August Reading Wrap-up

Sooooooooooooo many good reads last month! I tried something new this time to give you a better idea of what each one’s about and which ones I really loved.

Fiction

I Want This To Last Forever

More Than This by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars)

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (5/5 stars)

Hippos In America?!

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (4/5 stars)

Feminist Superhero Fiction

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente (5/5 stars)

McMaster of the Novella

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (5/5 stars)

Rereads Are Good Reads

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater (5/5 stars)

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

And The Rest

A Crimson Warning by Tasha Alexander (2/5 stars)

Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews (3/5 stars)

Graphic Novels

Personal Faves

March: Book One by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

The Backstagers by James Tynion IV (5/5 stars)

Marvel

A-Force: Rage Against the Dying of the Light by Kelly Thompson (4/5 stars)

Mockingbird: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: I Kissed A Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North (5/5 stars)

Star Wars

Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen (no rating)

Poetry

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton (4/5 stars)

Nonfiction

Beowulf, a Translation and Commentary by JRR Tolkien (4/5 stars)

 

 

 

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Myth Monday: Monsters In The Mark of Athena

The Monsters

Eidolons: In Greek mythology, eidolons are spirits of the dead that possess people. From the stories told about them, it seems like they can be a specific dead person with a life history possessing a living person, OR it come across as a more generic possession (such as Christian stories of demons possessing people). In either case, the person being possessed isn’t aware of their situation. Fun. Sidebar: Walt Whitman wrote a poem.  In The Mark of Athena, there seem to be three specific eidolons tasked by Gaea to ruin our heroes’ lives. They possess various characters and eventually resort to possessing movable objects. Fun. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being terrifying and really hard to defend against!

Phorcys and Keto: What I love about these two is that they’re not just any old god and goddess of the sea (there are a lot of sea-deities and nymphs! SO MANY), but specifically represent the dangers of the sea and the monsters inside it. In The Mark of Athena, they’re more like caretakers or circus masters, having a vast collection of monsters that they can send after their enemies at will. In themselves, they aren’t very scary or smart. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for not taking full advantage of these cool deities.

Icthyocentaurs: Specifically named Bythos and Aphros, these are essentially fish-centaurs: kinda like mermaids but with more horsey features. They’re related to Chiron, most famousest of centaurses. I had never heard of them before and I demand more icthycentaur-centered stories! Bythos and Aphros live in colony of mer-people in The Mark of Athena, and rescue some of our heroes when they almost get eaten by a seamonster (see below). They claim to be trainers of champions, just like Chiron, only we haven’t heard of them because they’re ocean heroes. I love that Aphros doesn’t train martial arts of any kind, mostly just home ec. What a hero. 4/5 Monstrous Rating even though they’re more like precious sea creatures.

Skolopendra: This is a very large sea monster that may or may not resemble a giant crayfish. Or a giant millipede. It’s gonna be a no from me. The demigods in The Mark of Athena have to fight one and resort to blowing it up with Greek fire. Typical. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Skolopendra? 

Achelous: Achelous was a river-god who fought Hercules for the right to marry a beautiful maiden named Deianeira – so, yes, pretty typical myth story, especially when Hercules is involved. Achelous typically took the form of a snake or a bull but Hercules wrestles the bull-form and defeats Achelous, tearing off one of his horns in the process. This horn is turned into the Cornucopia, horn of plenty, by the river-nymphs (keep that in mind next time you watch The Hunger Games). Achelous holds a grudge, as you can imagine, and tells the whole story to Theseus later. My question is, what happened to Deianeira (answer: nothing good). In The Mark of Athena, Jason and Piper are sent on a quest by Hercules to get Achelous’ other horn because Hercules is a resentful dirt sack. In this story, Achelous is a bull with a man’s face. And yes, they get the horn. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Ephialtes & Otis: These two giants are the kind of rabble-rousing teenagers that you just have to shake your head at. They did stupid things like trapping Ares (the god of WAR, okay!) in a jar, and threatening to make a pile that would make it to heaven, and then they decided to kidnap Hera and Artemis to be their wives. Artemis ran from them in a form of a deer and tricked them into spearing each other. Because that’s what happens when you try to kidnap the maiden goddess of the hunt. I like them even less in The Mark of Athena, where they mostly fight with each other and try to one-up each other and/or their nemesis Dionysus. Being giants, however, they’re very difficult to defeat by mere demigods. Giants, man. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for the tutu.

