Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Chapter 8

By Rick Riordan

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"We Capture a Flag"

The next few days I settled into a routine that felt almost normal, if you don't count the fact that I was getting lessons from satyrs, nymphs, and a centaur.


  • Percy is really good at canoeing, but not archery, foot racing, or fighting.
  • Time for a sword fighting lesson in cabin eleven. Luke is the teacher.
  • Luke is the best swordsman to come along in three hundred years.
  • Percy is paired with Luke as they practice their swordplay. Luke gives him a work-out.
  • During the break, Percy dumps ice-water on his head and instantly feels better.
  • Then, Luke demonstrates a super-tricky offensive sword technique to cabin eleven, using Percy as his example:

    Somehow, I kept him from getting a shot at the hilt of my sword. My senses opened up. I saw his attacks coming. I countered. I stepped forward and tried a thrust of my own. Luke deflected it easily, but I saw a change in his face. His eyes narrowed, and he started to press me with more force. (8.109)

  • Percy manages to knock Luke's sword out of his hand.
  • We then learn an important history lesson:

    About sixty years ago, after World War II, the Big Three agreed they wouldn't sire any more heroes. Their children were just too powerful. They were affecting the course of human events too much, causing too much carnage. World War II, you know, that was basically a fight between the sons of Zeus and Poseidon on one side, and the sons of Hades on the other. The winning side, Zeus and Poseidon, made Hades swear an oath with them: no more affairs with mortal women. They all swore on the River Styx. (8.64)

  • But Zeus broke this promise seventeen years ago and had a child named Thalia by a mortal TV starlet.
  • When Hades found out about Thalia, he sent some of the meanest monsters from Hades to hunt her down and kill her.
  • Thalia tried to get to Camp Half-Blood before the monsters got to her. She was escorted by a satyr and a couple of half-blood friends.
  • But the monsters were too fast and powerful and were at her heels. She told the satyr to take her friends to safety within the Camp Half-Blood borders while she fought the monsters.
  • The monsters killed Thalia and, as she died, Zeus transformed her spirit into the tall pine tree that rests on the top of the hill overlooking Camp Half-Blood. The pine tree has huge protective powers and helps to keep Camp Half-Blood safe.
  • Percy asks Grover if anyone has ever gone on a quest to the Underworld and come back. Grover says no. He is getting suspicious of Percy and of Percy's questions about quests.
  • Capture the flag time! It's Athena, Apollo, and Hermes cabins versus Ares, Hephaestus, and all other cabins.
  • Here are the rules according to Chiron:

    "The creek is the boundary line. The entire forest is fair game. All magic items are allowed. I will serve as referee and battlefield medic." (8.99)

  • Percy's post on the team is border patrol. Annabeth stations him over a little creek.
  • Percy feels ridiculous in his heavy armor and plumed hat. It seems like all the action of the game is happening far away.
  • Then Clarisse and some of her siblings from Ares's cabin close in on Percy. Clarisse's spear is electric and gives Percy a painful electric jolt whenever she strikes him.
  • Clarisse and her friends are angry at Percy for making a fool out of Clarisse during the bathroom incident.
  • They knock Percy backwards so that he finds himself lying in the creek.

    But then something happened. The water seemed to wake up my senses, as if I'd just had a bag of my mom's double-espresso jelly beans. (8.141)

  • Percy kicks butt. The Ares kids come after him in the creek, but Percy knocks their lights out. He even snaps the tip of Clarisse's spear off.
  • Cheers are heard: Luke has successfully captured the flag.
  • Clarisse thinks it's a trick.
  • Annabeth compliments Percy on a job well done. Percy is mad at her for using him as a pawn, as bait for Clarisse. Annabeth tells him that she was on her way to help him out, but then she saw that he didn't need her help.
  • Percy has gotten slashed on the arm by on of Clarisse's sidekicks, but the wound is somehow almost completely healed. Annabeth is in awe of this fact.
  • Annabeth tells Percy to step out of the creek, and as soon as he does so, he feels exhausted and weak.

    "Oh, Styx," she cursed. "This is not good. I didn't want…I assumed it would be Zeus." (8.166)

  • Then they hear a loud, scary howl. The campers go quiet, and Chiron tells them to hold steady as he draws his bow.
  • Standing on the rocks above them is a "black hound the size of a rhino, with lava-red eyes and fangs like daggers" (8.170).
  • The hound is looking straight at Percy.
  • Annabeth draws her sword and the hound leaps over her head and lands on Percy.
  • The hound tears through Percy's armor, but Chiron shoots at it with his arrows and the hound soon dies.
  • Percy is badly wounded, but Annabeth tells him to step into the creek again.
  • Percy does so, and all of the campers gasp as an image, a glow of light forms above his head. The image is of a trident.
  • Campers kneel before Percy.
  • Percy is now determined. His father is "Poseidon […] Earthshaker, Stormbringer, Father of Horses, Hail, Perseus Jackson, Son of the Sea God" (8.195).

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