“Riordan finally seems to get his stride back in this third book of The Heroes of Olympus series. The seven Olympian and Roman demigods who have been brought together by Hera to save the world from Gaea, the primal earth goddess out for vengeance. The novel starts with the arrival of the Argo II at the Roman camp in California. Annabeth, Jason, Piper, and Leo are aboard, and they have arrived to pick up Percy, Hazel and Frank. They quickly learn they have to head over to Europe to save Nico di Angelo, who is being held prisoner.
As has been the them since the start of this spin-off series, the Romans and the Greeks have a tough time with getting along. That really is evident as the Argo II leaves the camp and departs on its mission. The demigods sharing the mission seem not to be bothered, but that can be tossed up to the fact that they hold the fate of the world in their hands. Nico only has days to be found or he will die while imprisoned.
Annabeth also finds that she has her own mission. She, like many of the other children of Athena, is going to search for the statue of Athena that was once in the Parthenon. It holds the secret to bringing together the Greeks and the Romans, and there has been no greater need to do that than now, when Gaea is threatening them all.
The book is filled of the usual punnery and humor, but like earlier books in this series, it seems a little overburdened by the fact that there are actually seven protagonists, each with their own secrets, needs, and issues. Also like the earlier books, Riordan seems to fall into teacher mode a little too often while telling the story. While I suspect it is largely due tot he fact that he is focusing on more minor gods, mosters, and mythological figures than in the earlier Percy Jackson series, it can be a bit of a distraction, drawing out what is already a pretty lengthy story. The kids will likely need some of the explanation, though, because the selected figures are often pretty obscure.
The pacing does seem to be quite a bit sronger, which I liked a lot. It had a bit more of a feel of the previous series. I am definitely looking forward to the next volume, which I believe will be called The House of Hades.”