Chrysaor: This guy has one hell of an origin. So Medusa and Poseidon hooked up that one time, right, and Athena was mad because it was in her temple, so Medusa became the Gorgon with snake-hair. When Perseus chops off Medusa’s head, two kids spring out of her head from the hook-up with Poseidon: Pegasus (yes, that Pegasus) and Chrysaor. Everyone has heard of Pegasus, almost no one has heard of Chrysaor. None of my sources can even agree on who this guy is! He might be a giant, OR he might be a winged boar. In The Mark of Athena, he is a guy with a golden mask who has turned into a pirate because he has nothing better to do and no one has heard of him. He’s REALLY good at swordplay and defeats Percy. His pirate-crew is made up of the sailors that Dionysus turned into dolphins that one time. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being really obscure and tying in some Dionysus fun-times.

Arachne: Her backstory is well-told in The Mark of Athena, but in summary: Arachne was a beautiful young woman who was extremely skilled in weaving and had a great deal of hubris (FATAL FLAW). She claims to be as good as Athena (or Minerva). Athena goes to her and warns her not to be over-confident, but instead Arachne challenges her to a contest. They both make amazing tapestries; Athena weaves images of her rivalry with Poseidon (Neptune), whereas Arachne chooses images of embarrassing moments or failures of the gods. Athena is pissed off and turns Arachne into a spider; no one is surprised. In The Mark of Athena, Arachne is a giant monster-spider, and she has been taking out her revenge on Athena’s half-mortal children for centuries. Rude. But she makes a great Big Bad. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Athena punishing Arachne Source

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Mark of Athena. Disney Hyperion, 2012. Print.

See also the links above for more sources!

 

Myth Monday: Monsters in The Son of Neptune

The Monsters

The gorgons: We saw the gorgon Medusa in The Lightning Thief. The infamous Medusa had two sisters named Euryale and Stheno. All three of them were gorgons, monster-ladies with snakes for hair and usually part-serpent bodies. Medusa had an extra-special curse that turned people to stone if they looked at her. Euryale and Stheno are just terrifying and will probably eat you. The Son of Neptune opens with the two of them chasing Percy, partly for fun and partly to avenge their sister. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for their Bargain Mart disguise.

Karpoi: The karpoi (or carpi) are spirits of the grain/fruit. They work primarily for Demeter/Ceres (goddess of agriculture, etc) and Gaea (Titan of the Earth). They’re depicted as infants, kinda like little angry cupids that grow plants. Gaea recruits them to her side in The Son of Neptune by promising them all the land they need to grow ALL the grains! They’re really annoying, angry, and tiny, but I like watching them argue about which grain is best. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Gaea and the Carpi: Source
Gegenes the Earthborn: These are six-armed giants from Greek mythology, not Roman, which is confusing because why are they in this Percy Jackson series? Whatever. The Argonauts (Jason and Co. who went after the Golden Fleece) had to fight them. They’re part of Gaea’s army but so far haven’t done anything else. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Cyclopes: We saw these guys in Sea of Monsters. Cyclopes are one-eyed giants, and while they seem to be herdsmen when in their own country, Zeus and Hephaestus use them as workmen at their forges. They supposedly forged Zeus’ famous thunderbolts, but they also seem to enjoy eating humans when the opportunity arises. I like how Riordan gives us the good and bad extremes of Cyclopes, since the myths seem undecided on them, but the cyclopes in TLH are pretty monstrous. The scene where they try to cook and eat Jason and his friends reminds me a lot of Bilbo and the trolls in The Hobbit. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty terrifying but also pretty dumb and over done.

