthology I have read of it–is very different to both contemporary poetry and pre-twentieth century movements; archaic and occasionally modern language with both traditional and non-traditional rhyme structures.

My favourite in the collection is probably Skyline, one of the shorter poems. One of my favourite quotes is

Against the distant hills,
Soft sentries, washed with Summer’s gold.
The verdant green did swell
As if to reach beyond their hold

(From Endless Orchards)

During April, the collection is available for free from Smashwords. The author also has many other poems published on her website.

Siofra McSherry

I first discovered McSherry‘s work during my poetry module. A few are freely available to read, others are published in anthologies and magazines. Her poetry is contemporary, very lyrical with a lot of nature imagery. In terms of style, hers is not far off from my own, with an exception:

It’s more that I’m writing, and stealing things from everywhere, rather than I feel like I have to write about something in particular.

I usually need a subject to begin writing, though I can deviate from time to time.

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

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If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

Harry Potter Joke Books?

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“The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke and Riddle Book”, by R.U Kidding M.E. I stumbled across this in my Kindle recommendations this morning, but sadly it did not live up to expectations.

This book needs a lot of work before I would pay money for it. I didn’t need to read further than the free sample–most of the jokes are not actually HP-related apart from the author sticking a character name in front, some are Americanised and just don’t fit with the feel of the books, and there are persistent errors: in the Herbology section, Professor Sprout is consistency referred to as Madam Pomfrey. The few jokes that were actually Harry Potter jokes and I as a Brit appreciated and were factually correct, just didn’t merit paying for.

If you’re looking for a Harry Potter joke book where the author knows their stuff, I highly recommend “Harry Pottiness: A Totally Unofficial 6395927Book of Muggle Fun”.

I’ve thumbed my way through this book time and time again when needing some laughs. It’s true it’s incredibly cheesy and the jokes are BAD, but most do fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. The highlights however have to be the more creative pages, such as the Invisibility Cloak care label, and the music chart–always worth a giggle. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to understand most of the jokes; having seen most of the films once is probably good enough.

Writing Stuff

Since we seem to be having a Potter themed post, why not? I don’t normally discuss my fan fiction on this blog, but as it happens, the (Harry Potter) fan fiction chapter I mentioned in my last post that got mostly wiped, I have managed to re-write to, I think, a pretty good standard. It’s a couple of hundred words shorter so I’ve obviously lost some content forever, but I’m pretty sure I covered everything I meant to cover. Even a lot of the dialogue reads like it did before, which is brilliant. My prayers have been answered. The chapter in question is actually on a story that’s not public yet, and won’t be for a long time–but that doesn’t mean I don’t write something on it when the thought strikes. It’s actually one of the sequels to Six.

Moving away from the Potter stuff, I am so close now with my coursework–just got to figure out this bibliography, and some proof-reading, and I’ll be free to work on Aquila! (And hopefully a few days’ holiday!) I got a 5 for my Children’s Writing module–I have to say I was slightly disappointed, as the first draft of one of my stories was predicted 4-6 before it was redrafted, and it means I just missed getting a First on another module. I’m not totally confident in the report I’m about to hand in, so my hopes are pinned on my Aquila script.

Pin of the Week

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Review of “The Bone Knife” & Other Stuff

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Review

The Bone Knife: A Short StoryThe Bone Knife: A Short Story by Intisar Khanani
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bone Knife, and look forward to reading more by Khanani. The characters are intriguing (I love Bean) and Rae makes an excellent protagonist, for both a short story and longer fiction. Like the best fantasy, the plot is as much about the human condition as it is about the magic, and the strange relationship between Rae and the Faerie left me eager to see it explored more. Overall a well-written, enjoyable story, and a well done to the author.

View all my reviews

Writing Stuff

I have posted one of my poems, Let Them Eat Cake, to my website. I had a poetry splurge the other day but, I don’t know, I just don’t feel what I’m producing is my best work. And I am a bit of a perfectionist.

Disaster struck this week as my so-called backup system erased almost an entire chapter off my hard drive! Fortunately it was fan fiction rather than something else, but it was still a blow; I lost over 1000 words that I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to write out again, not to the same standard. At least now I know what the problem was–my hopes are pinned on the company being able to, somehow, retrieve the document. Technology hates me …

Randomness

My brony brother should now be over the moon, as a broken hard drive has driven me, out of desperation, into watching the episodes of My Little Pony he insisted on giving me (only after I had finished W.I.T.C.H). And I’m enjoying them. Now I have admitted this I can never show my face in public again …

Pin of the week

As a former English student, I get extra joy from this one.

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Review of “Fantasy Short Stories Issue 1” & Other Stuff

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Updating

Since trying to keep my posts ‘useful’, I have found that they have become a lot less frequent and attract less readers. So I have made a decision to set aside a specific weekly time to focus on this and do it properly. Hopefully this should solve the problem.

Writing Progress

I’ve written hardly any poetry over the summer, so this week has been a real bonus for me as I worked on about four drafts, and written two more from scratch. I’ve been researching more poetry competitions with a view to submitting to bigger ones, hopefully being in with a chance.

Review

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Described as an anthology of “the best in Heroic, Epic and High Fantasy, and with plenty of Sword and Sorcery thrown in”, Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 doesn’t disappoint. The five shorts are of a generally high quality writing. I prefer indigenous fantasy novels to short high fantasy, but enjoyed most of the stories–one or two were a little violent for my liking. I think my favourite, and the strongest, was “The Empty Dark” by C L Holland; it was the most engaging and the ending was the most satisfactory of the collection. I liked the idea behind “The Pivot” but found the narrative style difficult to follow. Overall I would recommend the issue.

Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 is available on Kindle and other ebooks for £3.08.

For writers: details for submissions are located in the back, and on the website (link above).

Feedback

I am trying out a new post format–do the headings work for you? Or do you prefer the days of my rambles? Please let me know.