On Tuesday, Sept. 26, an event occurred which many had long deemed impossible: Bestselling author Rick Riordan released a brand new book featuring his beloved protagonist Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods marks the first book with Percy as a main character, along with his two best friends Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood, since the release of The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus in 2014. It is clear from the mass excitement about Percy’s return after almost ten years that loyal Percy Jackson fans never have, and never will, forget their childhood hero.
Percy Jackson started off in Riordan’s first book as a twelve-year-old struggling through middle school, facing bullies, dyslexia, ADHD and difficulty fitting in, just like anyone else. Percy then discovers that he is a demigod, the son of the Greek god Poseidon, and that the fate of the world rests on his shoulders. But despite the mythical plot, Riordan’s series introduced perhaps the most relatable and beloved character of all time. Sarcastic and clever, while also sometimes slow on the uptake (hence his nickname “Seaweed Brain”), lovable, loyal, brave and endlessly honest, Percy is a character everyone can relate to, no matter their age or background. Since the beginning, Percy has felt real, which is why he grew so popular.
To say that the Percy Jackson franchise has been a success would be an understatement. The release of the first book, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, in 2005 was quickly succeeded by four others, one for each of the following consecutive years. In 2009, after the release of the final book, Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, many thought it would be time to say goodbye to their favorite character. However, Riordan then continued Percy’s story (while also introducing some new faces) with a sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, which consisted of five books released each year from 2010 to 2014.
Five years after they had originally braced themselves to say goodbye, readers came to the end of The Heroes of Olympus with book five, The Blood of Olympus. And yet, to their surprise and delight, Percy’s story was not quite over. Riordan has rewarded fans who stuck with him through his other authorial endeavors with sporadic Percy sightings or mentions over the years.
For instance, Percy appeared fleetingly in the third book of the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Ship of the Dead, which was released in 2017. He said a quick hello to his old friend Apollo in the first book of the Trials of Apollo series, The Hidden Oracle. Percy even joined forces with other of Riordan’s protagonists, Carter and Sadie Kane of the Egyptian mythology-based Kane Chronicles, in a few short stories released in 2013 and 2015.
And somehow, even when not stealing the spotlight from Riordan’s other characters, Percy Jackson found ways to stick with his fans throughout the years. Two movie adaptations were produced of the first two books, one in 2010 and the other in 2013. A Percy Jackson video game was released by Nintendo in 2010. In 2017, a Percy Jackson musical debuted off-Broadway before a national tour in 2019, and then a short Broadway run from 2019-2020. In recent news, Percy Jackson will be returning in a much anticipated TV show, which will premiere on Disney+ on Dec. 20.
And now, ten years after his last main appearance, Percy Jackson returns once more to the literary world in The Chalice of the Gods, as, somehow, an eighteen-year-old high school senior. While Percy began his first book in 2005 at the age of 12, Riordan has explained his lack of aging, stating, “No birth year is ever mentioned for [Percy], or any of the other characters, in any of the books… Percy exists ‘now,’ as you are reading the books, and that’s when his story is happening.” Riordan also added that he did not want there to be “a huge tonal shift,” saying, “that’s just my mindset. I write in a very middle grade way. I have readers from eight years old to 80, and everybody’s welcome.”
The publication of The Chalice of the Gods makes sense, especially because Riordan first came up with the idea as a way to “entice Hollywood studios into supporting the… Percy Jackson TV adaption…” However, it was at first confusing to many fans as to whom this book would be written for. Ten years after the last Percy Jackson book, fans of the original series have long since grown up, while younger fans still have a lot of catching up to do if they plan to start all the way at the beginning. Riordan tried to clarify, stating he wanted to give, “the readers something they’ve been wanting for the last decade…” and that the book would focus on Percy going through the college application process — a plot which would relate better to older readers rather than middle schoolers. Above all, Riordan stated that he wants “it to be a book you all might actually love, a kind of ‘thank you’ for sticking with me all these years…”
It was not until I actually read this new book that I truly understood what he meant. Chalice of the Gods is a love letter to the original fans, those who eagerly anticipated each new book in the 2000s and 2010s, who waited with baited breath for even the slightest mention of Percy in the many other mythological series that followed. It is for those fans, those who are now working their way through college, or graduate school, or their first jobs, that this book is truly meant for. Nothing life-shattering happens within the pages of the Chalice of the Gods — no characters die, no worlds are turned upside down — instead it is simply about normal events in the life of Percy Jackson.
Throughout the book, Percy, Annabeth and Grover reminisce about all their fun (and not-so-fun) times, from the events of The Lightning Thief to The Blood of Olympus, taking the readers along with them like they did all those years ago. Chalice of the Gods is sweet, simple and pure. It is a chance for readers to get a satisfying end to Percy’s story, to look back one more time on the laughs and delights of their childhoods and then move on into adulthood, bringing with them all the lessons that Percy taught them — to be brave, loyal and above all, to always be themselves.
But thankfully, like many times before, this goodbye does not have to happen quite yet. Chalice of the Gods is the first of a trilogy, the second installment of which will be coming to our eagerly-awaiting, and far-too-old, hands in September of 2024.
Jenna Ledley is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].