Centaurs: We saw centaurs in the last series of Percy Jackson books, but in this series they’re the Roman version of Centaurs. Roman Centaurs have a greater tendency to murder all your men and rape all your women and steal all of your stuff, as opposed to the hero-trainer Chiron or other Greek centaurs that can be really drunk and out of control but not usually as violent. Percy Jackson is PRETTY UPSET to find that the centaurs are allying themselves with Gaea in The Son of Neptune. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Polybotes: Polybotes is a giant and happens to be a (im)mortal enemy of Poseidon (Percy’s dad). He’s a little pissed because during the war between the gods and the giants, Poseidon dropped an island on top of him. Polybotes has it out for Poseidon and all of his descendants. He’s a Big Bad in The Son of Neptune, leading an army to attack Camp Jupiter (home of the Roman demigods including Frank and Hazel). 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Alcyoneus: Yet another giant, and a son of Gaea, Alcyoneus was said to be invincible in his home territory. He fought Hercules, who only managed to kill him by shooting him and then dragging him out of his territory to die. Cold, Hercules. The heroes in The Son of Neptune employ a similar tactic against him. That being said, he is pretty terrifying, and Gaea goes to a lot of effort to bring him back from the dead. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Basilisks: Basilisks are not terrifying giant dragons, like you may have been led to believe, but relatively small snakes. They’re super poisonous, able to wither plants with only their breath, and obviously their venom is super lethal to anyone. In The Son of Neptune, Frank has to fight three of them while they’re hiding in tall grass. 4/5 Monstrous Rating because deadliness>size.

Arion: Arion is the son of Neptune/Poseidon and Ceres/Demeter. At some point Poseidon decided he was in love with Demeter, and even though she ran away and turned herself into a horse to escape him, he decided to turn into a horse himself to get what he wanted because he’s terrible (gods are sometimes cool and sometimes The Worst). Their son Arion is an immortal horse and had famous riders including Hercules. In The Son of Neptune, he decides Hazel is the best (because she is) and allows her to ride him. He’s super fast and super powerful and will bite your hand off if he doesn’t like you. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Harpies: Harpies are wind-spirits, similar to the venti that we saw in The Lost Hero, but these ones take the form of bird-human hybrids (usually they look like birds except for their human heads. Yikes.). They like to eat other people’s food. I usually only see harpies portrayed as monsters so it was fun to have a sympathetic supporting harpy character, Aella, in The Son of Neptune. She has a photographic memory and has read a lot of books, so she is endlessly helpful. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Laestrygonians: You can experience these guys in all their violent glory in The Odyssey. Odysseus’ crew reaches a very promising-looking island, until they’re chased off by giants who throw rocks at them. In The Son of Neptune, Gaea tells them that if they eat Frank they will receive his superpowers, so they encircle Frank’s family mansion and lob it with fireballs. If you didn’t notice, there are SO MANY species of mythic giants  and almost all of them want to eat you. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Spartus/skeleton warrior: Sometimes known as the Sparti/Spartoi, the hero Jason had to face these scary dudes during the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece. When the Argonauts reach the land of King Aetes and ask him for the Golden Fleece, the king can’t turn them down outright because they’ve become his guests. So he tells Jason that he has to perform a task for him: yoke some fire-breathing bronze oxen, sow a field with dragon-teeth, and kill the crop of armed men that spring up. Jason is a little taken aback by this very specific and lethal request, but he’s the one who signed up for the quest, after all. In The Son of Neptune, the demigod Frank gets a spear on loan from the god Mars which gives Frank the power to summon a spartus three times to fight his enemies. It was cool to bring these guys back to use on the good guy’s side, although Frank probably should trust his spartus too much. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Gryphons: Gryphons or griffins usually have the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. There are some variations, and in The Son of Neptune the gryphons that attack our heroes have the body of black panthers rather than lions. I don’t really know why except to be scarier, maybe? I can’t find any evidence of actual myth griffins with panther bodies, but it seems reasonable. Apollo likes to ride griffins probably because, let’s face it, they are very cool-looking. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Apollo on a Gryphon: Source

Hyperborean giants: In mythology, the land of the Hyperboreans was far to the north and inaccessible to normal humans, but it was apparently a super great, heavenly place that was always springtime. In The Son of Neptune, Percy and his friends come across a few of them in Alaska: they’re huuuuuuge, blue, and not very smart, but basically harmless like giant blue frost-breathing cows or something. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because I want to be friends with them.

The Reborn

Phineas/Phineus: Phineas was a little too good at predicting the future, so Zeus cursed him to be haunted by harpies. These harpies would steal his food no matter what, so that Phineas could never eat. He was rescued from the harpies by the Argonauts. In The Son of Neptune, Gaea has brought him back to life and he is working for her with his prophecies.

