Remember Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? It wasn't Harry Potter and the Happy Ending—that would be another book entirely. When you make it to the end of a series, there has to be a sense of dread. And that, Shmoopers, is why we have The Blood of Olympus, and not, say, The Cookies 'n' Cream of Olympus.
But what does it mean for the plot? Well, when it comes to the Greeks and Romans, there's always a prophecy. This book is chock full of them, but the relevant one here is the one that says the blood of Olympus will awaken the Earth Mother, Gaea.
You'd think they could avoid the whole thing by staying as far away from Olympus as possible, but Percy and Annabeth, children of Poseidon and Athena, head right there and, of course, bleed all over the place. And while they're at it, they shout out the title:
The blood of Olympus, Piper thought with dread. (43.36)
Yep—it's the beginning of the end.
The Gaea in this book isn't anywhere near as nice and kind as the one voiced by Whoopi Goldberg in Captain Planet. This Gaea is a titan, and would be voiced by someone like…Barbara Walters. Just saying.
Here's the deal: titans hate the gods and, by extension, their children…and pretty much all humanity. They just want the whole planet back. So our gang is not a fan of the plan to resurrect Gaea. But of course, by trying to stop it, they end up starting it.
The rise of Gaea, however, turns out to be very anticlimactic. Goddess barely lasts a chapter. She rises out of the ground in human form, turning the ground to sludge—which is awesome by the way, and a special effect we can't wait to see in the inevitable movie—but is quickly plucked away by Leo and a flying mechanical dragon.
And earth titan and the sky don't mix. The farther she gets from the ground, the weaker she is, and when Leo blows her up, well…no more Gaea: "Dispersed and powerless […] she could never again form a consciousness" (54.5). Leo ends up resurrecting himself and reuniting with his love, Calypso.
Oh, just one thing: all his friends think he's dead.
Pretty much everyone else ends up with his or her significant other—Jason and Piper, Frank and Hazel, Percy and Annabeth, Nico and Will (maybe?). Reyna will be forever alone, but Piper, who has a boyfriend, reminds her that that's okay because she has plenty of friends.
The action in the Jason, Leo, and Piper chapters takes place aboard their ship, the Argo II, as they make their way to Athens. See this map? It's as easy as traveling that little strait, the Corinth strait, to get there. A snap, right?
This is an adventure story, so in the first few chapters, Jason and friends realize that the strait is filled with traps which equal certain death. Instead, they have to go all the way around—and even that way isn't completely safe, and they get to have a few adventures along the way.
Reyna and Nico teleport via shadow-travel to a few different locales with the Athena Parthenos—Pompeii, Portugal, Puerto Rico, exotic South Carolina—all on their way to Camp Half-Blood…which you may remember from Percy Jackson's first set of books. Although they mostly fight monsters, they also get to see a few sights along the way, like a temple made out of bones (no thanks) and the Barrachina restaurant, birthplace of the piña colada. We'll take two.
We said that The Lightning Thief rested at Sea Level (a 2 on the ol' tough-o-meter). Blood of Olympus is a step up the mountain—the mountain in this case being the Acropolis, the final destination for our heroes. Percy and his pals are a little older, a little wiser, and thereby have a larger page count and a bigger vocabulary than they did back in the Camp Half-Blood days.
One thing that hasn't changed since those times, though, is the fast page-turning pace of this adventurous novel.
The physician's cure just sounds important. And it is. The cure is our quest item for the crew of the Argo II—the thing they're after throughout their adventure.
They first hear about it from Nike, who mentions it because one of them—Piper, Jason, Percy, Annabeth, Frank, Hazel, or Leo, we don't know who—is supposed to die. (Is it just us, or are prophecies always about someone dying?) The physician's cure will allow them to fulfill the conditions of the prophecy (i.e., croak), but it comes with a loophole which will bring them back to life. Sounds like an okay option.
In order to make the cure, the gang needs three ingredients:
You know, all things you can find at your local grocery store. (Don't ever settle for generic heartbeat!)
The group finds the first ingredient, Pylosian mint, fairly quickly, but the other two take a little more work. The chained statue of Ares under Sparta houses something called makhai, little war spirts, and it's a fight to the death for Piper and Annabeth vs. a giant to get to them. They do, of course. And lastly, Leo trades Apollo a musical instrument of his own invention for a daisy. The rockstar god can't resist something new to jam on, and "curse of Delos" is just such a clever name for a flower.
One of Apollo's children, Asclepius, crafts the cure for them…but only one dose. (It wouldn't be an adventure story if it were easy.) Leo is the victim of the prophecy, but he uses the cure to bring himself back to life, and everything works out just fine.
Good thing, too, since it's the last book in the series.
The Athena Parthenos is the quest item for our other set of heroes: Reyna and Nico. And the difference between this statue and the physician's cure is that Reyna and Nico already have it in their possession at the beginning of the novel. The quest here is to get the stinkin' thing to Camp Half-Blood from halfway across the globe as an act of truce between Romans and Greeks.
Thankfully, Nico can shadow-travel, transporting the statue and his friends with ease. And by "with ease," we mean it costs him his life. But it's still easier than going through security checkpoints at the airport, right? Have you ever tried to check a magical Greek statue?
Reyna often hopes the statue will come to their aid, but it never does. It just…watches stoically. However, during the battle with Orion, Reyna somehow ends up with a magic cloak. A voice in her head tells her it's the aegis of Athena, so maybe the statue was paying attention to all her heroic deeds after all.
Reyna gets the statue to Camp Half-Blood just in time to stop the conflict between Greeks and Romans, but of course Gaea arises as soon as she drops it off, meaning the battle isn't over quite yet…