Otrera: Otrera was the first queen of the Amazons. Depending on the story, she is either Ares/Mars’ wife or daughter (yikes how do those get confused?). She is killed by the hero Bellerophon (he notably killed the Chimera, and befriended Pegasus). In The Son of Neptune, Gaea brings her back to life to work for her, and Otrera is attempting to take over the queenship of the Amazons again.

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Son of Neptune. Disney Hyperion, 2011. Print.

See also the links above for more sources!

Myth Monday: Monsters in The Lost Hero

We finished off the monster recaps for Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Today we’re going to look at The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, the first book in his Heroes of Olympus series. Whereas the previous series is based off of Greek mythology, this series uses Roman mythology. In many ways, the Roman gods and characters match up with Greek counterparts. This is because the Romans tried to meld their mythology with that of the Greeks, because the Greeks were trending and the Romans wanted in on those pageviews.

The Monsters

Venti: The venti (Greek anemoi) are essentially wind-spirits, and range in authority and power. Fun fact: if you mate a nice venti to a nice harpy, you get a horse. I didn’t see that one coming. A single venti is a ventus. In The Lost Hero (TLH), the main characters (demigods Jason, Piper, and Leo) are attacked by venti while at Wilderness School (a fun place for juvenile delinquents). Throughout the book Jason and Co. come across many venti, some who are causing mischief, some working for the bad guys, and some working for the gods (the good guys?). See below for some named venti characters.

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Boreas Source

Boreas: He is the North Wind and in charge of all the cold, blustery winter venti. He’s typically shown as an old bearded dude with a bad temper. In TLH, the heroes go to him to discuss the whole venti-trying-to-kill-them issue. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for not telling them much but giving a thousand vague ominous hints. He also has a bad habit of icing demigods (literally).

Calais and Zethes: Otherwise known as the Boreads, these two are sons of Boreas. They also sailed with the original Jason (not the TLH protagonist) on the Argos during the quest for the Golden Fleece. Calais and Zethes are depicted in TLH as winged thugs who love winter sports. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty nice guys, just kind of dumb.

Khione: Khione is a snow nymph, or possibly a snow-goddess. She’s a daughter of Boreas, and not to be confused with ANOTHER Khione who is a consort of Boreas. In TLH she is ice-cold and terrifying, and will probably kiss you and then freeze you to death. Or both at once. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being wicked awesome.

Cyclopes: We saw these guys in Sea of Monsters. Cyclopes are one-eyed giants, and while they seem to be herdsmen when in their own country, Zeus and Hephaestus use them as workmen at their forges. They supposedly forged Zeus’ famous thunderbolts, but they also seem to enjoy eating humans when the opportunity arises. I like how Riordan gives us the good and bad extremes of Cyclopes, since the myths seem undecided on them, but the cyclopes in TLH are pretty monstrous. The scene where they try to cook and eat Jason and his friends reminds me a lot of Bilbo and the trolls in The Hobbit. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty terrifying but also pretty dumb and over done.

Medea: Medea is one of my favorite mythological characters. I recommend reading (or watching) Medea by Euripides for the iconic version of her story. She is a powerful sorceress and priestess of Hecate. She helps Jason (of the Argonauts/Golden Fleece fame) escape from her own family, betraying them to do so, and marries him and has kids and EVERYTHING IS FINE except then Jason wants to marry someone else. Medea reacts as many jilted ladies do by assassinating her rival, her rival’s dad, and then murdering her own children and telling Jason all about it. Jason is like, “Babe, you overreacted,” and everything is terrible. In TLH  all of the baddies are escaping Tartarus because of Plot Reasons (see Gaea, below (PUN INTENDED)) including Medea. She remakes herself as the proprietor of a big department store specializing in used goods (taken from dead heroes and warriors, as far as we can tell). She uses her magic to brainwash Leo and Jason but she wasn’t expecting PIPER F. MCLEAN. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being terrifying and also a little sympathetic.

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Medea flying the hell out of Corinth Source

Midas and Lityerses: These dudes are some of the worst. King Midas won a favor from Dionysus/Bacchus by being very hospitable to one of his satyrs. Midas asked that he could have the ability to turn anything to gold only by touching it. He did not think this one through. Dionysus granted his wish, and Midas couldn’t touch anything without it turning to gold, so he couldn’t eat or drink. Once Midas realized the gravity of the situation, he begged Dionysus to take the gift back. Midas had to bathe in a specific river, and then his gift was taken away. Lityerses was an illegitimate son of Midas, and was one of those losers that stands by the road and challenges passersby to….harvesting challenges? They would always lose, and Lityerses would always kill them, until this guy Hercules came along. Lityerses was finally beaten and killed.

So yeah, nice guys. In TLH, Jason and Co. accidentally wander/break into their house, and are almost turned into gold by Midas, who is working for the bad guys (of course). He’s apparently unlearned all of the valuable lessons Dionysus taught him. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for mostly being REALLY ANNOYING.

Lycaon: Lycaon was a king of Arcadia. There are bunch of different myths about him. Most of the stories (and certainly the most popular ones) entail Lycaon serving entrails of a child (his own??) into a meal for Zeus, in order to prove that Zeus doesn’t know everything. Zeus does not approve of this kind of shenanigans (eating kids OR trying to fool him), and turns Lycaon and his 50 sons into wolves. I love werewolves but this guy is pretty icky. In TLH, Lycaon and his fellow werewolves are contrasted with Lupa and her wolves, the patron spirits of Rome; Lycaon serves the bad guys and wants to kill Jason and Co, whereas Lupa and her tough-love scheme tries to help them. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty darn monstrous.

Enceladus and Porphyrion: Enceladus and Porphyrion are two of the giants who fought for the Titans, and sons of Gaea (Titan of the earth). Enceladus is traditionally a big enemy of the goddess Athena. They’re the big bads of TLH; Enceladus is defeated by Jason and Zeus working together, as giants can only be killed from a god and a demigod teaming up. Porphyrion is raised from Tartarus by all the baddies working together, and is still out there somewhere being giant and overpowered. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because we’ve seen giants before and they weren’t particularly interesting.

Gaea: Gaea is the Titan of earth and the real villain of the Heroes of Olympus. She was married to Uranus (the sky) until she convinced her kids to chop him up in pieces. She was defeated by the gods in the Titan war. In TLH, she’s asleep, but slowly waking, in part because her son Kronos was killed in the last series and she’s PISSED. To Be Continued, probably. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because a face/lady made of dirt showing up persistently in your nightmares sounds extremely Unsettling.

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Lost Hero. Disney Hyperion, 2010. Print.

Myth Monday: The Last Monster (For Now)

Previously on Myth Mondays feat. Percy Jackson monsters:

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

The Battle of the Labyrinth

 

So, in The Last Olympian, the last book of the series, many of the monsters from previous books come back to make another attempt on our heroes’ health and happiness. The most prominent of these is probably the Minotaur, since it almost killed Percy’s mom in the first book, but we also see plenty of Lastreagonian giants, empousae, dracenae, and hellhounds, so I hope you enjoy those. There’s only a handful of “new” monsters. I’m going to take a look at those first, and then address some of the other villains of the book who don’t quite qualify as “monsters.”

The Monsters

Typhon the giant: Back in the olden days, the gods had a lot of big scary enemies to defeat. After they took care of the Titans (mentioned last time), the earth Titan Gaea sent a few giants, relatives of the Titans, in a last effort to destroy the gods. Typhon was one of the strongest and the scariest, and it took all of the gods to defeat him. In the Percy Jackson universe, Zeus had to drop a mountain on top of Typhon to bury and defeat him, which turns into Mt. St. Helens. Typhon awakens in The Last Olympian, causing the mountain to erupt, and then has a great time traveling across the continental United States to attack the stronghold of the gods in New York City. The gods have to unite and fight him together; the demigods like Percy don’t stand a chance and have to fight other villains. Basically Typhon is a good narrative obstacle to keep the gods from helping our heroes. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because he is apocalyptically scary.

Hyperborean giants: I’m very confused by these because in the Percy Jackson series, they are big dumb ice-giants who are recruited by the Big Bad Kronos. In mythology, the land of the Hyperboreans was far to the north and inaccessible to normal humans, but it was apparently a super great, heavenly place that was always springtime. I mean, I guess the Greeks didn’t know about the North Pole, but yeah. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because what.

The Clazmonian Sow/The Crommyonian Sow: I had to resort to Wikipedia for this one, because, wow, Rick, PRETTY OBSCURE. TCS was a giant pig that was killed by Theseus and may or may not be a metaphor for a terrible woman. I haven’t come across this reference in retellings of Theseus’ adventures, but Wikipedia’s sources are legit, so. Sows, man! In The Last Olympian, Kronos lets the TCS loose on NYC and it’s a whole thing. Giant pigs are surprisingly terrifying. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Drakon: The Last Olympian features a “drakon,” which Riordan differentiates from other dragons we see in the series, claiming it is bigger, nastier, “a two-hundred-foot-long serpent as thick as a school bus.” Mythology tends to play fast and loose with its monster descriptions, especially with dragons/drakons/draconian varieties, so I think making it a distinct breed is artistic license. Also, The Last Olympian has these weird parallels with The Iliad, where a couple of demigods have a similar arc to Achilles and Patroclus, which makes the drakon = Hector. Hector deserves better tbh.   3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Other Jerks of Note

The Titans: They’re the big bads of this series and we see more of them than ever in this book. They’re the ancient enemies of the gods, who replaced them, and the Titans are still pretty pissed off about it. Kronos is The Big Bad, of course, and can control Time. But we also see a lot of Krios (or Crius) and Hyperion (originally a sun god, replaced by Apollo). We saw Atlas in The Titan’s Curse, and we will see more of them in the next series.

Morpheus: Kronos recruits a lot of minor deities who feel unappreciated by the major gods to his cause. Morpheus is one of these. He is the god of dreams and the son of the God of Sleep (Somnus). In The Last Olympian, he puts NYC to sleep so that the baddies can attack Olympus without a lot of mortals getting in the way and screaming. I guess.

Nemesis: She’s the goddess of revenge (although her name is translated as Righteous Anger) and signs up for Kronos’ side. We don’t actually see her in The Last Olympian, but I’m mentioning her because she’s cool and her son, the demigod Ethan Nakamura, is a supporting character and super great and deserves better okay bye.

Hecate: She’s the goddess of the night and she is very terrifying and has many scary magical powers. She’s working for Kronos in the series and does lots of black magic for him and his dastardly plans.

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Source

Prometheus: This guy is a Titan and there are so many stories about him that it’s very confusing. Sometimes he’s the guy who created mankind, sometimes he didn’t create them but he helps them, sometimes he helps them but only to piss off the gods. Prometheus as benefactor of humanity is the most long-lasting story, including that time that Zeus punished him for giving mankind knowledge of fire by chaining him to a rock and letting an eagle peck out his liver every day. In The Last Olympian, Prometheus signs up with Kronos and is more of a Chaotic Neutral character – he seems to think that working for Kronos will ultimately help humans because the gods don’t care about them. He comes across as much more of a Trickster-archetype than he is usually portrayed which I thought was interesting.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Last Olympian. Disney Hyperion, 2009. Print.

 

Next month we will be starting the Heroes of Olympus series!

Myth Monday: Percy In The Labyrinth

Previously on our Myth Mondays with Percy Jackson monsters:

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

 

Today we’re hitting up one of my favorites, The Battle of the Labyrinth. I have a thing for Labyrinths. And Ariadne. And such.

The Monsters

Empousa: These terrifying lady-vampires are either the servants or daughters of Hecate, depending on the story. Basically they seduce dudes and then drink all their blood. They are called “one-footed,” which led to them having one leg (that of a donkey) and one prosthetic leg made of brass.  In The Battle of the Labyrinth, they serve the Big Bad and sometimes take the form of cheerleaders to lure Percy into a false sense of security (or something). Sadly we don’t see them drink blood, probably because this series is Middle Grade. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Hellhounds: Hellhounds are, if you can believe it, really scary dogs from the underworld…Cerberus is the most famous one. Mrs. O’Leary is a lesser-known hellhound, but she shows up The Battle of the Labyrinth and subsequent Percy Jackson books. She attaches herself to Percy and is brave and drooly and adorable. 5/5 Monster Rating!

The Minotaur: The Minotaur is only mentioned in this book, but Percy&Co. are exploring the labyrinth which was originally designed to keep the monster half-bull half-man securee. See The Lightning Thief post for more on him.

 

Kampe: Kampe. How do I describe Kampe? She’s basically a big combination of monsters and animals – like a dragon lady with a body made out of beast heads and legs made out of vipers. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, she is working for Kronos and keeping her own little prison in the labyrinth. I wouldn’t want to face her in a fight. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

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The visual representations are insane. This one is by Ralph Horsley.

Briares: Briares is one of the Hundred-Handed Ones, giants from very early on in Greek mythology; they fight with Zeus and the gods against the Titans in the big War of the Titans. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, he’s being kept prisoner by Kampe. I really love the sub-plot with him and Tyson in this book – Tyson has always considered the Hundred-Handed Ones his heroes, but the reality is disappointing at first because Briares has been terrified into submission by Kampe (who is, admittedly, mind-meltingly scary). 3/5 Monstrous Rating because he’s secretly a Nice Guy.

Geryon: Geryon is the monstrous rancher that dreams are made of. Wait what. He has multiple heads and multiple bodies and really sounds goopy. He has a bunch of sacred red cattle that Hercules has to retrieve for his Tenth Labor. In TBoftL, Geryon also has flesh-eating horses (see below) and tells Percy he will have to clean out the stables in order to get any help from him. However, Percy winds up having to kill him anyway because Geryon is a terrible back-stabbing person. The trouble is, Percy has to kill all of his bodies at once to do so. Gross. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Eurytion: There’s a centaur in Greek mythology by this name, too, but the one in TBotL is a herdsman of Geryon. I really like that Eurytion, a sort of monstrous cowboy, is given his own hopes and dreams in the book, and is happy to help Percy once it looks like Percy might win. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Flesh-eating horses: In Greek mythology, Diomedes (one of the heroes of the Iliad) has a bunch of flesh-eating horses that he’s very proud of. Diomedes is very strong but sort of a terrible guy. Terrible guys are very common in Greek mythology. Anyway, Percy manages to befriend these horses to a point once he cleans their stable and drenches them all with water. He should have kept one as a steed, probably. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because I didn’t see them eat any flesh.

The Sphinx: Everyone knows the Sphinx, right? In mythology, the Sphinx posed a riddle to travelers and when they couldn’t answer it, murdered them. A very fun-loving guy. In TBotL, the Sphinx is guarding part of the Labyrinth, but instead of riddles it is giving travelers multiple-choice questions. I LOVE the implication that no one is being taught to think critically anymore and so the Sphinx doesn’t even bother with riddles. Annabeth, Percy’s smart friend, is very understandably upset by this change. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Telekhines/Telchines: I’m unclear on what these are, exactly, but they’re some sort of seacreature/dog/demon hybrid. They eventually piss off the gods so much that they all get murdered (possibly for practicing black magic). In TBotL, Percy comes across them a couple of times, as they’ve been recruited by Kronos. One of the most disturbing bits of this series is when Percy attacks a bunch of baby-Telekhines while they’re at school. Like…slow your monster-murdering roll, boy. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being so persistent.

Antaeus: This guy is a giant wrestler, and a son of Gaea, the Earth goddess. He’s sort of the worst. He can’t be defeated as long as he’s touching the earth, so Hercules has to lift him up into the air in order to kill him. Percy employs a similar technique when he has to fight him in a cage-match in TBotL. 2/5 Monstrous Rating for the giant Greek diaper.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Battle of the Labyrinth. Disney Hyperion, 2008. Print.

 

We will finish up the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series next month with the final book, The Last Olympian!

Myth Monday: Cursed With Monsters

Previously on Myth Monday!

Last month we went through the monsters and creatures mentioned in Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Today we will do the same thing with the next book, The Titan’s Curse. This is one of my favorite Percy Jackson books, because of the introduction of the di Angelo kids (children of Hades), the hilarious Apollo cameo, the Dionysus scenes (he’s craaaaaaaaazy but also really unimpressed with shenanigans) and all of the involvement with Artemis and her immortal lady Hunters.

But besides all of that, The Titan’s Curse continues in the fun tradition of lobbing monster after monster at our heroes.

The Monsters

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Very normal-looking animal called a manticore. Source

Manticores: I can’t even blame this one on  the Greeks, even though the ancient Greeks really liked to put all of creation in a blender and see what crazy combinations they could come up with. These bad boys from Persia have the face of a human, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion. In The Titan’s Curse, a terrifying teacher named Dr. Thorn turns out to be a manticore in disguise. I’d like Rick Riordan to explain why a Persian monster is serving a Greek Titan; Dr. Thorn is pretty invested in Atlas’ future success. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Atlas, aka “The General”: Atlas is one of the Titans, predecessors of the gods. There was a big war between Kronos/Cronus, king of the Titans, and his son Zeus, who led the gods against their evil parental overlords. When Zeus and Co. won, many of the Titans were destroyed or punished in a variety of horrifying ways. Atlas got the necessary but uncomfortable job of holding up the sky (because as everyone knows, the Sky wants to reunite with his lady-love the Earth). Talk about a third wheel. Atlas is the primary villain of The Titan’s Curse and spends most of his time recruiting monsters and tricking gods/demigods into dealing with his curse for him. As a Big Bad, he does very well. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

The Ophiotaurus: This half-cow, half-serpent monster is mentioned once by Ovid – apparently if you slaughter it and burn the entrails, you’ll win. At life? At war? IDK but you’re a winner. In The Titan’s Curse, the Ophiotaurus is an adorable baby cow-serpent that everyone either loves or wants to murder for their own gain. Classic. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because it’s not even scary and sounds kinda fake. BUT IT’S SO CUTE. [PS what if the expression was Deus ex ophiotauro instead? That would be hilarious, we should make this so.]

Scythian dracaenae: These are dragon-ladies: human up top, serpent down low. Echidna was a famous one, who bribed Hercules into sleeping with her. They had kids. Don’t think about it too much. The dracaenae show up in The Titan’s Curse as servants and soldiers of Atlas. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Dragon-teeth spawn: Sometimes known as the Sparti/Spartoi, the hero Jason had to face them during the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece. When the Argonauts reach the land of King Aetes and ask him for the Golden Fleece, the king can’t turn them down outright because they’ve become his guests. So he tells Jason that he has to perform a task for him: yoke some fire-breathing bronze oxen, sow a field with dragon-teeth, and kill the crop of armed men that spring up. Jason is a little taken aback by this very specific and lethal request, but he’s the one who signed up for the quest, after all. In The Titan’s Curse, Atlas makes soldiers of his own by planting dragon-teeth, and Percy and his friends have the undead, implacable stalkers on their tail for quite a while. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Nemean Lion:

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Source

The hero Hercules had to perform twelve impossible tasks, known as the Twelve Labors, to make up for the fact that he went crazy and murdered his wife and children. I don’t make the rules. The first impossible task was to kill the lion of Nemea, which was bullet-proof, sword-proof, etc etc etc. So, after wasting a lot of time experimenting with different weapons, Hercules finally just strangled the lion. Percy Jackson has to fight the (reborn) Nemean Lion in The Titan’s Curse, but he’s not super-powerful like Hercules, so instead he gag-chokes it by stuffing astronaut food down its throat until dead. Don’t tell PETA. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because its skin turns into a very fashionable weapon-proof coat.

 

Ladon and the Hesperides: The eleventh (I skipped a few because they aren’t relevant) impossible task that Hercules had to complete was to steal the golden apples of the garden of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were nymphs, and daughters of Atlas (you know, that Big Bad we mentioned above). Ladon was a great dragon that guarded the tree. So between the dragon and the nymphs, Hercules had a bunch of problems to overcome (including the fact that he didn’t know where the garden was – see Nereus below for the explanation of how Hercules gets his information). There are different versions of this story – in some, Hercules goes to the garden himself and fights Ladon in order to get to the apples. In others, Hercules goes to Atlas and persuades Atlas to go get the apples from his daughters, in exchange for Hercules holding the sky for him for a while. Of course, Atlas has to be tricked into taking the sky back again (honestly I’m surprised Hercules managed to trick anyone but I’m showing my bias). In The Titan’s Curse, Percy is guided to the garden by Zoe, an ex-Hesperide and current Hunter of Artemis, in order to find Atlas and rescue their friends. I love how the PJ books combine bits and pieces from different myths to make a great story! Fortunately, Percy doesn’t have to fight the dragon (although someone else does). 4/5  Monstrous Rating because dragons.

Bonus Round!

Nereus the sea-god: This guy was infamously smelly – I guess he liked hanging out around rotting fish or something. If you grab him and wrestle him and hang onto him while he shape-shifts, he will answer whatever question you ask him. Hercules used this Wrestle-Nereus technique to find out where the Garden of the Hesperides was (see above). Percy Jackson uses this technique to find out information of his own. Nereus probably should hang out in the ocean more so demigod heroes can’t find him? 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Titan’s Curse. Disney Hyperion, 2007. Print.